Maybe it’s because of Hollywood or maybe it’s just because California loves Halloween more than others, but we live in a pretty mask-friendly state overall. In fact, whereas some states only allow people under 16 to wear masks and others ban their use outside of October, anyone can wear a mask any time of year in California. But that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want while wearing a mask. Here’s what you should know according to a San Diego criminal lawyer.
Only one law in California explicitly mentions wearing a mask and that law bans using a disguise or mask to evade the police or commit a crime. Of course, evading the police is already a crime, but by doing it in a mask or other disguise, you’re committing an additional offense just like you are by wearing a mask to commit any other crime. The bottom line is that if you’re using a mask or disguise to hide your identity so you can get away with a crime, that alone is a crime. Wearing a mask for these purposes is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and $1,000. Fortunately, these smaller charges can often be negotiated away in a plea deal if you work with an experienced San Diego defense attorney.
Interestingly, while most people believe it is illegal to wear a mask into a bank or airport, doing so is perfectly legal in these areas as long as you’re not there to commit a crime. Of course, most banks and airports will ask you to remove the mask and failure to do so or to leave could result in your being charged with trespassing and then you could be charged with wearing a mask into these places.
Additionally, committing a crime with a mask on could be used as evidence that you used forethought about committing the crime, which could make you face more serious charges in some case. For example, if you break into someone’s home without committing a crime and there is no evidence you intended to commit a crime, you cannot be charged with burglary. On the other hand, if you wore a mask when you did so, you could not only be charged with wearing a mask to commit another crime, it could also provide evidence you intended to commit a crime while there and therefore, you could be charged with burglary as well. Again, an experienced burglary defense lawyer in San Diego could try to get the charges reduced or dropped in these types of cases -especially if it actually took place on Halloween when many people wear masks and disguises with no intention of committing a crime.
Finally, wearing a mask while driving could result in a ticket or even reckless driving charges depending on how much the mask obstructed your vision and on the officer issuing the ticket.
Whether or not you plan to wear a mask or costume this year, remember to have a fun, safe and legal Halloween. If you have any questions or happen to be charged with a crime after perhaps celebrating a bit too hard, San Diego criminal attorney Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by David Locke