Not many places celebrate the night before Halloween, but New Jersey has historically ‘honored' the occasion. Mischief Night, as it is most commonly known, generally occurs on Oct. 30 of each year. On Mischief Night, kids and teenagers will typically engage in activities such as throwing toilet paper and smashing pumpkins displayed for Halloween. However, sometimes these activities can escalate and result in serious property damage, with serious penalties for criminal behavior. Every Halloween, criminal defense attorneys in NJ see a marked uptick in juvenile offenders and criminal mischief charges.
In order to combat Mischief Night damages, some New Jersey towns institute a mandatory curfew. Towns in Monmouth County, NJ recently announced curfews extending from Oct. 29 through Nov. 1 that generally prohibit people under the age of 18 from wandering the streets unsupervised. Curfew hours differ slightly but tend to begin around 8 p.m. and end at 6 a.m. However, if an adult accompanies a minor they may be permitted to stay out past the curfew.
Zero Tolerance Policy
Some towns in New Jersey also institute a zero tolerance policy. Juveniles who are discovered in possession of objects such as eggs, shaving cream, toilet paper or paintball guns can be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. Parents should pay extra attention to their child's activities and whereabouts in order to keep them safe this Halloween.
Common Criminal Charges on Mischief Night
If your child has been arrested in NJ for any of these criminal charges on Mischief Night or Halloween, contact an experienced NJ defense lawyer right away to protect your child's future.
Criminal Mischief (N.J.S.A. 18A:6-7.1)
Criminal mischief frequently arises on Mischief Night and Halloween. A juvenile can be charged with criminal mischief for actions such as throwing objects (like eggs or rocks) at moving vehicles, causing damage to private property, damaging public utilities or damaging headstones in a cemetery (not that uncommon on Halloween).
Disorderly Conduct (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2)
Disorderly conduct is not charged to juveniles as frequently as criminal mischief. However if police decide that someone is disturbing the peace or engaging in violent or dangerous behavior that exceeds a criminal mischief charge, a case for disorderly conduct can occur.
Trespassing (N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3)
Juveniles taking part in Mischief Night are at a high risk for trespassing charges. If your child enters onto private property without authorization, he or she may be charged with trespassing. Trespassing laws also protect schools, which are frequently the target of Mischief Night.
Protect Yourself from Criminal Mischief Charges with Villani & DeLuca
If you or someone you know has been charged with criminal activity in New Jersey, contact a criminal defense attorney you can count on. You can also reach Villani & DeLuca by phone at (732) 709-7757 for a free consultation.