The Legal Implications of Throwing Eggs

Today’s Wall Street Journal Law Blog posted a look at the legal consequences of some traditional Halloween pranks, including smashing pumpkins, stealing candy and “toilet papering”. Enjoy!

Happy Halloween Law Blog readers! We might shut down a little early today to go celebrate with the kiddies, but before we do we want to make sure you’re all aware of the legal implications of trick or treating.

Let’s revisit an email we received last year from San Diego lawyer/radio host Jeff Isaac, who calls himself the “Lawyer in Blue Jeans.” “While some Halloween pranks are entirely predictable and sometimes regarded as a child’s ‘right of passage,’ most do break a law of some kind,” says Isaac, who ticked off the legal consequences of Halloween mischief. Here are a few examples:

  • Theft: Stealing candy from another person, or a location, is classified as “robbery.” Use a real or fake weapon in the commission of this robbery, and the stakes get even greater with possible felony-level re-classification as a “violent” crime for which penalties get gravely serious. So, trick-or-treaters should wield that pirate’s sword judiciously.
  • Vandalism: Throwing eggs or any other item at cars, homes or other personal property, smashing mailboxes, putting shaving cream on cars or garage doors can all cause permanent damage, and are considered more than just a prank by police. Retribution can include community service or repaying monetary damages that can add up to thousands of dollars.
  • Criminal Mischief: “Toilet papering” trees or other personal property, smashing pumpkins and other seemingly innocuous pranks are also unlawful, and can result in fines to cover property damages and other forms of civil law punishment.

Source: Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Posted by Peter Lattman October 31, 2007