People across the country were livid earlier this month when a video depicting a woman licking a carton of ice cream and putting it back on the shelf went viral. Since then, she was arrested, but that hasn’t stopped others from copying her behavior and posting their videos online. San Diego juvenile lawyer Peter M. Liss warns that this prank isn’t just gross, it can also result in serious criminal charges.
Potential Penalties for Ice Cream Licking
In California, spitting in someone’s food is considered simple battery, which is punishable by up to six months in jail. If you were sick though, which the girl in the video claims to be, and you passed your disease on to someone else though, you could face felony charges punishable by up to four years in prison.
Spitting in someone’s food while sick could also be considered food tampering, which involves willfully adding poison or other harmful substance to a food, drink or medical product that could cause injury to someone else. Food tampering is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, but if it causes great bodily injury, you could be sentenced to up to eight years instead.
Because she knew she was sick, the woman in the video could also face charges related to willingly exposing someone to an infectious disease, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.
Finally, because the ice cream belonged to the grocery store and should be considered damaged by the licking, this crime could also be considered criminal mischief, which is the legal name for vandalism. This misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to one year in jail.
Defenses to These Charges
It’s worth knowing that the woman in the original ice cream licking video was in Texas, so the charges and penalties above would not apply to her. If someone in California copied her though, they would absolutely need a top San Diego food tampering attorney to help them fight the charges and the potential punishments, which could include up to seven years behind bars.
The good news though is that even if you faced all of the above charges, there is a good chance your San Diego battery defense lawyer could help you fight the charges. To start with, the girl in the video was a juvenile and it’s likely most people copying her would be as well, which can be a good thing, as the juvenile courts aim to reform more than they work to punish. Even adults could fight the charges though.
The easiest defense would be to prove that despite publishing a video that shows you putting the product back on the shelf, you actually paid for it. In fact, one person who was arrested after recording a copycat video was actually freed shortly after providing his receipt for the ice cream to the police. There’s no crime against licking your own ice cream, after all.
While it wouldn’t stop all the charges, arguing that you were not actually sick would help you avoid charges related to food tampering and willingly exposing others to infectious diseases. Alternatively, if you knew that freezing temperatures would kill the germs from your disease, you could argue that you knew the sickness could not actually expose others to the disease.
Even if you couldn’t fight all the charges entirely, a top San Diego juvenile defense attorney could help minimize the charges and penalties you may face. If you have been accused of any type of crime related to food safety, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Yun Huang Yong