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Gallon smashing: The next big craze or juvenile crime?

It may be a far cry from more serious charges that a juvenile can face such as being a minor in possession of alcohol, or underage drinking and driving, but it appears to be something worth taking note of. And it apparently got its start in Virginia.

It's called "Gallon Smashing," and it's starting to pop up in homemade videos on the Internet, much to the consternation of business operators and law enforcement officials. What the videos feature are teenagers carrying gallon beverage jugs in the aisles of stores. As they walk, they make like they are taking a tumble.

The jugs are launched into the air and the result is a massive liquid mess. The event also tends to trigger concerned reaction and assistance from store employees and other shoppers who don't know it's all fake.

Three Vienna, Virginia, teenagers are credited with posting the first such video back in 2011. One managed to attract 3 million hits in a week. The young men insist it was all in fun, though they admit now that perhaps it went a little too far.

The three apparently were never charged with a crime because of the videos, but others haven't been so lucky. In one case out of Utah, ten juveniles were charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly copying the gallon smashing routine. Police in New Jersey brought criminal mischief charges against three teenagers after gallon smashing incidents in several pharmacies.

Some legal experts say the fact that the apparent malicious intent behind the smashings, and the fact that they can cause hundreds of dollars worth of damage and create unsafe environments for others make criminal charges justified. And as copy cats pick up on the trend, it's likely that more juveniles will find themselves needing the help of legal counsel.

Sources: ABC News, "'Gallon Smashing' Prank Videos a Hit but Raise Legal Concerns," John Muller, Feb. 28, 2013; NBC 10 Philadelphia, "3 Teens Arrested in 'Gallon Smashing' Incident," David Chang, March 22, 2013

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