The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office showed some mercy and leniency on May 21 when it announced it will not be pressing criminal charges against a large group of high school students.
A prank was organized by a small group of seniors at Teaneck High School in Teaneck NJ, where they allegedly smeared Vaseline on door handles, knocked over desks and garbage cans, urinated in random areas, and sprayed graffiti in the high school. What began as a small group exploded into a huge crowd, as nearly 100 students showed up at Teaneck High School after midnight on May 1.
The students triggered three burglar alarms, alerting the local police. When the officers showed up, many of the students in the school were able to escape, but police still managed to make 63 arrests, including 24 people who were over age 18. Those arrested were immediately charged with burglary and criminal mischief.
Parents and school officials exclaimed disgust at the police for making a scene by arresting the students visible on camera. They also accused the police of exaggerating the reports of damage. Even the Teaneck City Council asked for leniency from the prosecutors.
In describing the decision to be lenient, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said that he “considered the impact that criminal convictions may have on individuals at such an early stage in their life.” The charges against the adults were downgraded to criminal trespassing and criminal mischief. Molinelli recommended that all of the students be sent to diversionary programs, which would allow them to avoid a conviction on their record.
John W. Tumelty has over 25 years of experience defending the rights of juveniles and adults facing criminal charges. If you or someone you love has gotten into trouble, contact the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty today.