These four methods of committing mischief are quite broad.
However, mischief can also include things like pulling a fire alarm, playing loud music late at night, or refusing to leave someone’s property.
In certain circumstances, mischief may be considered more serious, having more significant penalties. For example, mischief relating to a place of worship, educational institution, daycare, community centre, seniors’ residence, war memorial, or cultural property can result in greater punishment. Additionally, the Criminal Code makes specific mention of mischief in relation to computer data and testamentary instruments which come with higher penalties. Finally, mischief that causes actual danger to life may result in life imprisonment.
An investigation of an alleged mischief charge in Calgary is typically started by the alleged victim (or relative or witness). They contact the Calgary Police Service and report it. The police will request a written or videotaped statement from the complainant and any witnesses and will initiate an investigation.
Calgary Police take property crimes very seriously and mischief is no exception. The police will typically engage in a thorough investigation to find sufficient evidence to charge. This may include interviewing all witnesses, reviewing any video surveillance, seizing any evidence involved, photographing the scene, and obtaining receipts for damaged property.
After the police have gathered their evidence, they will arrest you if they believe you are the perpetrator. If you are not present at the scene, police will track you down or issue a warrant for your arrest.
After you have been charged, police will provide a package with all the evidence they collected, known as the “disclosure package,” to the Crown Prosecutor. You will have the right to access this disclosure package to see the evidence against you. Once you retain one of our lawyers, we will assist you in obtaining the disclosure package, and we will review it with you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Crown’s case, as well as any legal defences that may be available to you.
Bail Process and Conditions for Mischief Charges in Calgary
How do I get myself or a loved one out on bail for mischief charges in Calgary?
If you have been charged with mischief, it is not uncommon for police to release you at the scene on a release order. Police will provide you with a Promise to Appear document outlining your charges, and any required appearances you must make. This document may also include conditions that you are required to follow while on release.
Alternatively, a formal bail hearing may be required to secure your release, particularly if you have a criminal record, or if the allegations against you are more serious.
In order to conduct a bail hearing, you will be transferred from the district office to the Spyhill Services Centre. The bail hearing must be held within 24 hours, a period that starts from the moment of arrest or detention rather than the time when you are brought to the Centre. Although for many years the Centre was located in downtown Calgary, it is now situated in the deep North West of Calgary, which makes getting home after being released far more difficult for many people.
The exact address of the Centre is as follows:
Spyhill Services Centre
12500 85th Street, N.W.
Loved ones are not able to contact you while you are detained. The police will not release any information to friends or family due to privacy laws. Your lawyer is the only person allowed to contact you. Once the police have verified your lawyer’s details, they will pass on information about your whereabouts, if requested.
Because of these difficulties, while you are held in custody, it is best to appoint a competent defence lawyer as soon as possible to manage the legal processes and communicate with your loved ones. After an arrest, the police must provide you with the opportunity to call a lawyer in private and, if that happens, stop questioning you.
Once you retain one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers, we will begin working to secure your release on bail.
We will immediately do the following:
- Call the Spyhill Services Centre in Calgary and speak to you.
- Contact the Prosecutor assigned to the bail hearing to start negotiating your release.
- Order and secure a copy of the police information package that details the allegations against you in advance of the bail hearing. This allows the lawyer to make meaningful representations to the Court about why you should be released on bail.
- Conduct either an in-person or teleconference bail hearing to secure your release.
When you attend your bail hearing, the Judge will consider:
- Is detention necessary to secure your attendance in court?
- Is detention necessary to protect the public from a substantial risk of re-offence?
- Is detention necessary in all the circumstances to maintain confidence in the administration of justice?
Although it is unlikely that you will be denied bail for this type of charge, tight restrictions may nevertheless be applied to your release.
Rest assured, we will work to not only secure your release but also to ensure the least restrictive set of bail conditions (including the minimum cash deposit).
In order for our lawyers to secure less stringent conditions, the Judge will need to be satisfied that you will attend court as required and that you pose no significant risk of harm to the public. This may sometimes be difficult in a mischief case, but not impossible.
Our lawyers are often successful at persuading the Crown Prosecutor in charge of bail to let our clients out. If we can’t convince the Prosecutor, we can conduct a formal bail hearing and work to convince the Court. Even if you are ultimately detained, we can appeal that decision on very short notice through a bail review, which is conducted at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.
Where can I pay for bail for mischief charges in Calgary?
