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Avoiding Legal Trouble During COVID-19 Social Distancing

Many young people have more time due to schools promoting remote learning and workplaces cutting back hours, sending people to work from home, or shutting down all together.

Potential Causes from Criminal Mischief

The same types of issues that can lead a young person to make poor decisions during the summer months or during other times when their school, work, and extracurricular activities are reduced can cause poor decisions now.  These typically include things like:

  • Boredom;
  • Extra free time;
  • Posting things on social media that shouldn’t be posted;
  • Feeling confined to a home with family members who push each other’s buttons;
  • Going places that you shouldn’t be; and
  • Believing that no one is around or watching what you are doing.

Don’t let any of these types of activities lead you or a loved one in to legal issues during the social distancing.

What types of criminal law violations can someone really get in to at home?

You may wonder what type of trouble someone can get in based on the causes above.

  • Boredom can lead to poor decisions, such as drugs and alcohol as a method to dull the boredom.
  • Extra free time can mean more time spent with friends who engage in risk taking behavior.
  • More time on social media can lead to posts or direct messages online (even as jokes) that could include:
  • Siblings or other family members can act out against each other when confined to a smaller space together for extended periods of time.  If the acting out becomes threatening or physical, it can lead to serious criminal charges.
  • Boredom and free time can lead to a desire to explore less populated or abandoned areas that are marked with no trespassing signs.
  • Boredom and free time can also lead to going to parks or other places after hours or when they are closed, which can lead to police involvement.
  • When people believe they aren’t being watched or there are less people around, it can lead to increased incidents of vandalism or theft.

Practical Advice and Avoidance Techniques

Here are some tips to help keep you and your loved ones out of trouble during this time:

  • Have a plan for what you are and are not going to do.
  • Find and plan positive activities to stay engaged.
  • Tips for social media or online dangers:
    • Don’t post anything online that anyone could consider a threat, even in direct messages or text messages, and even as a joke.
    • Don’t post or send any images that involve nude or partially nude images of underage individuals.
    • Don’t post or send any images or messages describing or showing illegal activities.
  • Even when confined to your home, make sure everyone has ways to have their own space and that no one is stirring things up with other family members.
  • Look for and don’t go to places with no trespassing signs.
  • Look for signs in parks (even neighborhood parks) that have hours that they are open, and don’t go during closed hours.
  • Don’t assume that no one is watching you; behave as though everything you are doing is being watched.

We hope that everyone stays safe and arrest free during this time period.  If you end up with any unwanted interaction with the law that leads to criminal charges, know that we are open and available to help you.

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