Everyone loves a good Halloween prank, and teens are notorious for taking these sorts of things too far. In fact, many Halloween pranks gone awry can result in criminal charges.
For your teen, this could mean severely compromising his or her future college and employment prospects. Let’s take a look at the criminal charges that can result from Halloween fun that seems to have gotten a little too out of hand.
In Colorado, criminal mischief is defined as knowingly damaging the real or personal property of another person. In other states, this offense is often known as vandalism.
For example, your teen eggs his friend’s car, causing paint damage, and the friend’s parents don’t find this to be all in good fun. Your teen could face criminal mischief charges as a result.
Criminal mischief is punished based on the value of the property damaged and can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the property in question.
Teens are known to kick up their heels and get rowdy around Halloween. Unfortunately, if this kind of behavior goes too far, it could be considered disorderly conduct.
Colorado classifies 26 specific acts as disorderly conduct, including but not limited to:
- Making a coarse or offensive gesture or utterance in a public place in such a way that it “breaches the peace”
- Making unreasonable noise in a public place or near a private residence that the defendant does not have the right to occupy
- Fighting in a public place
- Displaying a deadly weapon in a public place
Depending on the nature of the offense, disorderly conduct is considered either a petty offense or a low-level misdemeanor. However, your teen will be arrested in any scenario of disorderly conduct, and thus will be left with a criminal record.
Scaring people on Halloween is a time-honored tradition – one that most of us have probably enjoyed at some time or another. However, your teen should be careful about who he or she decides to sneak-up on, and how far to take these types of pranks.
If your teen causes someone to feel unsafe or in threat of imminent danger, what was meant to be a joke could legally be considered assault. Getting physical should always be off-limits, as physical contact could easily translate to battery charges.
For example, your teen sneaks up on a girl he has a crush on, hoping to catch her attention. Not expecting the prank, the object of your teen’s affections is scared out of her wits and calls the police. Even if your teen’s intentions were fairly innocent, this scenario could result in an arrest and a criminal charge of assault.
Minor in Possession and DUI
Many of us celebrate Halloween by knocking back a few drinks. However, should your underage teen choose to drink as a part of Halloween festivities, he or she could be hit with a minor in possession charge.
Beyond that, if your teen chooses to get behind the wheel after drinking and is stopped, he or she will be arrested for a DUI if his or her blood alcohol content is at 0.02%, which is much lower than the limit of 0.08% for legal-age drinkers.
We agree – Halloween “fun” is a rite of passage for many teens. However, because Halloween is such a popular drinking holiday, you can count on the police being out in force to catch underage drinking and drunk driving.
So talk to your teen now about what behavior crosses the line into criminal activity, and the long-lasting impacts their choices could have upon his or her future.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.