Mischief to data is a criminal offense resulting from the unauthorized destruction or alteration of data on a computer system.
Although the charge is relatively rare, there are a variety of situations that may lead police to bring this charge against individuals who are unaccustomed to finding themselves in criminal court. Often individuals involved in civil disputes such as employment lawsuits or commercial litigation unexpectedly find themselves being charged with mischief to data.
In the employment context, employers may search the computer of former employees after they leave or are dismissed. If an employee was dismissed for cause an employer could be both looking for, and expecting to find, evidence that an employee has altered or deleted the information contained in a company computer. If employers do conclude that certain information on a computer has been altered or destroyed they may decide to pursue criminal charges.
Once contacted, police investigators often rely on an employer's investigation in order to satisfy themselves that they have the necessary reasonable and probable grounds to lay charges. Because of the reliance by police on the employer's version of events, those charged are often at the mercy of the facts as determined by their former employer. Bringing criminal charges can also be used in this way by employers to gain an advantage in civil proceedings with an employee.
Because it is a criminal charge, mischief to data must be proven by the Crown prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt. An individual accused of mischief to data is also entitled to the procedural protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and No Obligations. If one is charged with a criminal offence while in an civil employment law dispute it can complicate both sets of proceedings. It is important to obtain legal advice regarding the impact of each dispute upon the other and the different approaches necessary to properly defend and litigate each proceeding.
Frequently Asked Questions
Under Canadian law, you can be charged under a number of statutes. For example, prosecutions are commonly brought under the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, and the Provincial Offences Act.
Contacting a Lawyer for advice. In most cases, after you are charged, you will be released under a recognizance or a promise to appear in court. To ensure that you get all the information necessary to later argue your case, it is best to consult with a Lawyer at this early point in the criminal process.
Many Lawyers are available for free initial consultations, where they generally give overviews of the criminal procedures involved, as well as other valuable preliminary advice.
At Allan Snelling LLP, we regularly provide advice to people charged with criminal offences. Our firm partner Patrick Snelling has more than 18 years of experience representing people facing serious charges, and he and his team of dedicated associates are prepared to meet with people charged with offences and provide them with an initial consultations without obligation.
Arrangements for initial consultations may be made by calling our general information line at (613) 270-8600 ext. 0.
Disclaimer The information on this site is not intended to be legal advice. If you wish to obtain legal advice from Allan Snelling LLP with respect to a criminal or quasi-criminal charge, please contact Patrick Snelling directly at (613) 270-8600 ext. 225.