Is Ding Dong Ditching as Harmless as Pranksters Think?

For generations, youngsters have been “ding dong ditching” their neighbors for a quick laugh. The term “ding dong ditching” is associated with the act of ringing someone’s doorbell and running away before the unsuspecting victim can answer the door. Although this prank is often played by children and teenagers who believe they are engaging in harmless fun, that fun can have serious consequences if you are caught in the act. This rings true for other pranks, such as egging a house, which is considered vandalism and can result in a criminal mischief charge. To read more about the law behind egging a house, the penalties, and the defenses, visit our blog here. So, what are the possible penalties associated with ding dong ditching? This blog will explore that and more!

The act of ding dong ditching is considered criminal trespass. Criminal trespass falls under two categories. The first is trespass in structure or conveyance, codified under Section 810.08 of the Florida Statutes. The second is trespass on property other than structure or conveyance, codified under Section 810.09 of the Florida Statutes. Trespass in a structure or conveyance is when a person, without authorization, willfully enters or remains in any structure, like a building, or conveyance. In contrast, trespass on property other than structure or conveyance occurs when a person, without authorization, license, or invitation, willfully enters or remains upon a property other than a building or conveyance – such as land. Therefore, trespass on a property other than structure or conveyance would be the applicable law in a situation where someone enters onto the property of another to ding dong ditch their home. The statute specifically states:

A person who, without being authorized, licenses, or invited, willfully enters upon or remains in any property other than a structure or conveyance:

As to which notice against entering or remaining is given, either by actual communication to the offender or by posting, fencing, or cultivation.

If the property is the unenclosed curtilage of a dwelling and the offender enters or remains with the intent to commit an offense thereon, other than the offense of trespass, commits the offense of trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance.

Violation of this statute is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, and one year of probation. Therefore, the first time someone is caught in the act of ding dong ditching, they will receive a warning. If they are caught a second time, they will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.

Ding dong ditching can also result in a disorderly conduct charge, which is also referred to as breaching or disturbing the peace. Under  Section 877.03 of the Florida Statutes:

Whoever commits such acts as are of a nature to corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them, or engages in brawling or fighting, or engages in such conduct as to constitute a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a second degree.

A second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation, and a $500 fine. To read more about the charge, what must be proven to support a disorderly conduct conviction, and the applicable defenses, visit our blog here.