The fine line between Halloween pranks and felonies - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

The fine line between Halloween pranks and felonies

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(KATV) - Kids have been pulling pranks for years, but all you have to do is take a quick look online to find out that some more traditional pranks are being taken to a whole new level.

All over YouTube you can find teens describing their egging as epic. They openly brag about the number of rolls they use to coat the trees at neighbors houses and they aren't afraid to steal a few pumpkins. Teens pull pranks and then proudly post them online.  A thrill can come from doing something questionable but kids and parents need to remember there's a fine line between something funny and a felony.

Steve Straessle, principal at Little Rock's Catholic High knows that difference well.  In September, just days after Catholic High dedicated its new football field, a student from a rival school vandalized the field.  The prank could have been prosecuted, but instead Straessle gave the student the opportunity to turn himself in, pay for the repair to the field, and make restitution back to Catholic High with an essay and more than 50 hours of community service.

"The young man who did the vandalism, I truly believe the thought while he was doing it that it was nothing more than a prank that he was doing something that was funny that was going to get him a little bit of attention around school," Straessle said. "But when he saw the media coverage, when he heard the damage estimates, when he realized there was outrage, he quickly realized he had done much more than a prank."

That's the danger - when something becomes much more than a prank.  Straessle says it all boils down to intent. If a teenager is sure that everyone is in on the joke and it isn't going to be something that threatens, harasses, or hurts anyone or any property, the prank may be just fine.  He cautions, however, if parents find a stash of paint cans or eggs in their teenager's room. It's time to start asking questions.

"A teenage boy with a bunch of eggs in his room is not looking to make an omelet.  A teenage boy is looking to do some damage to some property and that's another thing. If he's going to damage property, 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 under the category of criminal mischief.  Depending on the act and the damage to property, teens and even parents can be charged with misdemeanors or felonies from pranks that have gotten out of hand.  Her advice is to keep it simple this Halloween.

"It could escalate to something else, you go out with intentions of rolling someone's house and then you end up smashing a mailbox, driving across the lawn or maybe you throw eggs and break windows and the homeowner has to replace windows. So it can escalate really quickly," Davis said.

The bottom line is that parents need to know where their kids are and what they're doing.  Also remind them of the golden rule: If you don't want something done to you, don't do it to someone else.

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