Vandalism, Theft and Breaking and Entering

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Vandalism and Graffiti

Deliberately breaking things that belong to someone else is a crime called “mischief.” It involves acts of vandalism, such as these:

•    breaking a window,
•    cutting a fence, or
•    breaking down a door.

You also commit mischief if you deface an object . Here are some examples of acts that might be mischief: carving your name on a park bench with a knife, scratching the window of a bus with a key or painting graffiti on a wall.

Damaging an object or making it unusable or dangerous is also mischief. For example, you commit mischief if you let the air out of a scooter's tires.

However, if someone gives you permission to paint graffiti on her property, it is not mischief. Remember to ask the property owner for permission in writing so you can prove that you have permission. You also have to respect any municipal by-laws.



Theft is when a people take things that don’t belong to them without having the right to do so and with the intention of depriving the owner of the object.  

Careful! Some acts might just be mistakes. For example, imagine that, at the end of a school day, you go home with a classmate's book, mistakenly thinking that it is yours. You haven't committed theft, just a simple mistake. However, if you realize your mistake but decide to keep the book anyway, it becomes theft!  
If the theft is committed with violence or threats, it is a separate crime called "robbery."


Breaking and Entering

Entering, or breaking and entering, means entering a place, like a house or a shop, to commit a crime in that place. The expression "breaking" means to break or open anything used to close a place. It is not necessary to break a window or force a door for the entering to be considered illegal. Just opening an unlocked door to a place could be breaking and entering.    

So, if you enter a house, you could be charged with breaking and entering. If you have no reason for being there, the judge might conclude that you were there to commit a crime.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.