A Prank Is Not Worth Jail Time

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A Prank Is Not Worth Jail Time

Social media posts involving pranks are on the rise. So much so that large platforms like YouTube are adding pranking to their list of dangerous activities, and asking for the public’s help in reporting these videos. 

According to studies of office workers, pranks in the workplace could be grounds for harassment cases and even termination. And sometimes, what seems like a harmless prank could also land you in jail. 

Will a Prank Get You Arrested? 

No prank is worth giving up your freedom. But if you’re convicted of criminal trespassing, vandalism, or assault in Arizona, you could be facing time in prison or in jail. No matter the intention, harming another person or their property could result in legal action. 

Having a misdemeanor or a felony conviction on your record can alter the course of your life. Aside from incarceration and probation, you could also be faced with social consequences like being unable to get fingerprint card clearance for a job or pass a background check to rent an apartment. 

Trespassing and Criminal Damage Charges

Both trespassing (being on someone’s property without their consent) and criminal damage (intentionally causing damage to someone else’s property) hold consequences that range from misdemeanors to felonies. 

Here are some examples of common pranks that could carry trespassing or criminal damage charges:

  • Toilet-papering or egging someone else’s property can cause criminal damage or require you to trespass.
  • Filling mailboxes with materials like rocks or sand can be considered criminal damage or mail tampering if there happen to be letters in the box.
  • Altering roadway signage by spray painting or adding stickers is considered criminal damage. If the damage impedes a driver’s ability to read the sign, it could cause an accident, depending on the severity could lead you into more legal trouble. 

Assault and Harassment Charges

Depending on the prank, you could be charged with assault or harassment. Depending on the level of assault or harassment, you could be looking at a misdemeanor or even a felony charge. 

Here are some examples of common pranks that could carry assault or harassment charges:

  • Spiking food or drinks, even with ‘harmless’ things like food dye, could be considered assault. It is impossible to know everyone’s allergies or health problems. Adding things to their diet could have detrimental effects on their health and be considered assault.
  • Jump-scares, like the clown costumes of several years ago, could also be considered assault or harassment. 
  • Staging a fake kidnapping might seem like fun for a birthday or stag party, but if the victim of the prank is unwilling, it could result in a very real kidnapping or assault charge.
  • Prank phone calls, especially to law enforcement, EMTs, the fire department, or school boards can get you in trouble, especially if the call is about a threat. 
  • Office pranks might seem like a good idea in a sitcom, but in an actual office, it could land you in hot water with HR and the police might even show up if the victim accuses you of harassment. 

It’s Only Funny If Everyone Is Laughing 

Mental health is a hot button issue, not just in schools, but at jobs as well. Pranking can often trigger people in ways that make them suffer physically or mentally. Along with hurting others’ feelings, pranking might even have deadly consequences. 

People who are scared or angry could retaliate and lash out with violence. Arizona is an open carry state, so you never know if someone might take a prank like a jump scare as a threat to their life. To ensure your safety and the safety of others, limit your pranks to family and friends who are willing participants in the game. 

Criminal Defense Attorney in Arizona 

Pulling a prank can get you arrested. If a prank you committed went too far, contact an attorney quickly. Choosing a good lawyer could be the difference between planning your next vacation or spending time in a jail cell. Contact us today for a consultation on your case.



Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (2/26/23). Photo by Bruno Aguirre on Unsplash.