What is mischief?
Mischief is a common offence that might be very hard to prove. According to Singaporean legislation, “mischief” is committed when someone “with intent to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to the public or any person, causes the destruction of any property, or any such change in any property, or in the situation thereof, as destroys or diminishes its value or utility, or affects it injuriously”. Mischief doesn’t have to be directed towards a particular person – it is sufficient for the offender to know that he is likely to cause or has intended to cause damages or losses to any person by damaging or destroying any property – it doesn’t matter whether it belongs to that person. Mischief can even be committed if a person damages property belonging to himself – provided he has not caused harm or losses to others.
Examples of mischief
A typical example of criminal mischief damaging person is taking that person’s possession – a car, a computer, or even a book – and destroying it. Chopping down a tree which belongs to the city or defacing a public transportation stop is classified as mischief too, as the damage has been done to public.
However, not all mischief cases are so simple – even destroying your own property can be classified as mischief. For instance, burning insured house down with the intention of causing wrongful loss to underwriters is mischief. If someone intentionally runs his own ship ashore with intent that theft or misappropriation of ship’s cargo belonging to another person might be committed, the perpetrator can be punished with a 10 year prison sentence, and a fine.
Punishment for committing mischief
Generally mischief is punished by a prison sentence for a term of up to one year, by a fine, or both. However, several circumstances exist that can drastically increase prison term and the fine. If an act of mischief has caused damage of 500$ or more, or damage has been caused to a telegraph wire, line, post, etc.,the prison sentence will be extended to two years. If mischief has been committed by causing heavy harm to any animal – especially if it resulted in death of the animal or rendered it useless – the prison sentence may be extended to 5 years. Committing an act of mischief after preparations for causing death, hurt or wrongful restraints to any person also means a possibility of a 5 year prison sentence. Mischief with intent to destroy, damage or run ashore or aground a large sea vessel is punishable by a 10 year sentence. The biggest punishment is given for destruction of any building or ship by fire or explosives. This mischief can lead to life term imprisonment. Keep in mind that every punishment for mischief can be accompanied by a fine. Obviously the more damage has been done, the more the fine will be.
These examples show that mischief can be committed in any number of ways, and to any kind of property. But the main factors that constitute mischief are malicious intent and damage to property – which in turn causes harm to someone – either financial or corporal.
While random mischief committed by hooligans is unpredictable, but easily prevented or remedied, really damaging cases of mischief are often committed by a company’s employees, and can bring severe damage do very large damage to for the company. In some cases the company might have never recovered from such a blow. Imagine the damages when a company freight ship has been run ashore by the crew, all of it’s cargo has been stolen, and the ship is destroyed to cover the trail. Underwriters can even start their own investigation to determine if it has been a fraud to get insurance money.
However, there exists a way to prevent such mischief. Many private investigation agencies provide infiltration services. “Infiltration” means that one or more private investigators will infiltrate the company and provide it’s high level management with relevant information on employees, while at the same time searching for any signs of a conspiracy to cause mischief to the company. Having private investigators infiltrate your company is the most reliable and time-proven way to prevent mischief.
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