§61-2-10b. Malicious assault; unlawful assault; battery and recidivism of battery; assault on police officers, conservation officers, probation officers, humane officers, emergency medical service personnel, firefighters, fire marshal, Division of Forestry employees and county or state correctional employees; penalties.
Probably the longest link I’ve entered to date and hopefully will ever create in the future is actually the title of a statute written in West Virginia. I learned about this story from a friend of mine who called and mentioned it in his daily news digest, then with a quick gander online, I found the story.
A man who was arrested for Driving while Intoxicated was also filed on for a misdemeaner where he faces jail time for allegedly passing gas in an officer’s direction. So he was flatulent, so he allegedly fanned it in the officer’s direction… even given those behaviors, does it justify putting him in jail?
Below is the portion of the statute that governs this charge:
(c) Battery. — Any person who unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with a police officer, probation officer, conservation officer, humane officer, emergency medical service personnel, firefighter, State Fire Marshal or employee, Division of Forestry employee, county correctional employee, state correctional employee, employee of a mass transportation system or Public Service Commission motor carrier inspector acting in his or her official capacity, or unlawfully and intentionally causes physical harm to a police officer, probation officer, conservation officer, humane officer, emergency medical service personnel, firefighter, State Fire Marshal or employee, Division of Forestry employee, county correctional employee, state correctional employee, employee of an urban mass transportation system or a Public Service Commission motor carrier inspector acting in such capacity, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be confined in jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months, fined the sum of five hundred dollars, or both.
What’s the physical harm? Discomfort to the olfactory cells of the officer’s nose? As a former officer, myself, I have smelled odors that I’d rather forget, but I would never even attempt to file a charge like this against an individual. I believe when officers take actions like this, although they may have what they believe is "probable cause" to justify their action(s), they lose credibility. Reputation in law enforcement is critical, as it is in any field… but this is just a classic case of "piling on charges" or heeping up the amount of accusations that the accused must resolve… I know in some places, the strategy is to file more so the person "must" plead to something … as the risk becomes too great not to take a plea and have the other charges dismissed.
The best way to handle this, take note of the alleged action as "evidence of intoxication"… afterall, what sober and sane person would willingly fart and fan toward another adult?
Here’s to hoping this charge is dismissed promptly.