The Legal Reasons Why You Shouldn't Throw Eggs at Anything
Eggs are undeniably useful in cooking, and some may argue that they're a useful form of protest. The practice of egging comes into particular focus this time of year when, in addition to toilet papering houses and smashing pumpkins, rebellious kids have been known to throw eggs at buildings, cars, and people all in the name of Mischief Night, Devil’s Night, or whatever you call the night before Halloween. The consequences of this most unholy way to use eggs can be severe. Notably, Justin Bieber paid $80,000 in damages after pleading no contest to a criminal misdemeanor vandalism charge for egging his neighbor's home in a non-Halloween-related incident. I’m not saying that will happen to you, but you should be aware of the very real legal consequences of egging. Here they are, just in case the moral reasons for not egging houses, cars, or people aren’t enough.
When you egg a house, you are committing vandalism. In New York State, vandalism falls under the category of Criminal Mischief, and in most cases, this kind of vandalism would be criminal mischief in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor defined as intentionally damaging another person’s property or recklessly (i.e. accidentally) damaging property in an amount exceeding $250. If the vandalism is intentional as opposed to reckless (which, let’s be real, those eggs weren’t heading for an omelet pan) and exceeds $250 in damages, that misdemeanor could be upgraded to criminal mischief in the third degree, which is a felony.
Unless you have an exceptional arm, the act of egging a house also goes hand in hand with trespassing, which in New York, is merely a violation. If the target of your criminal mischief lies beyond a fence, gate, moat, or anything else that sends a clear message against intruders, and you enter the property to throw eggs anyway, that’s criminal trespass in the third degree, a class B misdemeanor. A violation is not a crime, so will not result in a criminal record, but you could get 15 days in jail. However, class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and class B misdemeanors by up to 90 days in jail, while felonies can lead to a sentence that exceeds one year in jail. The lesson: Don’t egg houses.
Like egging buildings, egging cars is vandalism, and the same laws against criminal mischief apply. However, note that the damage done to a car from eggs can be extensive. Egg shells can cause scratches, and egg yolks and whites are not kind to car paint. Damage from just a few eggs could call for an entirely new paint job, which can cost more than $250, meaning this kind of egging may be a felony. If you have to egg some kind of property, avoid cars at all costs because, if caught, it will cost you. The lesson: You really shouldn’t egg cars, either.
In one of the best episodes of Freaks and Geeks, Lindsay Weir rebels against her squeaky clean image by participating in some casual law-breaking with the freaks—they stomp pumpkins, destroy mailboxes, and throw some eggs. Lindsay regrets it immediately, not because she was charged with battery, but because her egging victim is also her humiliated little brother. The possibility that the person you egg might be someone you care about is just one reason egging a person is a terrible idea, as if the potential for being sued for assault and battery weren’t enough.
In New York State, egging another person would most likely qualify as assault in the third degree, which includes both intentionally and recklessly causing physical injury to another person. Physical injury is defined as “impairment of physical condition or substantial pain,” which, when it comes to egging, is a surprisingly real possibility. In 2005, a Halloween egging left a teen blinded in one eye. The teenaged culprits were charged with misdemeanor third-degree assault and harassment. Plus, eggs carry bacteria, like salmonella, which can enter the body through the eyes. The lesson: You should especially avoid throwing eggs at people.
Now, how about you hard boil those eggs and bring your neighbors a nice Halloween breakfast instead?