Sharpie Parties: Vandalizing Foreclosed Homes Is Not The Best Revenge Against the Bank Who Is Foreclosing, No Matter How Fun and Tempting a Highlighter Party May Be

Posted By on August 16, 2012

It’s sad but true that that American standard in ink pens, the Sharpie (TM), is getting its name known these days not so much for the high quality of the product itself, but because social media has taken to calling a certain kind of gathering a “Sharpie Party.”  Across the country, there is a growing trend among the users of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media venues, to issue a big invite for a gathering at the address of a particular home which is the subject of a foreclosure.  This is taking place in States like California, Florida, and elsewhere; they are meeting to have a “Sharpie Party.” Upon arrival at the party, guests are issued their own individual Sharpie highlighter pen.

These Sharpie Parties are a growing trend among young people – those who enjoy Twitter quite a bit – and these teens and college kids find it fun to use the markers to draw on walls, write messages, do whatever.  Most of the Sharpie Parties also result in other forms of vandalism: faucets left running, carpets torn up: you get the idea.

The Movie Project X Begins a National Trend

Apparently, the trend got a lot of publicity with the movie Project X: The Party You’ve Only Dreamed About.  In this film, social media is used to invite lots of young people to a party which results in partygoers wrecking the house it’s being held within.   The movie has been a springboard for kids across the country to host their own big, out of control parties using the web to spread the word.

Unfortunately, some of these Project X type parties have spiraled so far out of orbit that kids have died:  a shooting in Houston killed one partygoer last March. That same night, here in Florida, the Sharpie Party trend may have been officially debuted as a high school student who had seen the movie decided to have one of his own Project X type shindigs, using a foreclosed home as the party house: he vandalized the home by doing things like writing “break this window” on a glass pane, and was arrested by Miramar Police before the party ever started.  The teen, Christopher Dade, faced charges of criminal damage to property ($19,000) while police remained on the scene to stop and turn away thousands of teenagers who had heard of the party via social media.

Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:

First things first: Sharpie Parties involve vandalism. Vandalism is a crime; these party guests are risking arrest under Florida criminal law if they are caught at a Sharpie Party here in our neck of the woods.

What began as a teenage movie is apparently being used by angry home owners in some parts of the country as a vehicle of fighting back against the bank that is foreclosing on their home. Now, some very upset adults and homeowners are sending out invitations via the web to Sharpie Parties, not for guests to have fun so much as for guests to assist in reducing the value of the property itself through trashing the house.   These are invitations to destruction of property by men and women who have lost their home to foreclosure.

Sure, some argue that it is a protest against the American banking system and sure, that’s protected by free speech.  However, anyone going to a Sharpie Party has to be aware that in Florida, attendance may mean complicity in criminal conduct.  Just because you didn’t personally overflow the bathtub, put holes in the walls, spray paint the stucco, or put crud in the pool does not mean that you may not be arrested for these actions.

Will you be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony?  That’s hard to say: it all depends upon the value placed on the damages done – if the damage exceeds $1000, then you’re facing a serious felony charge here in Florida.

The Florida Legislature has passed a law defining “criminal mischief” and what it entails, as well as what penalties applies.  Florida Statute 806.13 states in part:

(1)(a) A person commits the offense of criminal mischief if he or she willfully and maliciously injures or damages by any means any real or personal property belonging to another, including, but not limited to, the placement of graffiti thereon or other acts of vandalism thereto.

(b)1. If the damage to such property is $200 or less, it is a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

2. If the damage to such property is greater than $200 but less than $1,000, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

3. If the damage is $1,000 or greater, or if there is interruption or impairment of a business operation or public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power, or other public service which costs $1,000 or more in labor and supplies to restore, it is a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.restore, it is a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at info@hallandalelaw.com or (954) 458-8655.

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