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Toronto Mischief Charges Lawyer

Graffiti: Tagging property mischief charges

It is a criminal offence to paint on public, private and commercial property that you do not own fully and completely. It doesn’t matter if it is an old dumpster at the bottom of a dark lane, or the front doors of Toronto City Hall, if the police catch you tagging they will charge you with mischief.

You will be fingerprinted and have your mug shot taken and have to go to court to defend the charges. Many of these cases are the result of eye witness accounts from the Police themselves which is generally considered very strong evidence against the defendant.

I consider myself an artist and wasn’t trying to cause any harm

Most of the people who are charged with graffiti mischief are males under 30 who seem to take an interest in visual art. They may plan to work in the arts someday or currently hold occupations in graphic design, videography, advertising or another somewhat artistic profession. It doesn’t matter how good of a graffiti artist you are. Even Banksy would be charged with mischief if he got caught painting on a building without permission in Toronto.

Many tags appear to have no meaning or artistic value whatsoever

While the artistic quality of the work is irrelevant either way, a lot of the tags we see are scribbles or words with little or no meaning to the author. Why would someone risk getting a criminal record for this? It is important to note that most people do not realize this is criminal behaviour until they first get charged. Secondly, it is appears many just enjoy leaving a mark on something. Some people get enjoyment seeing something they made just being there and viewed by others regardless of its artistic value. Sometimes these quick/easy marks are made in haste over more elaborate drawings because they want to act quickly without getting caught.

What cases are considered the worst?

The background of the offender is always considered by the courts. Those with relevant priors will always be prosecuted more seriously however the Crown Attorney may seek jail for even a first time offender depending on the number of tags, the size of the tags, the difficulty of their removal, the location of them, and most importantly their content. If the tags contain content that is deemed offensive to particular cultural groups based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. this will be considered extremely aggravating in all cases. This can include using offensive racially charged language, encouraging violence, hate, or tagging religious or property of minority groups even if the tag itself something benign.

I have done a lot of graffiti in the past. Will the Police recognize this as my work and add additional charges?

They certainly can and this will make your case a lot worse. This is one of the reasons why is it important to call a lawyer immediately if you are suspected of mischief and exercise your right to silence. Sometimes the Police deploy units to investigate repeat taggers and catch them. This is common for graffiti that repeated is done on city property, public transportation property, and in related areas. Some graffiti artists have a distinctive style or signature which can give away their identity. Of course, it is up to the Police to prove their case in court so an inference of guilt is likely not enough. For this reason they will look for additional evidence usually in the form of the offender incriminating himself.

Co-accused cases

Graffiti/tagging cases do have a propensity to involve co-accused individuals working together. It is our preference to represent all of the accused in these circumstances assuming there is no conflict that exists between them.

How do I know if I am being criminally charged?

If you are being charged with mischief the Police will either provide you with a Form 9 “Appearance Notice” with a fingerprint date and a court date, or a Form 10 "Undertaking" with a fingerprint date (if you have not already been fingerprinted at the station upon arrest) and a court date. A Form 10 Undertaking will often have other conditions such as not to attend at a certain area, associate with co-accused, the victim, or another 3rd party, or possess paint. In some cases the accused will be held in custody for a bail hearing and may ultimately receive a Form 11 Release Order with similar conditions as an Undertaking.

Regardless of the method of the release the accused must be fingerprinted, have their mug shot taken, and attend court (or have their lawyer do so for them) otherwise a warrant will be issued for their arrest and they will likely be charged with Failure to Comply in addition to the mischief charges when they are rearrested.


Call us today

You don't have to jeopardize your future or waste thousands of dollars on excessive legal fees. We provide effective and affordable lawyer representation for those charged with mischief in the Toronto area.

Have a skilled criminal lawyer who focuses on mischief charges protect you and your future from the stigma and consequences of a criminal record and conviction.

    call us: 647-228-5969


  call us: 647-228-5969


Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Ontario. For more information about our lawyer, click here.

We provide our clients with:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • US travel advice and information
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Clear goals of getting charges dropped and bail conditions varied without a trial
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Experienced, focused counsel

* Please note:

If you are not a paying client, we cannot answer questions and provide assistance with U.S. travel, immigration, employment background checks, and avoiding a criminal record. This includes those who have already retained other counsel and those whose cases have already been completed.

We only can take calls/emails relating to Ontario, Canada area cases. Please see our FAQ for a listing of the courthouses we service.

Are you a lawyer? If you are defending a mischief under or over $5000 related case and are looking for expert advice regarding possible defences, case strategies, and information release management call us at: 647-228-5969.

Please note: We do not accept legal aid certificate cases. All clients are handled on a private retainer only.


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        More Information:

  We provide:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • A clear goal of getting the charges dropped without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Timely resolutions
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel