New Jersey “gallon smashing” prank leads to arrest for three teens
In a story that made headlines in New Jersey and throughout the nation, police arrested three teens over their alleged involvement in a so-called “gallon smashing” incident in a New Jersey Walgreens store. According to NBC news, the incident took place on March 7, 2013.
Gallon smashing is a recent Internet phenomenon in which pranksters go into a store and smash gallon-sized jugs of milk or other beverages on the floor while pretending to slip and fall. Videos of gallon smashing pranks have been heavily circulated on websites like Facebook and YouTube, with one such video netting over 3 million views in under a week, ABC News reported.
Destruction of property triggers criminal charges
Unfortunately – and perhaps not surprisingly – not everyone is laughing. A New Jersey law enforcement officer quoted by CBS pointed out that the stunts risk injuring other shoppers, including children and elderly individuals, if they are struck by the gallon jugs as they fly through the air. Others have expressed concerns that store employees or customers may become injured if they slip and fall on the wet floor.
Along with the safety concerns around the gallon smashing phenomenon are potentially serious legal issues. In the incident allegedly involving the three New Jersey teens who were arrested recently, a police officer quoted by NBC said the prank caused over $500 in damaged merchandise. In addition, stores that are targeted in gallon smashing pranks also bear the cost of cleanup, which can be expensive and time consuming.
The teens involved in the recent New Jersey incident were charged with criminal mischief, according to the NBC report. Local police are also investigating another gallon smashing incident at a nearby supermarket.
New Jersey criminal mischief law
Under New Jersey law, criminal mischief is defined in several different ways, including:
- Purposely or knowingly damaging someone else’s property
- Negligently or recklessly damaging someone else’s property through the use of explosives, fire or other dangerous means
- Purposely, knowingly or recklessly tampering with someone else’s property in a manner that endangers a person or property
The degree of a criminal mischief charge, as well as the penalties resulting from conviction, vary according to the extent of the damage done and other circumstances involved in the offense. A central issue in many New Jersey criminal mischief prosecutions is the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the alleged crime, since damage inflicted accidentally may not constitute criminal mischief.
If you or a loved one has been charged with destruction of property or criminal mischief in New Jersey, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you defend against the charges and minimize the negative consequences of the arrest. Contact a knowledgeable attorney in your area for more information.