Public Mischief

The offence of public mischief is outlined in section 140(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of public mischief when they, with intent to mislead, cause a peace officer to enter into, or continue an investigation by:

  • Making a false statement accusing someone of having committed an offence they have not committed.
  • By doing anything that causes someone to be suspected of committing a crime they did not commit, or to divert attention from himself.
  • Falsely reporting that a crime has been committed.
  • By making it known in any that way a person has died, when that person has not died.


Person A and person B break up. Out of anger, person A posts an obituary for person B in the Toronto Star even though person B has not died.

Person C calls 911 reporting a man with a gun outside an elementary school to get on the news as a local hero, but person C did not actually see anyone outside the school.

Person D is being questioned by police officers about a robbery they committed and, to avoid liability, says person E, who was not involved in the robbery, orchestrated the robbery.


R. v. Delacruz, 2009 CanLII 72072 (ON SC)

In R. v. Delacruz, the accused was charged with public mischief when he wrote multiple letters while in custody to Children’s Aid falsely detailing how his daughter had been sexually assaulted by his ex-wife’s new boyfriend and how this new boyfriend kept guns and drugs in his house.

R. v. Frail, 2019 ONCJ 952

In R. v. Frail, the accused was charged with public mischief after he called 911 to falsely report that a bomb was going to go off in a bar that he had been banned from earlier that night.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Truth or Genuine Belief

Where a person genuinely believes or knows for a fact that someone has committed an offence, an offence has been committed, or that someone has died, they may have not completed the offence of public mischief by reporting this and causing a peace officer to investigate.

No Investigation

Where a person makes it known to others that someone specific has committed an offence, that an offence has been committed, or that someone has died, even where this is false, but no peace officer investigates, they may have not completed the offence of public mischief.

For example, if person A falsely tells person B that person C committed an offence, but this information never becomes known to a peace officer and no investigation into the matter ever occurs, Person A has not completed the offence of public mischief.

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