Like many of you, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have become inundated with stories about the unintended consequences of Pokémoning on the go. Often times, these stories are followed up with comments like “that’s illegal” or “he/she is going to get arrested.” As a lawyer and a level 12 trainer, I was academically intrigued with the costs of high risk Pokémon behavior. As a disclaimer, nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice or counseling, and above all else, nothing, even catching a legendary Pokémon, is worth the risk of breaking the law or putting others in danger. To this end, the sole purpose of this article is to help the New Jersey Pokémon community identify some situations where trainers should not be trying to catch them all.
The PokéCoin to Fine Exchange Rate
As part of our analysis, the following table provides an exchange rate of real world fines for Pokémon items. For convenience, this chart utilizes the PokéStore’s maximum purchase levels for each item and rounds the $99.99 exchange for 14,500 PokéCoin exchange rate up to $100.00 per 14,500 PokéCoins.
Driving While Pokémoning
Most people understand that driving while under the influence is a misdemeanor (known in New Jersey as a “disorderly person offense”), and in some instances, could lead to felony charges (known in New Jersey as a “crime”). In most instances, the following schedule outlines the legal consequences for these categories:
1. Petty misdemeanor: A maximum fine of $500.00 and maximum jail time of 30 days.
2. Misdemeanor: A maximum fine of $1,000.00 and maximum jail time of 6 months.
3. Felony: Fines ranging from $10,000.00 to $200,000.00 and jail time of over 6 months.
Trespass while Pokémoning
Under New Jersey law, criminal trespass occurs if an individual, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given. Such notice can take the form of actual communication, posting signs or fencing/enclosing property. Trespassing is considered a petty disorderly crime in New Jersey, which, as a reminder, can result in a maximum fine of $500.00 and/or a maximum jail sentence of 30 days.
Along with any violations of law, negligently causing harm while playing Pokémon GO can also cause trainers to face civil liability. Generally, negligence is defined as failing to act as a reasonable person. If the actions of an individual fall below the standard level of care that an ordinary person would have used, this would be considered negligent. In New Jersey, liability for this type of harm is governed by the theory of contributory negligence, that is, the allocation of fault of the individual claiming to be harmed must be less than the fault attributed to the wrongdoers’ negligence in order to collect damages.