What is public mischief? Although it may sound like a term used to describe unruly children, it is in fact a serious offence under s. 140 (1) of the Criminal Code of Canada. It is described as the deliberate intention to mislead a legal authority (i.e. the police) by doing any of the following acts listed below which require the police to enter into 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 an offence has been committed when it has not been committed
- 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 the other person has not died.
Here we will examine public mischief in the context of false domestic assault/abuse allegations.
These types of claims/behaviours are often associated with domestic altercations. Many times in the heat of the moment, people make 911 calls in an attempt to punish their significant other for whatever perceived injustice they feel has been done against them. Complainants can sometimes exacerbate and embellish the truth. All claims must be investigated, as very clearly the vast majority of domestic abuses claims are serious and factual. However, false domestic abuse claims waste valuable and costly resources and a conviction for public mischief carries a severe punishment to deter the frequent abuse of making a false domestic abuse report.
If the person is charged with public mischief, the Crown can elect summarily or by indictment. If the crown elects summarily, the person could be facing a jail term of up to 6 months in jail. If the Crown elects by indictment, the maximum jail term is 5 years in jail.
People need to be very aware of the significant consequences and repercussions associated with lying to a police officer in these or any other circumstances. The charges associated with these offences can be very serious and carry jail time. For example, a spouse may wish to retract statements made to the police in the heat of the moment of an argument after some time has passed. Can you do this and what are the repercussions?
This is a very tricky situation. Spouses and/or partners often tend to think differently after some time has passed about charges they may have wanted to proceed with at an earlier point in time. This can happen for many reasons, including that fact that the claim was falsified, they fear for their life, or they come to the realization that their spouse will be locked up and it will be devastating for the relationship or family.
If a complainant retracts (often referred to as “recants”) their statement, there is a possibly they could be charged with the offences of obstruction of justice and/or public mischief. Further, in my experience, the original domestic charges are usually not withdrawn by the Crown especially in cases where there was a recorded statement taken under oath from the victim by the police. The Crown Attorney has a very clear directive from the Attorney General and a mandate to proceed with almost every case of domestic abuse in Canada.
Another big consequence that can be associated with these cases is the financial and social impact. A case may take up to a year or more before the trial is conducted after the charge was laid. During this time, the couple involved in the dispute cannot communicate or associate and they are basically always forced to live separately by court order. The couple must therefore assume all the many inconveniences, financial and other costs that are incurred as a result of both a “non-association” and “non-attendance” order.
Making any kind of report to the police is a serious matter. The police have an important job to serve and protect and their resources are not to be wasted or used improperly as there are dire and grave consequences to follow.
If you have been charged with any type of criminal offence or a DUI, you need to hire the best criminal defence lawyer you can. Contact us at Kruse Law Firm for a free initial consultation. We are here to help ….. Let us handle it.