When does a prank become a crime?

Published by Jessica Burke on

Unlawful Mischief often begins as a prank. 

Many Vermont teens and young adult clients have told me that what became unlawful mischief started out a prank.  The Vermont unlawful mischief statute can be found here.

Unlawful Mischief occurs when “a person who, with intent to damage property, and having no right to do so or any reasonable ground to believe that he or she has such a right, does any damage to any property.” The Vermont unlawful mischief law outlines the potential penalties for damaging another’s property. The greater the value of the property, the greater the potential penalties.

Unlawful Mischief can range from simple damage to a fence or mailbox all the way up to significant damage of a car or dwelling. 

With Halloween approaching, many of us remember playing tricks on neighbors or running wild with silly string and spray paint. It’s important to remind teens and young adults that damage to property can result in criminal consequences.


Jessica Burke

Jessica Burke is a licensed Vermont attorney and the founder of Burke Law. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Boston College in Political Science, and then received her law degree from Washington & Lee Law School. After law school she worked with several top law firms before settling in Vermont and building her own practice. In addition to being licensed to practice law in the state of Vermont, she also holds a State Bar certification in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, among others. She specializes in criminal defense, including DUI defense, homicides, and sex crimes.

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