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Trick or Treat: Avoid a Nightmare on Halloween

in Criminal Law by Jon Tiller on
Trick or Treat: Avoid a Nightmare on Halloween

Halloween has become an increasingly popular event  in the Australian calendar — and has captured the imagination of lolly-loving kids to partygoers who enjoy a costumed affair.

In the midst of all the excitement it can be easy to get carried away in the atmosphere, here are a few tips to stay on the right side of the law  and  ensure the only fallout is a nervous visit to the dentist.

What if you don’t get candy when trick or treating on Halloween?

An increasing amount of households are getting on board with Halloween, leaving out lollies and decorations, but there are still many who just aren’t interested in participating.

If the kids are out trick or treating it’s important they know that if someone isn’t interested in handing out treats, a quick courteous return to the footpath is the best response. You cannot remain on another’s property without their permission, unless there is clear signage to the contrary approaching the door to try your luck for a lolly or two, refusal is a sign it’s time to move on.

What NOT to do if the treat is refused

What’s more despite the storied history passed on through countless movies of a trick as retribution for no candy, tossing eggs and toilet paper over a strangers home is unlikely to end well. Where lingering a while on someone else’s property is unlikely to raise most peoples temper, damaging someone’s property is a fast track to trouble. Smashing eggs across people’s property has the potential to cause damage and charges can follow, which is likely to leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.

The partygoer dressed for the occasion

Costume parties go hand in hand with Halloween, as everyone does their best to one up each other with extraordinary costumes of the grotesque and frightful, it’s not uncommon to see convincing knives, guns and all manner of counterfeit weapons to really sell the look.

The legal pitfalls here extend beyond your standard party problems. Like every other night of the year getting a little too carried away in public could see you facing disorderly charges and if your entire party gets out of control you can also be held responsible with charges to match.

What NOT to do when you’re dressing for the part

As with the trick or treaters, you have to remember not everyone is on board with the party and without context watching a person strolling down the street at night apparently bloodied with an equally bloodied knife may be cause for concern. Wherever possible leave the props in the car, at home, or do not have them out in public to avoid accidentally causing a scene. While you might know the toy knife or gun is actually as lethal as wet newspaper, a charge of being armed or pretending to be armed bears the same penalty.

Whenever you have to deal with a member of the public you should also make a point to just let them know you are going to a dress up party to set the service station attendant at ease, and if you’re dressed up as a police officer, make it abundantly clear it is a costume. Again, leaving the props at home till you go the party, and taking them off when you leave is a smart move to avoid being charged with an attempt to impersonate a public officer.

The take-home

As with all things, it’s a practice in common sense. Carrying around a convincing fake weapon in public on a regular day isn’t the best idea and while Halloween is catching on, it isn’t quite as pervasive as it is in the U.S. just yet.

Halloween is a night to break with some everyday conventions, and it’s smart not to abandon practical behaviour for the sake of staying in character. By keeping an eye on the basic pitfalls you’re certain to avoid the night becoming an actual nightmare.