Pranksters could face gun, assault charges — JCF Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Jamaica Constabulary Force Force (JCF) is warning social media influencers who engage in the “unsafe practice” of pranking to desist from “creating fear and mayhem in the society”, given the danger surrounding such acts.

In fact, Detective Corporal Sasha-Gay Mullings of the Corporate Communications Unit says pranksters can be prosecuted for a variety of offences, including creating public mischief, assault, breaches of the new Firearms Act, and manslaughter, based on the circumstances of the pranks.

“Loosely, pranking is a mischievous act or joke played on someone. The circumstances of the prank will determine whether it can be viewed as an offence once reported, and a range of offences may be committed,” Mullings declared.

There has been a noticeable increase in prank videos across social media, with one female victim of a “fake” robbery outside an automated teller machine (ATM) in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew telling Loop News that she thought she was going to die.

Days later, after that and other videos went viral, the JCF said it was concerned about such prank robberies, but some social media users have been questioning the legitimacy of such concerns by the police, as the pranks were intended to create humour.

Mullings, speaking in a JCF Instagram video on Tuesday, noted that in circumstances where a report is made of such pranks, and the police have used resources to investigate such matters, “charges can be laid for creating public mischief”.

She used one of the viral videos of a robbery prank as an example, during which two men approached a woman and instructed her to: “Gimme every ting yuh have inna the bag.”

The woman can then be seen screaming and running away from the area.

“This could be viewed as an assault or breach of the peace,” said Mullings. “If the victim makes a report to the police, identifies the culprits, who then become a subject of an investigation, charges may be laid for assault and/or using threatening language,” she said.

The detective corporal also noted that in a number of the prank videos being circulated, “imitation firearms are being brandished, or allegations are being made by the pranksters that they possess firearms for the victims to comply.

“Note, both of these practices are related to offences listed under the Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act, 2022,” Mullings stated.

“This addresses, among other things, using an imitation firearm, and also seeking unlawful benefit or causing apprehension of any person by professing to have a firearm or access to a firearm,” she continued.

“In the event that a prankster’s reckless, unlawful, and deliberate behaviour leads to injury or loss, including loss of life of a victim, the circumstances will dictate what legal implications will flow,” she added.

If a prankster pretends to be robbing a person, “causing such fright that a heart attack is induced and the person dies”, Mullings said the prankster “may have committed the offence of manslaughter”.

She said that such a conviction would be determined by a judge of the Supreme Court and a jury.

Meanwhile, the detective corporal is urging social media influencers to desist from carrying out such pranks, as they could also be hurt during the acts.

“For example, if a reasonable person honestly believes that the prank was an attack from which he or she needs to defend themselves, self-defence will be invoked,” Mullings cautioned.

“Pranking is not a defence, and so pranksters cannot use it to absolve themselves of liability,” she indicated.

To that end, the JCF is once again advising that these prank videos being circulated on social media for “likes” and “fame” are not in keeping with the promotion of a safe society, but instead, “promotes heightened fear associated with criminal behaviour”.

Mullings is inviting victims of pranks to report the pranksters.