Characters in television and film have a long history of making false accusations and lying to authorities during investigations; maybe to keep the authorities away from them or to defend someone who they know. However, the effects of these activities are constantly overlooked. Deliberately deceiving law enforcement has massive repercussions. You could be charged with public mischief and sentenced to prison if you’re found guilty.
Public mischief Charges like any other criminal accusation, should never be taken lightly and should always be handled by a lawyer. If you or someone you know has been charged with public mischief, there are a few things you should consider.
What Is Public Mischief?
Falsely reporting crimes to the police results in wasteful investigations, wasted public resources, and, in certain cases, criminal charges being filed against innocent third parties.
Public mischief is a hybrid offense, which means it can be punished either summarily (for less serious offenses) or through indictment (for more serious offenses). The punishment for public mischief will be determined by how the case is prosecuted. If the case is prosecuted by indictment, one possible sentence is imprisonment. On the other hand, if the case is dealt with summarily, the sentence can range from a fine to probation or community work.
A Word on Penalties
A maximum penalty for a summary conviction is six months in a provincial jail and/or a $5,000.00 fine. If the Crown opts for an indictable conviction, the maximum penalty is five years in jail. Additional penalties, such as fines and probation, may be applied. Additionally, restitution is another option for compensating taxpayers. These sums can range from tens of thousands to tens of millions of dollars.
What the Crown has to Prove
The Crown must prove several elements in order to secure a conviction for public mischief. It must clearly show:
- the accused’s actions or words were false;
- the accused meant to deceive;
- the accused reported a crime;
- and the accused’s actions or words prompted a peace officer to initiate or prolong an investigation.
Public Mischief Examples
Here are a few examples of what constitutes public mischief as a criminal offense:
- Ambulance request that was made incorrectly
- A false request for firefighters
- Erroneous allegations
- Domestic violence allegations that are false
- Assault charges that aren’t true
- False report of a missing person
- Robbery report that isn’t true
What Should You Do If You're Accused?
If you’ve been charged with public mischief, you should speak with a criminal lawyer right away. This is an extremely complicated charge that will require the prosecution to prove many factors before you can be convicted. An FMK Law Group criminal defense lawyer can inform you about your rights and examine the case against you. By evaluating the case, circumstances, and relevant evidence, your lawyer will work with you and explain the available defenses.
Your defense lawyer may be able to organize a discussion or plea bargain to lower the sentence to a summary conviction or have the charges kept, depending on the context and facts of your case.