More than 60 New Jersey high-school seniors were arrested early Thursday after allegedly trashing their school as part of a senior class prank.
Law enforcement responded to a burglary alarm at Teaneck High School about 2:30 a.m., finding greased doorknobs, urine-soaked hallways, and flipped desks. Although some students may have escaped police capture, 62 students were arrested, reports New York City's WNBC-TV.
What legal trouble could be in store for these high school pranksters?
School Break-in = Burglary
Breaking into your school as a prank may sound like a good idea at first, but maybe they hadn't considered the potential felony consequences.
When you think burglary, you may assume that some sort of theft has to occur in order for the suspects to be charged with burglary. Wrong-o. In most states, if you intentionally enter a building without permission in order to commit a felony, you can be found guilty of burglary.
That's the case in New Jersey, where entering a structure without license or privilege with purpose to commit an offense inside is a crime of the third degree, punishable by multiple years in prison. The New Jersey teens arrested in connection with the Teaneck High School prank have all been charged with burglary and criminal mischief, which includes destruction of property.
Since the high school seniors allegedly entered the school with the intent to commit criminal mischief, they may be found guilty of burglary.
Juveniles v. Adults
Funny thing about seniors in high school: Some of them are 18.
According to WNBC, 24 of those arrested in connection with the "senior prank" incident at Teaneck high were 18, which means they'll be very likely to have their cases tried in adult criminal court. NJ.com reports that police led these "adult" students in front of a municipal court judge who informed them that they would need to report to Central Municipal Court in Hackensack within 48 hours.
For those 38 seniors who are 17 and younger, they were released after arrest to their parents and are eligible for juvenile court in New Jersey. If they are found "delinquent" (the juvenile equivalent of "guilty"), these students may be sentenced to community service or even time in juvenile detention.
Senior pranks may be planned for students to leave their mark on a school, but these students now have criminal marks to deal with.
- 62 New Jersey students arrested for trashing school, peeing in hallways in elaborate senior prank: cops (New York Daily News)
- 7 Ways Senior Pranks Can Get You Arrested (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Penguins Vandalize TX High School (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
- How do Juvenile Proceedings Differ from Adult Criminal Proceedings? (FindLaw)