Home Alone is considered a Christmas classic these days, and it’s no wonder when the plot revolves around a scared little boy fighting off two seriously bad dudes while trying to make the most of the holiday season. As a tribute to this holiday staple, lawyer Peter M. Liss is taking the opportunity to explore the many crimes featured in the film.
Crimes Committed by Harry and Marv
Obviously, the great majority of crimes committed in Home Alone are done by the evil burglars, Harry and Marv. From their first appearance, these two engage in several illegal activities, starting with impersonating an officer, which is punishable by up to one year in jail when you use a fake badge like these two.
The main crime these two are guilty of is burglary, which is punishable by up to three years in prison for every empty home they broke into and six years for breaking into Kevin’s house while he was there. These charges could also count as strikes on their record. Because they put ample forethought and planning into these burglaries, Harry and Marv would also likely face charges related to conspiracy to commit burglary, which carries the same penalties as burglary.
The fact that Harry and Marv threatened to hurt Kevin before entering his home also means they could face charges related to aggravated trespassing, which can be a felony or misdemeanor. However, these two would probably face felony charges due to the severity of their crimes, meaning they could face a prison sentence of up to three years.
Harry and Marv would also likely face felony criminal threat charges for threatening to hurt Kevin when they catch him and intend to do him harm. In fact, Harry says he plans to bite off each of Kevin’s fingers. While this crime could be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, in Harry’s case, it would probably be a felony. As a felony, it can carry a sentence of up to three years.
Finally, Marv chooses to leave the water on in the basements of all the homes they break into, which would result in additional vandalism charges against the duo. However, Harry could argue that he was not involved with this aspect of the crime and actually fought against it. Vandalism that results in more than $400 in damage can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, punishable by up to one year in jail if charged as a misdemeanor and three years if charged as a felony.
Kevin’s Parents and Child Neglect
Many see Home Alone and argue that Kevin’s parents should be charged with child abuse, endangerment, or neglect. If they did face charges, they would be unlikely to face anything more than a misdemeanor, as the acts were not intentional. As a misdemeanor, they would face up to a year in jail.
But it would be unlikely they would be charged with a crime because California’s child endangerment and neglect laws both require the parent to act willingly. While the prosecution can sometimes move forward in cases where the parent acted extremely recklessly even if they were not necessarily acting willfully, the McCallisters did not act willfully but were not reckless either. They simply had too much going on to be able to check that all of the kids on the trip were actually in place, even after attempting to do a headcount before going to the airport.
In fact, Kevin’s mom took many steps to show that she was doing whatever she could to remedy the mistake, including calling the police, calling the neighbors, and taking an arduous journey all the way back from France to get back to her son as quickly as possible.
Kevin’s Brutal Home Defense
Just as many people question whether Kevin’s parents should be charged with a crime, many also feel that Kevin is guilty of committing crimes. But not only would Kevin be ineligible to even be tried in juvenile court because he is under 12, but the only crime he could actually be considered guilty of would be resisting arrest, which happened when Kevin stole a toothbrush and ran away from a police officer.
Under California law, though, Kevin didn’t actually shoplift because he did not mean to take the toothbrush; he just ran away because he saw something that scared him and forgot that he had the toothbrush in his hand. While this might be silly for an adult to use as a defense, it’s not all that unreasonable for an 8-year-old.
Similarly, many people accuse Kevin of committing all types of assault and battery on Harry and Marv, but since he was defending his home and his person. He would be completely covered because he was acting in self-defense and defense of his house. While it’s illegal to use deadly force unless you face a deadly threat, it’s fair to say that Harry and Marv could be considered a deadly threat, particularly when viewed through the eyes of a scared 8-year-old.
If you have been accused of any crime, including those seen in Home Alone, such as assault and battery, child neglect, or even shoplifting, Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.