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When does a Person Commit “Mischief” – s425 of the Penal Code

3 min read

Mischief under Section 425 covers a broad spectrum of crimes. Mischief may seem like an offence which does not carry stiff penalties, but the post below will show otherwise. This includes, but is not limited to, maiming and killing animals, destroying roads, railways or diverting water.
1) A person commits “mischief” where the person intends to cause or knows that he is likely to cause:

  • – wrongful loss
  • – or damage

2)to the public or any other person;

  • – causes the destruction of any property
  • – or any such change in any property

3) or in the situation thereof;

  • – destroys
  • – or diminishes the utility of any property
  • – or affects the property injuriously
Elements
  • there must be wrongful loss or damage to the person, or owner of the property injured or destroyed
  • the property must be otherwise affected such that its value or utility is diminished
  • not essential to the offence of mischief that the offender should INTEND to cause loss or damage
  • it is sufficient if he KNOWS he is likely to cause wrongful damage or loss.
Examples
  • Avoluntarily burns a valuable security belonging to Z, intending to cause wrongful loss to ZA has committed mischief.
  • Avoluntarily throws into a river a ring belonging to Z, with the intention of thereby causing wrongful loss to ZA has committed mischief.
  • A, knowing that his effects are about to be taken in execution in order to satisfy a debt due from him to Z, destroys those effects, with the intention of thereby preventing Zfrom obtaining satisfaction of the debt, and of thus causing damage to ZA has committed mischief.
  • A, having insured a ship, voluntarily causes the same to be cast away, with the intention of causing damage to the underwriters. Ahas committed mischief.
  • Acauses a ship to be cast away, intending thereby to cause damage to Z, who has lent money on security on the ship. A has committed mischief.
  • A, having joint property with Zin a horse, shoots the horse, intending thereby to cause wrongful loss to ZA has committed mischief.
Punishments for Mischief

1) General punishment (s 426): Imprisonment of a maximum of 1 year OR a fine, OR both imprisonment and a fine.
2) Committing mischief which causes loss or damage of $500 or more (s 427): Imprisonment of a maximum of 2 years OR a fine, OR both imprisonment and a fine.
3) Committing mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless and animal (s 428): Imprisonment of a maximum of 5 years OR a fine, OR both imprisonment and a fine.
4) Mischief by an act which causes a diminution of supply of water for human being, animals or for agricultural and industrial purposes (s430): Imprisonment of a maximum of 5 years OR a fine, OR both imprisonment and a fine.
5) Mischief by an act which is likely to obstruct, upset, overthrow, injure or destroy any railway engine, train etc. (s430A): Imprisonment of a maximum of 10 years AND a fine.
6) Mischief by injury to public road, bridge or river which renders it impassable or less safe for travel (s431): Imprisonment of a maximum of 5 years OR a fine, OR both imprisonment and a fine.
7) Mischief by an act which is likely to obstruct or inundate any public draining, attended to with injury or damage (s432): Imprisonment of a maximum of 5 years OR a fine, OR both imprisonment and a fine.
8) Mischief by destroying or moving any landmark fixed by a public authority (s434): Imprisonment of a maximum of 1 year OR a fine, OR both imprisonment and a fine.
9) Mischief by fire or explosive substance which a person intends, or knows to cause damage (s435): Imprisonment of a maximum of 7 years AND a fine.
10) Mischief by fire or explosive substance which a person intends, or knows to cause destruction to any building (s436): Imprisonment of a maximum of 10 years AND a fine.
11) Mischief committed after making preparations for causing death or hurt or wrongful restraint to any person (s440): Imprisonment of a maximum of 5 years AND a fine.

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