October can be one of the most eventful months of the year for many college students. Young adults are ready to throw multiple celebrations as Halloween approaches now that the old and new students have settled in. There are plenty of parties offered on and off campus that everyone dresses up to attend to.
With the increasing chaos around campus, police officers become more active around the closing months of October to observe any suspicious activity from the students. While everyone is aware of the increase in DUI arrests around this holiday, some also forget that property damage drastically increases during the festivities. Insurance claims filed around Halloween can rise up to nearly 20 percent from all of the mischief caused by both children and fellow students. It is important to be aware of potential criminal charges if your friends try to get you involved in one of their schemes.
While South Carolina has separate laws stating the charges for hurting animals or inflicting explosions upon someone’s area, the most common violations around Halloween are against Section 16-11-520. This law enforces charges upon those who maliciously damage someone else’s tree, house, outside fence or fixture. Prosecutors can use the holiday to have an easier time proving that you did so willfully or maliciously.
You could be facing some serious charges depending on how severe these damages to the property were. A first-time violation lone could land you a conviction with up to ten years if those damages exceed $10,000. If it is less than $2,000, then you will receive misdemeanor charges and receive fines up to $1,000, be imprisoned for up to 30 days, or both.
A mess of graffiti
The rebellious nature of the holiday has led to many preparing their spray cans to make their mark on someone else’s property. Committing illegal graffiti vandalism on someone else’s property is a misdemeanor which results in up to a $1,000 fine and up to ninety days in prison on your first offense and additional penalties for cleaning up the markings. As with most penalties, the charges increase if there are subsequent offenses within ten years.
The state also has separate charges if these acts of vandalism are committed on buildings of worship. Anyone that damages or defaces a church will receive felony charges resulting in up to ten years in prison and $10,000 in fines. South Carolina has seen vandalism on churches in October as early as last year.
Halloween is a fun time for many college students, but all it takes is one night to receive misdemeanor or felony charges that could ruin your scholarship and the rest of your academic life. If you find yourself facing property damage or vandalism charges, a criminal defense attorney can help you minimize or prevent a potentially hurtful conviction.