…Just in Time for Halloween
As October 31st approaches, many of us are planning to dress in fun, clever, or spooky costumes to participate in traditional Halloween celebrations. If reports from around the country (and the world) are to be believed, however, some people have been early to the party, dressing in clown costumes and causing general unease in their communities.
The “creepy clown” craze that has been sweeping the United States and other parts of the world involves reports of people dressed malevolent clown costumes menacingly lurking or even attacking others. This current iteration of the phenomenon (yes, it has happened before), seems to be traced back to reports in August of 2016 of kids in South Carolina telling their parents that a person dressed in a clown costume was trying to lure them into the woods.
Since then, there have been dozens of reports of creepy clowns, many of which have been causing local concern. It is currently unclear to what extent these incidents are really happening or whether they are the result of hysteria fueled by social media and false reporting.
Legal Issues Related to Creepy Clowns
From a legal perspective, the creepy clown phenomenon raises certain issues, both for those dressed as clowns and for the general public, some of which are discussed below.
Filing a False Report
There is significant speculation that the creepy clown craze is being fueled by false reporting more than actual events. Filing a false report to police or school regarding a threat could result in significant criminal liability.
Making a Terroristic Threat
Those people who dress as clowns as a prank to scare others may be accused of making a terroristic threat, depending on their conduct. Under New Jersey law, “a person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he threatens to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another or to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation, or otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience.”
People dressed as clowns who physically attack or threaten others may be guilty of criminal assault, as could non-clowns who choose to attack clowns due to a perceived threat.
Call 732-238-8686 today for more information.
If you have been accused of a crime related to a creepy clown hoax, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. To schedule a free consultation with New Jersey criminal defense lawyer David C. Barry, call our office today at 732-238-8686 or send us an email through our online contact form.