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Can Mischief Night Fun Turn Into a Criminal Conviction?

As Halloween approaches every year, people of all ages look forward to dressing up in costume, stocking up on candy, and attending parties and parades. This good-natured holiday does have a darker side though; that happens the night before, on Mischief Night. Some revelers use this night to smash pumpkins and decorate trees with toilet paper. Others take things too far though and can cause serious property damage and injure others.

Some towns in New Jersey have attempted to thwart the more serious mischief by creating zero tolerance policies. In these areas, juveniles who are caught in the act or have items like paintball guns and toilet paper with them may be arrested. Other towns have mandatory curfews, which means that anyone under 18 cannot be outside, unsupervised, between hours such as 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Juveniles who break these laws may find themselves facing criminal mischief charges.

NJ Criminal Mischief Charges

Individuals who are found liable for causing visible property damage may face second, third, or fourth degree criminal mischief charges. Throwing objects at homes or moving vehicles and vandalizing cemetery headstones or public utilities are dangerous and can all lead to these charges. Second degree charges are the most significant and are punishable with fines of up to $150,000 and five to 10 years in jail. Third degree crimes are punishable up to $15,000 and three to five years in jail; fourth degree charges can incur a $10,000 fine, probation, felony charges, and up to 18 months of jail time.

Less serious charges include disorderly person offenses. These can lead to consequences including fines of up to $1,000 and jail time as well. Trespassing charges are possible if a person enters private property like homes, schools, and businesses without permission.

Taking Precautions

Although children and teenagers may look forward to Mischief Night pranks, they may not realize that their actions can harm others and damage property. Parents and caregivers who take the time to explain the possible consequences beforehand can prevent their children from making serious and costly mistakes.

These well-intentioned warnings can be effective deterrents, but many teens and young adults will still get into trouble on Mischief Night. When this happens, parents may need to turn to a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer for legal guidance.

If you or your child have been charged with a crime, the South Jersey criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Agre & St. John can offer you sound legal guidance and representation. For a confidential consultation, complete our online contact form or call 856-428-7797 . Our Haddonfield, New Jersey office helps clients in South Jersey, including the areas of Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.

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