Is It Illegal to Wear a Mask on Halloween?
Halloween is just around the corner, which means putting on a costume and heading out for a party. Part of your chosen outfit might include a mask, but you might have heard about a Florida statute that bans people from wearing an item that covers their face in public. You might wonder: Does this law pertain to Halloween costumes? The short answer is “no,” but let’s dive a little further in to understand that law and potential charges and consequences about wearing masks.
What Are the Anti-Mask Laws?
Where does the misconception come from that it’s illegal to wear a mask in public on Halloween?
There are 4 separate Florida statutes that prohibit a person from wearing a covering to hide their face or conceal their identity:
- 876.12: Makes it illegal for a person over 16 years of age to wear a mask or hood on a public lawn, walk, alley, street, road, or highway
- 876.13: Prohibits anyone from wearing a mask or hood to enter into or onto public property
- 876.14: States that it is unlawful for someone over 16 years of age to conceal their face or identity with a mask or hood and demand entrance into another person’s private property
- 876.15: Bars anyone over 16 years of age from wearing a mask or hood while holding a meeting or demonstration on private property without first having received written permission from the owner to do so
When Do These Laws Apply?
Reading the above-mentioned laws on their own, it might appear that wearing a mask on Halloween is prohibited. However, Florida Statute 876.155 clears up when the provisions of these laws apply.
According to statute 876.155, 876.12 through 876.16 are applicable when the person wearing the mask or hood intended to:
- Deprive another person of their legal rights
- Injure or intimidate someone else
- Intimidate, threaten, abuse, or harass another
- Engage in criminal conduct and avoid identification
Therefore, unless your intent with your Halloween mask was to participate in behavior prohibited by statute 876.155, it is not illegal to wear such a costume.
What Happens if Someone Commits a Crime While Wearing a Mask?
If a person does engage in criminal behavior, and they covered their face to conceal their identity, the classification of the alleged crime increases. Florida Statute 775.0845 states that if a person commits an offense (other than one listed in statutes 876.12 through 876.15) while wearing a mask or hood, they will be charged with the next higher degree.
What that means is:
- A second-degree misdemeanor becomes a first-degree
- A first-degree misdemeanor is reclassified to a third-degree felony
- A third-degree felony is increased to a second-degree felony
- A second-degree felony becomes a first-degree felony
Discuss Your Case with Albaugh Law Firm
Crimes might increase on Halloween night because many people are wearing costumes that hide their identity. That also means you could be charged for a crime in a case of mistaken identity. If you are facing criminal allegations in St. Augustine, reach out to our skilled attorneys today. We will fight hard to protect your rights and work toward a favorable outcome on your behalf.