The fine line between Halloween pranks and felonies
(KATV) - Kids have been pulling pranks for years, butall you have to do is take a quick look online to find out that some moretraditional pranks are being taken to a whole new level.
All over YouTube you can find teensdescribing their egging as epic. They openly brag about the number of rollsthey use to coat the trees at neighbors houses and they aren't afraid to steala few pumpkins. Teens pull pranks and then proudly post them online. Athrill can come from doing something questionable but kids and parents need toremember there's a fine line between something funny and a felony.
Steve Straessle, principal at Little Rock'sCatholic High knows that difference well. In September, just days afterCatholic High dedicated its new football field, a student from a rival schoolvandalized the field. The prank could have been prosecuted, but insteadStraessle gave the student the opportunity to turn himself in, pay for therepair to the field, and make restitution back to Catholic High with an essayand more than 50 hours of community service.
"The young man who did the vandalism, Itruly believe the thought while he was doing it that it was nothing more than aprank that he was doing something that was funny that was going to get him alittle bit of attention around school," Straessle said. "But when he saw themedia coverage, when he heard the damage estimates, when he realized there wasoutrage, he quickly realized he had done much more than a prank."
That's the danger - when something becomesmuch more than a prank. Straessle says it all boils down to intent. If ateenager is sure that everyone is in on the joke and it isn't going to besomething that threatens, harasses, or hurts anyone or any property, the prankmay be just fine. He cautions, however, if parents find a stash of paintcans or eggs in their teenager's room. It's time to start asking questions.
"A teenage boy with a bunch of eggs inhis room is not looking to make an omelet. A teenage boy is looking to dosome damage to some property and that's another thing. If he's going to damageproperty, that's not a prank anymore - that's a crime."
That's where the police could step in. Sergeant Cassandra Davis with Little Rock Police says most pranks fall underthe category of criminal mischief. Depending on the act and the damage toproperty, teens and even parents can be charged with misdemeanors or feloniesfrom pranks that have gotten out of hand. Her advice is to keep it simplethis Halloween.
"It could escalate to something else,you go out with intentions of rolling someone's house and then you end upsmashing a mailbox, driving across the lawn or maybe you throw eggs and breakwindows and the homeowner has to replace windows. So it can escalate reallyquickly," Davis said.
Thebottom line is that parents need to know where their kids are and what they'redoing. Also remind them of the golden rule: If you don't want somethingdone to you, don't do it to someone else.