Linda Brown, 45, has been given a novel criminal charge. Brown entered a store and announced that she had won the lottery for $1.5 million and was going to pay for a shopping spree for everyone in the store. The result was pandemonium and a charge of aggravated menacing.
Brown reportedly arrived in a Hummer stretch limousine and actually charged several thousand dollars on her debit card before apparently reaching the card’s limit. Some witnesses said that she offered $500 for anyone in the store. That led to a rush on the store.
Police say that she induced a riot. Her payment of thousands of dollars on her credit card makes this particularly interesting. She lied about the lottery but did buy the first round of purchases. If she did win the lottery, would she still have been criminally charged for the panic if she was able to pay?
Stores are civilly liable for special sales or events that cause foreseeable injuries or deaths. However, this is a criminal charge for promising to pay for shoppers. Usually aggravated menacing is confined to different conduct. Here is the Ohio provision:
§ 2903.21. Aggravated menacing.
(A) No person shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause serious physical harm to the person or property of the other person, the other person’s unborn, or a member of the other person’s immediate family.
(B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of aggravated menacing. Except as otherwise provided in this division, aggravated menacing is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the victim of the offense is an officer or employee of a public children services agency or a private child placing agency and the offense relates to the officer’s or employee’s performance or anticipated performance of official responsibilities or duties, aggravated menacing is a felony of the fifth degree or, if the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to an offense of violence, the victim of that prior offense was an officer or employee of a public children services agency or private child placing agency, and that prior offense related to the officer’s or employee’s performance or anticipated performance of official responsibilities or duties, a felony of the fourth degree.
HISTORY: 134 v H 511 (Eff 1-1-74); 146 v S 239 (Eff 9-6-96); 148 v H 412. Eff 4-10-2001.
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