If you or a loved one is charged with mischief in Calgary and granted bail, you may be required to provide a cash deposit to secure release. The cash deposit can be paid at any bail hearing office (courthouse) in Alberta. Even if you live in Edmonton, you can pay bail there for someone detained in Calgary.
Bail hearing offices in Calgary are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The contact details of the bail hearing office at the Calgary Courts Centre are as follows:
Calgary Courts Centre
601 5th Street SW
You can also make a bail payment at the Calgary Remand Centre prior to 8:30 pm.
The contact details for the Calgary Remand Centre are as follows:
Calgary Remand Centre
12200 85 Street NW
To pay your own bail, you can make a payment after your hearing, assuming you have sufficient funds with you to do so.
How do I change my release conditions for mischief charges in Calgary?
Release on bail with mischief charges may include restrictions that impact your day-to-day life.
This could include conditions to refrain from:
- Interacting with any alleged victim,
- Attending the alleged victim’s home or place of work,
- Leaving your house (i.e. house arrest),
- Staying out beyond a certain time (i.e. curfew),
- Breaking any laws,
- Using drugs or alcohol,
- Possessing weapons,
- Visiting certain places, and/or
The Judge may also impose some additional conditions such as:
- Residing where approved,
- Reporting to probation,
- Attending counselling, and/or
- Maintaining or seeking employment.
A variety of factors will be considered when determining your precise restrictions, including:
- Your criminal history,
- Your physical and mental condition,
- The nature of the alleged mischief,
- The likelihood that you will flee,
- Your history of drug/alcohol usage,
- Whether you have stable employment,
- Whether you have stable living arrangements, and
- Whether you have ties to the community.
If you have already been released, at least for the short term, it is critical that you make arrangements to abide by your conditions until they can be changed. Breaching the terms of your release can result in further charges or a revocation of your bail, as well as a forfeiture of any cash paid to secure your release. It is important to take these conditions seriously.
Once the matter is in court, we can work with the Crown Prosecutor to alter your conditions. This includes either adding exceptions to some of the conditions or eliminating them altogether.
If your court date is far away and you cannot wait until then, we can arrange to have the matter dealt with sooner. Our first priority is always to stabilize your release conditions; that way, you will not feel pressured to plead guilty because of the restrictive terms of your release. Once the conditions are manageable and minimally intrusive to your daily routine, we can focus 100% of our attention on defending the case.
Penalties for Mischief Charges in Calgary
In cases of simple mischief charges, the likelihood of going to jail if convicted is relatively low.
However, the risk of jail time increases dramatically where:
- The mischief was directed at specified locations, such as a place of worship, educational institution, war memorial, or community centre;
- It involved a specific type of property such as computer data or testamentary instrument;
- It caused actual danger to life;
- It was a “hate crime;”
- The value of damage is over $5,000; or
- There are prior convictions.
If any of these factors are present in your case, the Crown will almost always seek a jail sentence.
Because the penalty for mischief depends on the value of the property, there is a wide array of potential sentences if you are found guilty. The penalties can range anywhere from a discharge (i.e. a finding of guilt, but no criminal conviction), to a fine and/or probation, to a period of jail time.
The Criminal Code of Canada outlines the maximum allowable punishment for mischief as follows:
- For property valued over $5,000 or to a specified type of property: Not more than 10 years of jail time.
- For property valued under $5,000: Not more than 2 years of jail time.
The potential sentences available to you will depend on a variety of factors, including the extent of damage to or interference with property, the relationship between you and any alleged victim, your criminal history, and other applicable personal factors.
In addition to the penalties above, a conviction for mischief, even of a small degree, can have wide-ranging negative consequences on your future:
- Mischief may affect your reputation in the community or with social groups;
- Potential employers may refuse or terminate your employment if their business involves handling money or the use of valuable property; and/or
- Your friends, family and peers may view you as unworthy of their trust.
Therefore, even if you intend on accepting responsibility for this type of offence, it is worthwhile to explore your options and consider all the possible penalties. Often, good representation can result in no criminal record. Furthermore, a community-based sentence may be obtained even where the Crown is seeking jail time.
Rest assured, our lawyers will work hard to defend you so that you are not saddled with the consequences that stem from a criminal conviction for mischief. In fact, we can canvass a range of sentencing options with the Prosecutors that will either leave you with no criminal record or impose minimal restrictions on your liberty after sentencing. To learn more about potential non-criminal resolutions, please visit our Resolutions page, or read our FAQ on resolutions and other sentencing options.