When my son was younger, he liked to go to a local Chuck E. Cheese restaurant for birthday parties. For those of the uninitiated, this is a child-oriented restaurant that has a game area and specializes in pizza. Every so often, a giant mouse in casual clothing (Chuck is a mouse…or rat, I have not decided) appears to sing and entertain a bit. Obviously, it is a person inside a big costume. The charade used to scare my son. I took that in stride. There was no physical contact. Today, the Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog explores a different family experience.
Same rat, though. Or mouse…
The non-animated cheese-related adventure ended in New Bedford on Monday. As a result, a gentleman from Fairhaven has been sentenced to pay a $500 fine after pleading guilty to assaulting a Chuck E. Cheese costumed mascot last year in Dartmouth.
Trahan P., 34, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) ripped the mascot’s headwear off, pointed a finger at the man underneath the costume, and yelled at him because he thought the mascot had picked up his son and pinned him against a video game, court records said.
The incident occurred in May 2008 during a birthday party for the Defendant’s 11-year-old son at the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in the Dartmouth Towne Center. During the party, the boy ran to his relatives crying, saying that “Chuck” the mascot had picked him up by the arms, pinned him against a game and ordered the boy to leave him alone, according to court records.
Jessie C., 19, (hereinafter “Inner Chuck”) who was dressed as the mascot, told police that while he was walking through the gaming area, a group of youths jumped on him, tried to knock him over and remove his costume. He said he put his arms forward to move the youths away from him, but never grabbed any of them.
Inner Chuck was charged with Massachusetts assault and battery but was acquitted Jan. 12 after a jury trial in New Bedford District Court.
A woman who was present in the restaurant said she saw Inner Chuck telling the youths to stop, but said he never grabbed any of them. She added that she saw Inner Chuck accidentally bump the Defendant’s son while turning around, according to court records.
Apparently, The boy did not have any visible injuries and resumed playing with his friends after police interviewed him at the restaurant, court records said.
Meanwhile, prosecutors had requested that the Defendant – who was also charged with assault and battery – serve six months in jail and attend anger management classes.
Judge John M. Julian ordered the Defendant to pay a fine instead.
Whether or not the Defendant had a prior record remains unknown to me. However, if there is no such record, requesting jail time for this admittedly huge over-reaction seems a bit harsh under the circumstances. In any event, he has now has a criminal conviction on his record.
And that is the first message of today’s posting.
Prosecutors do not always view cases the way the rest of us do. There are office policies involved as well as personal perspectives. Prosecutors, after all, are human too. Take it from a former one of them.
This case was clearly taken very seriously by the Commonwealth. It started with the police apparently bringing charges against both the Defendant and Inner Chuck. The case against the latter actually went to trial. This indicates that, despite the lack of injuries to the Defendant’s son as well as the witness’ testimony and a likely self-defense argument, the prosecutor would not agree to an acceptable result with Inner Chuck.
Similarly, the prosecutor sought jail time for the Defendant who, it is seems undisputed, was reacting to a belief that his son had been assaulted. It is worth noting that Inner Chuck was also not injured.
Battery involves an offensive touching-injuries are not necessary. Assault is the threat of that touching. The Defendant could not claim self-defense, because his son was no longer being assaulted.
The message of today’s daily blog is two-fold.
First, when faced with an upsetting situation as the Defendant was, we have to control our temper. Complain to the management. Boycott Chuck’s haven. But do not physically go after the big mouse. What some of us might feel is an expected over-reaction is still an over-reaction and in cases such as this, a crime.
Police arrest for crimes; prosecutors bring them to trial.
The Massachusetts General Laws allow for jail time for assault and battery. The bottom line is that if you find yourself either under investigation or arrested for charges that you feel are “making mountains out of molehills”, do not assume that the prosecutor, or even the judge, are going to see it the same way. Take it seriously and get experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.
The Defendant in this case certainly did not escape the Criminal Justice System unscathed. He may not have gone to jail..but he did have to plead guilty to a criminal offense.
NOTE: WE REGRET THAT, YESTERDAY, DUE TO WEATHER-RELATED INTERNET ISSUES, THERE WAS NO POSTING ON THIS OTHERWISE DAILY BLOG.
The full article of this story can be found at http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090302/NEWS/90302010/-1/TOWN1001