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Computer Hacking, False Accusations Just Some of the “Mischief” That Can Lead You to Jail

In the Canadian Criminal Code, the term “mischief” refers to a number of activities that constitute serious criminal offences with stiff punishments.  Far from harmless, these crimes do damage to property, can waste valuable police resources, and put the freedom of others at risk.There are two kinds of mischief in the Criminal Code: criminal mischief and public mischief.

Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief is the deliberate destruction or damage of property. It includes vandalism, like spraying slogans on a building, breaking school windows, or letting the air out of someone’s car tires. Stopping people from using their own property or interfering with someone else’s property can also be mischief.

Section 342.01 of the Criminal Code specifically makes computer hacking a form of criminal mischief.

The penalties for mischief depend on the kind and value of the property that was damaged or destroyed.  For property valued at less than $5,000, the offender can be found guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of up to two years; or may be found guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction. Where the value of the property exceeds $5,000 or for computer hacking, penalties can include up to 10 years behind bars.

Anyone who commits mischief that causes actual danger to life is guilty of an indictable offence and is subject to imprisonment for life.

Public Mischief

One unique form of mischief is what is known as “public mischief.” This involves providing false information to police. False information can impede investigations, waste valuable resources, and result in individuals being wrongly accused, and in some cases convicted, for crimes they did not commit.

Specifically, Section 140 of the Criminal Code defines the crime of public mischief as taking any of the following actions with intent to mislead, and which causes a law enforcement officer to enter on or continue an investigation:

  • Making a false statement that accuses some other person of having committed an offence;
  • Doing anything intended to cause some other person to be suspected of having committed an offence that the other person has not committed, or to divert suspicion from himself;
  • Reporting that an offence has been committed when it has not been committed; or
  • Reporting or in any other way making it known or causing it to be made known that he or some other person has died when he or that other person has not died.

Public mischief is punishable by up to five years in prison. The news is full of stories of people who have been accused and convicted of public mischief for falsely reporting bomb or terrorist threats, or for falsely accusing others of offences such as sexual assault.

If you have been charged with criminal mischief of any kind, you need to take the matter as seriously as do police and Crown Prosecutors. Contact an experienced Ontario criminal defence lawyer at your earliest opportunity.


Since 1996, the law firm of Mitch Engel, Barrister & Solicitor has been providing clients throughout the Toronto, Oshawa, Brampton, and Mississauga areas with top-level criminal defence representation.With an exclusive focus on criminal defence, he has keen insight into successful defence strategies and is passionate about helping his clients achieve the best possible resolution to their matters. Call Mitch Engel at (866) 761-7077 to get the legal advice you need to reclaim your life.


The materials provided on this site are for information purposes only. These materials constitute general information relating to areas of law familiar to our firm lawyers. They do NOT constitute legal advice or other professional advice and you may not rely on the contents of this website as such.

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