Students across Tennessee have more free time on their hands than usual right now. And while some are using this time as an opportunity to binge-watch TV or learn a new hobby, others are discovering more mischievous outlets.
In recent weeks, certain types of pranks have become increasingly popular. These pranks, which may seem innocent or harmless, can have severe consequences for those who pull them. This can be especially true in the following scenarios if they lead to criminal charges.
There has been a sharp increase in people hacking teleconferencing apps, like Zoom. In fact, it even has its own name, now: zoombombing.
Pranksters who sneak into these virtual meetings without an invitation are harassing others, spreading hate speech and sharing offensive images and statements. However, what may start as a practical joke can have very real consequences if the actions rise to the level of a criminal offense. In some cases, a zoombomber could wind up facing federal charges, steep fines and imprisonment.
Coughing and sneezing
It is not a crime to cough or sneeze, but in the current climate, such actions can lead to arrest. In some areas, police are arresting people who intentionally cough on things like food or other people because doing so can expose others to the novel coronavirus.
So far, at least two people have faced charges, including terroristic threats and threatening violence against others.
Throwing a party
Again, under normal circumstances, throwing a party would typically not be a criminal offense. However, during this time of stay-at-home orders and bans on large gatherings, having a party can quickly result in a response from law enforcement.
In many cases, partygoers will have ample opportunity to go home or close down an event without facing harsh penalties. However, those who fail to comply with these orders can be charged with a misdemeanor.
Even if you disagree with the law or think that pulling a prank is harmless, you could still face criminal charges for these and other mischievous acts. That said, people make mistakes. Having to pay for them with imprisonment or a permanent stain on a criminal record can be unnecessary, so defending against the allegations will be critical.