Halloween and pranking are almost synonymous. In fact, at various times during its long history, Halloween has been called "Mischief Night", "Prank Night" and "Devil's Night".

The first use of "Mischief Night" was way back at Oxford in England in 1790.  Then, the term applied to the day before May Day or April 30th.  It began to be associated with Halloween in U.S. newspapers in the 1930s and 1940s.

While Halloween pranks can be fun, they can also get you some serious misdemeanors and, in some cases, criminal charges. Even the simple act of "egging" can cause serious legal consequences.

In Texas, egging falls under the definition of "criminal mischief".  According to Texas Penal Code criminal mischief occurs when a person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner:

  1. He/she intentionally or knowingly damages or destroys the tangible property of the owner;
  2. He/she intentionally or knowingly tampers with the tangible property of the owner and causes pecuniary loss or substantial inconvenience to the owner or a third person; or

He/she intentionally or knowingly makes markings, including Inscriptions,  slogans, Drawings, or paintings, on the tangible property of the owner.

If you "egg" someone's house and the damage is less than $100 or causes the owner substantial inconvenience, the crime is a Class C misdemeanor and can be punishable by a $500 fine. If the damage is between $100 and $750, it is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to $2000 in fines.

Judge holding gavel in courtroom
Chris Ryan
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If the Texas property damage is more than $2000, people convicted can be charged with a first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree felony. A conviction can lead to up to two years in state prison and a fine of $10,000.

This applies to any form of property vandalism, whether toilet paper or soap, or any other substance is involved. It can also lead to a permanent criminal record.  Not only that but paying attorney fees to defend against these charges can be costly.

Throwing eggs at a person can also cause serious charges. It can result in assault or battery charges if the person hasn't consented to be struck by an egg. Who consents to be struck by an egg?

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In Houston, a teen throwing eggs at random vehicles was charged with murder after fleeing an angry driver and striking the vehicle of a 45-year-old mom.

Justin Beiber had to do two years of probation and pay a neighbor $80,000 after that now-famous egging incident in Los Angeles back in 2014.

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash
Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash
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In addition to these crimes, even the simple act of scaring someone can lead to assault and battery charges. In Texas, it is a good idea to be smart about who you scare and how. Intimidating people or getting physical can look more like a threat than a joke to some.  You can be arrested even if you didn't intend to make someone feel unsafe.

It seems like simple fun, but common Halloween pranks can lead to real legal problems. Besides that, eggs and toilet paper are not cheap.

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