City: Whitby, ON
Our Client: Ms. M.
Complainant: Ms. E.
Charge(s): Mischief Under $5000
Lawyer: Jay Nadarajah
Background: Neighbours can live peaceably side by side until one day a disagreement erupts which escalates to the point where police are called and charges are laid. Ms. M. lived alone next door to Ms. E. and her partner, divided by a shrubbery hedge. Years before she had asked her next door neighbours if she could cut the shrubs down and the male neighbour’s response was that he didn’t give a **** what she did with them. Every year, about three times a year, Ms. M. trimmed those shrubs. However, over time, Ms. M. began to feel terrorized by these neighbours. There were approximately seven incident reports between her and these neighbours; a long history developed with Ms. M. claiming that the male neighbour had made inappropriate comments towards her and would throw dirt and other objects into her house. More recently, Ms. M. was trying to sell her house so she could move to California to be with her children. However, the house next door was so poorly kept that the real estate agent said that it reduced the value of Ms. M.’s home by 35-50k! Ms. M. had complained to standards and enforcement authorities. When they came in to do a clean-up, the cost was added to the neighbour’s tax bill. The neighbour retaliated and had Ms. M. charged criminally with mischief under $5000 for cutting down the shrubbery. Ms. M. had, with her chain saw cut down the hedge so that she could do work on her fence beside it in accordance with a request by the city that the fence be lowered by 3 inches. Ms. E. confronted Ms. M., accusing her of cutting down four trees and causing $400 worth of damage. According to Ms. M., Ms. E. threw the chainsaw at her, leaving Ms. M. with a deep cut on her arm. Police did not accept that the cut was caused by Ms. E.’s action and instead charged Ms. M. with mischief under $5000 over the cutting of the hedge.
Goal: Ms. M. was alone in Canada as her adult children were all in California. She was planning to move there to be with them, but a criminal record could prevent her from entering the U.S. The goal was to avoid a criminal record.
Strategy: A trial would be too risky as Ms. M. was anxious and would not handle a trial well. Yet she needed to avoid a criminal record at any cost. We would negotiate and seek a Peace Bond, in which no criminal or civil liability would be admitted.
Results: The Crown was eventually persuaded to agree to a Peace Bond. However, as terms for the agreement, they also wanted Ms. M. to undergo mental health counselling and pay $400 restitution to Ms. E. In the end we achieved a result whereby Ms. M. entered into a Peace Bond in which no criminal or civil liability was be admitted, without having to take mental health counselling or pay restitution. The mischief charge against Ms. M. was withdrawn.