Falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater is one of the few items not covered under free speech laws in the U.S. This act could cause an entire audience of people to act in fear and could bring great harm to movie-goers. But shouting “fire” isn’t the only act in a movie theater that could lead to criminal charges.
Incidents of shootings at movie theaters have been in the news lately, striking fear in those who go to watch movies. Most notably, the massacre in Colorado during the opening of a Batman movie has led theaters to take increased security measures. Regal Entertainment Group has begun checking bags before people can enter the theater.1 Playing on this fear, pranksters recently took a leaf blower to the movies, and the noise caused a major scramble that could lead to criminal charges for the people who only thought they were pulling a harmless prank.
When a Prank Becomes a Crime
The incident occurred recently at a theater in Newport Beach. Four teenagers interrupted a late night showing of The Gift by turning on a leaf blower inside the theater. The action caused a commotion in the movie theater, with some suffering minor injuries as they scrambled toward the exit.2 The teens likely intended no harm, but authorities took the incident seriously enough to issue a warrant for their arrests. After turning themselves in, police are considering exactly what charges to levy on the four individuals.
Because of the uniqueness of this act, authorities are unsure exactly how to approach the situation. Since three of the alleged perpetrators are minors, the case may be sent to juvenile court. Many times, less serious charges brought upon juveniles are resolved informally through counseling, curfews and other measures that do not involve spending time in custody.3
The police have completed their investigation and transferred the case to the Orange County District Attorney’s office and the County Probation Department. The exact nature of the charges has not been released.4 However, all four of the people alleged to be involved could be facing serious consequences and a criminal record for what they thought would be a funny joke.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
What you may think is a joke could turn out to have serious consequences. That is why you need to be careful before you decide to pull a prank. Your prank could lead to serious criminal charges being filed against you. If you are accused of a crime, you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately. Our skilled criminal lawyers have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a skilled Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will be there when you call.