If you've been slapped with criminal charges related to a prank you pulled on someone, you may be first stunned that it was possible, and then worried about what will happen to you. The prank may have been meant to shock people and get a laugh at one point, but if it resulted in police becoming involved or others being terrified, it can end up with you being charged. Defending against the charges involves looking at your role and whether or not the prank got out of hand.
The Mastermind or Willing Participant
If you decided to tell someone you had been injured and badly needed help as a prank, just to get a rise out of them, or if you were a willing participant in a scheme like that, you will have a tougher time defending against charges. If you were the one who planned a prank that resulted in police being called, others being alarmed, and other resources wasted on the call, then you basically set up a situation that involved making a false report, disturbing the peace, and possibly malicious mischief. In your case, you may want to try getting the charges reduced or making a plea bargain that keeps you out of jail.
If you were a part of the prank but thought it was real -- in other words, you were a bystander who was affected by the prank -- you might have been the one to call police. Technically, calling the police and making a report that turns out not to be true would get you charges of filing a false report. Many good cops recognize situations like these and don't charge those who truly thought police needed to be called. But if the worst has happened and you've been charged, don't give up hope. If you can prove that you were the victim of the prank and had called police in good faith (because you honestly thought the prank situation was real), then you could get the charges dropped.
What These Pranks Do
The reason these pranks are seen as so bad is that they sow unnecessary terror and tie up police and emergency resources. For example, in 2014, a South Carolina woman called her daughter and claimed a shooter was at her workplace. The daughter called the police in a panic, but then found out her mother was doing this as a prank. The daughter was not charged, but the mother was. The prank caused someone to enter a state of alarm that was not appropriate and not necessary, and it tied up an emergency operator.
Contact a criminal defense attorney if you've been charged because of a prank. Your situation could be difficult to deal with, but an attorney like Abom & Kutulakis LLP will do what they can to find a solution.