Tales from the ENLawyers Crypt
Can an innocent costume land you in the slammer? Last Halloween, I wore a DOC prison jumpsuit, gifted to me by a former prison guard. My wife and I left the house and on the way to a Halloween party; my wife hungered for some McDonald’s french fries (And yes, my wife was pregnant with our daughter at the time). So, I stopped at McDonald’s and ordered a cheeseburger, 4 piece nugget, and a large french fries.
The employee behind the counter saw my jumpsuit and immediately flew off the handle; yelling at me, cursing me for mocking jail life, and that her brother was incarcerated for LIFE. I kindly reminded her it was Halloween (hoping she did not spit in my wife’s burger). I am telling this story because I thought the situation was going to escalate beyond words, and Halloween seems to provide a reason for normal people to make bad decisions. Here at ENLawyers, we want to remind you that even small indiscretions can have lifelong consequences.
Halloween is often a night for our youth to run wild, flaunting, and breaking the law. Of course, we at the Law Offices of Eldridge & Nachtman, LLC would never encourage anyone to break the law, but for your entertainment and information, your favorite Baltimore Criminal Lawyer lays down the law on the top 5 Halloween Crimes (and their punishments under the Maryland Criminal Law Article):
1. “Egg” a House or Car
So you, or your child has thrown 4 dozen eggs on the siding of a house in the neighborhood or a neighbor’s car. The neighbor’s house has yolk all over the siding, and a power wash is required. Someone saw the act, and now you are facing malicious destruction of property charges. In Maryland, Criminal Law § 6-301. Malicious destruction is defined in that a person may not willfully and maliciously destroy, injure, or deface the real or personal property of another. The law provides the below penalties:
- (b) Penalty — Property damage of at least $1,000. — A person who, in violation of this section, causes damage of at least $ 1,000 to the property is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $ 2,500 or both.
- (c) Penalty — Property damage of less than $1,000. — A person who, in violation of this section, causes damage of less than $ 1,000 to the property is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 60 days or a fine not exceeding $ 500 or both.
2. “TP” or Tiolet Paper a House
So you or your child as taken all of the toilet paper you purchased at Costco last month, and thrown it over the neighbor’s house. Over the tall oaks in the front yard, and all over the front yard. Once again, someone saw the act, and you are facing criminal charges. Unlike the “egging” you will not likely face malicious destruction charges, as toilet paper does not destroy anything. The likely result is a violation of Maryland Law:
- § 10-110, the Litter Control Law (f) Penalty.
(1) A person who violates this section is subject to the penalties provided in this subsection.
(2) (i) A person who disposes of litter in violation of this section in an amount not exceeding 100 pounds or 27 cubic feet and not for commercial gain is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 30 days or a fine not exceeding $ 1,500 or both.
3. Stealing Kids Candy
So your child, definitely not you, is walking home after a long night being dressed up, but too ashamed to knock on doors and ask for candy. But just as you gave up hope of getting some bite-sized snickers to devour later that evening, here comes little 3’5 Ernie from down the street with a giant bag of candy. It truly was “like taking candy from a baby.” In Maryland, this is a violation of criminal law:
- § 7-104. General theft provisions:
(a) Unauthorized control over the property. — A person may not willfully or knowingly obtain or exert unauthorized control over the property if the person:
(1) intends to deprive the owner of the property;
(2) willfully or knowingly uses, conceals, or abandons the property in a manner that deprives the owner of the property; or
Now assuming the candy was worth less than $100.00, the penalty is listed below. If it is not, shame on you for stealing so much candy!
A person convicted of theft of property or services with a value of less than $ 100 is guilty of a misdemeanor and:
(i) is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or a fine not exceeding $ 500 or both; and
(ii) shall restore the property taken to the owner or pay the owner the value of the property or services.
NOTE: if someone steals your child’s candy, please call the police, or buy your child new candy. Do not be this Dad who pulled an AK-47 on the thief. While the retribution may sound appropriate, you will be charged with assault. Just like the NFL or the NHL, the revenge hit is always seen by the referee.
4. Weapons with Costume
You decided to dress up as Ninja or a Pirate. Aside from the fact you chose a great costume, please understand that you cannot simply walk around town with a sword, openly or concealed. Maryland Law, § 4-101. Dangerous weapons,
(1) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon of any kind concealed on or about the person.
(2) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon, chemical mace, pepper mace, or a tear gas device openly with the intent or purpose of injuring an individual in an unlawful manner.
The Penalty is the following:
(1) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $ 1,000 or both.
5. Stealing & Destroying pumpkins
This combo is especially lethal. Now your child has not only stolen all of the pumpkins in the neighborhood, but he has re-enacted “Punkin Chunkin” in the middle of your development. There are pumpkin parts everywhere, and it looks like Pumpkin War Z just finished, and we all lost. This crime is simply a combination of malicious destruction and theft.
1.If you are charged or accused with one of the above-listed crimes call your favorite ENLawyer, and we can represent you, or your family in court, and help resolve this case such that it does not remain on you or your child’s record forever.
2. Most of the above crimes, assuming you are not on parole or probation, or are not the bane of your neighbors’ existence, can be resolved with the local Office of State’s Attorney by way of community service and restitution for any damage involved. While our firm is often able to persuade the prosecutor to proceed this way, this is not always the case, and you will want aggressive representation to defend your family’s interests!