October 31st is known nationwide as the spookiest night of the year, but what happens if your Halloween “trick” gets out of hand? As children mature into their teenage years, often they can get involved in events on Halloween and October 30th (sometimes called Mischief Night) that can have real-life consequences.
No matter how young or old you are, your “pranks” could result in you facing disorderly conduct charges if you are caught breaking the law. You need to be aware of how this law works in Illinois and whether you (or your kids) will be unintentionally breaking it by engaging in seemingly harmless Halloween “tricks.”
How Does Illinois Define Disorderly Conduct?
The disorderly conduct law in Illinois exists to punish those who are found to be impacting the safety of the public. This can be defined as an individual or group that is disturbing the peace or participating in conduct that results in members of the public being alarmed or disturbed.
Citizens can also be charged with disorderly conduct if they are engaging in acts that either waste public resources or cause stress to the public.
Since Halloween is known for being a holiday where people get a bit mischievous, there are all kinds of acts you might engage in that could potentially put you on the wrong side of this law.
Halloween Pranks That Break the Law in Illinois
Sadly, there are many classic Halloween “tricks” that technically break the disorderly conduct law. Acts such as egging people or property, throwing toilet paper over trees or houses, smashing pumpkins that are on private property, or threatening violence when dressed up in a costume could result in you or a loved one facing criminal charges. (That last one, by the way, could potentially end up being charged as assault!)
You may think that this sounds excessive, but there have been many arrests and convictions in Illinois over Halloween pranks, including multiple creepy clowns that have been spotted causing havoc for law-abiding citizens.
Due to the heightened activity during the night of Halloween, police are known to patrol more frequently than usual. You don’t want to make the news as the next overzealous individual who took Halloween too far.
Disorderly Conduct Penalties in Illinois
Getting charged and convicted of disorderly conduct could do more than just ruin your Halloween. If you are convicted, it could damage your chances at your dream career, leave you with a large fine to pay, or even result in you spending time in prison.
Misdemeanor charges can range from imprisonment for up to 30 days, six months, or even an entire year. You may also be issued fines to pay that range between $1,500 and $2,500.
Felony disorderly conduct charges come with even heavier punishments. You could end up imprisoned for between one to five years depending on the specific charge, and be hit with even larger fines. If you are convicted, you can also expect to serve community service.
No “trick” is worth facing penalties on these levels.
Halloween “Tricks” in Illinois: The Final Word
Don’t make this upcoming Halloween a night that you will regret.
You can still enjoy yourself without having to face the music of disorderly conduct charges. Stay safe, obey the law, and most importantly, have fun without breaking the law.
Our advice: if you or a loved one is charged, fight back.
If you’re not at that point, though, focus on the “treat” instead of the “trick” on Halloween. Don’t risk your freedom for a prank that could result in disorderly conduct charges. Trust us when we say that they’ll “haunt” you well into the coming year – and possibly beyond.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.