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There are innocent high school pranks, and then there are outright acts of vandalism. And the line between the two can be nearly invisible. Ten Arkansas teenagers allegedly crossed that line and then some by spray painting, super gluing, and etching a rival team's beloved panther mascot statue.
So what kinds of charges, and punishments, could these kids be facing? (And could their parents be in trouble, too?) Here's a look.
Nine of the ten arrestees were under the age of 18 and, according to Little Rock's KATV, are still awaiting charges from the Saline County Juvenile Authorities and the Saline County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. They may have dodged the proverbial bullet, since juvenile court punishments are generally limited to fines or community service rather than jail or prison. Juveniles can also petition to have their court record sealed, and sometimes destroyed, under certain circumstances.
One of the ten accused vandals is 18, and was charged with criminal mischief, a catchall crime that often includes vandalism. Criminal mischief in the first degree in Arkansas occurs when a person "purposely and without legal justification destroys or causes damage to [the] Property of another," and is a Class C felony if it causes $500 worth of damage or more. Unfortunately for this young man, the damage to the school's panther statue was estimated to be $4,000, meaning he could be looking at 3-10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Speaking of the damages, when a child or juvenile is convicted of vandalism his parents could be on the hook for restitution. Restitution can be ordered in addition to any criminal fines and court costs, all of which parents could be liable for if the child can't pay. Parents could also face a civil suit from vandalism victims, as they are generally liable for their children's behavior, but there's no indication the school in this case is interested in filing a lawsuit.
Criminal charges are no joke -- if you've been charged with a crime you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.