Fish Felony: Florida Girlfriend Charged After Pouring Bleach Into Boyfriend’s Fish Tank Killing Goldfish

angelagarcia2Angela Garcia, 32, was arrested Saturday for, among other things, killing her boyfriend’s goldfish by pouring bleach into their tank. She also trashed boyfriend Norris Johnson’s Orlando-area apartment. What is interesting is the level of the charge.

Norris had an argument with Garcia and told her to move out of the apartment. Police say that she proceeded to destroy his flat screen TV, other electronic devices, and furniture — causing some $1500 in damage. She then allegedly poured bleach into her boyfriend’s fish tank, killing five goldfish.

200px-Goldfish3She is now charged with felony counts of animal cruelty and criminal mischief. The felony on the fish is a higher than usual charge. However, these are pets and the act was allegedly intentional. It is interesting that we would not find this as notable if she poured the bleach down the throat of a dog or cat. Fish are often treated differently, but there is no real reason for the distinction. However, if this is a felony, then doesn’t that mean that goldfish swallowing at colleges is now a felony?

What do you think?

16 thoughts on “Fish Felony: Florida Girlfriend Charged After Pouring Bleach Into Boyfriend’s Fish Tank Killing Goldfish”

  1. Darren

    Do you think that the prosecutor may have raised this to a felony because the killing of the fish was committed in conjunction with the felony destruction of property? On a separate note, these were pets, after all. She didn’t kill them to have them for dinner. She killed them to inflict pain on her boyfriend. What if she poisoned the boyfriend’s cat or dog? Is there anymore scientific evidence about how much pain or suffering that they experience, as opposed to fish? These were living beings, belonging to another, and I don’t think a bleach expert will be required to convince the jurors that the introduction of bleach was the proximate cause of the dead fish.

    There is, however, some evidence that individuals who kill and/or torture animals, for sport, are to viewed as a danger to human beings, as well.

    1. Bam Bam

      The animal cruelty charge was made by the officer who completed the report. I am not intimately familiar with this state’s criminal procedure but in my state felony charges need to be filed by a prosecutor formally. A police officer’s charge is an Arrest Charge and subject to the discretion of the prosecutor.

      The intentional infliction of pain or suffering is an essential element of an animal cruelty charge. With regard to actual cases involving say dogs and cats, the state can articulate pain and suffering based upon previous experience with both former cases, observed suffering, and testimony from vets and experts in animal husbandry. With fish this is going to be difficult, if not nearly impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. It regards to whether or not a fish can experience pain and suffering as a result of bleach ingestion and this must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden is upon the state to prove this.

      The statute charged, under the definitions clause, refers to jurisdiction to include, strangely it seems, “dumb animals” or something to that effect if memory serves me correctly. But insects would be included in such definition. The common law is going to probably need to address at what order of animal the statute is applicable.

      From a practical standpoint the “fish felony” is not worth pursuing. If convicted on this I see an appeal possible on the Animal Cruelty on the basis such as I have suggested and others likely. It is the kind of matter that often results in case law that is unfavorable to the prosecution, which from the state’s point of view is often referred to as “bad case law”.

    2. bam bam – well, she killed the flat screen to torture the bf and she killed the gold fish to torture the bf. What I am trying to see is how they are going to prove a cruel and unusual death for the gold fish. Who is an expert in the pain levels, if any, of the gold fish?

  2. The state is going to have a difficult time proving the elements of the felony animal cruelty. I don’t see how it can articulate any scientific reference that bleach causes pain and suffering of the fish, or at what concentration was the bleach within the bowl and whether or not the concentration resulted in instant death or prolonged suffering.

    Moreover, the prosecutor was so bold and ill advised to bring this fish felony to trial I can easily envision a jury nullification of all charges because, frankly, the jurors would not be, shall we say, pleased with the prosecutor’s zeal.

  3. @Don the Drain

    Ouch!!! I’m not carping at you, but scale the puns back, m’kay??? This twisted b*tch ought to get 5 years in the slammer for killing innocent little animals. But, she does provide material for an Irish Poem. . .

    Carp Die’m???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    There once was an unstable gal,
    Who went on a rampage, and how!
    She broke every dish
    And then killed his fish
    ‘Cause he loved them more than this sow.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  4. She sounds unstable and we’re getting a glimpse of why he thought the relationship was not working out.

    The dilemma of how to treat pets who can also be considered food comes up frequently in livestock abuse. Technically, gold fish are a species of carp, which are supposed to taste terrible, but “fish” in general can be considered food as well as a pet.

    When goats, pigs, chickens, or cows get mutilated or killed, there are similar debates about what the punishment should be, since livestock can be either food or a pet. You can raise a pig to be as tame as a dog, and they’re comparably smart. They just also like to wallow and dig up your garden. But they’ll come when you call them and trot happily after you. If someone kills a pig that you’ve made a pet, ofttimes the penalty is lighter than you would want. (On the other hand, if you do NOT tame a pig, then there is a reason for that phrase, “I ain’t had so much fun since the pig ate my little brother.”) One of my hens was like a Golden Retriever. She would follow us around, play with my son, climb all over you the moment you sat down outside, fall asleep in your lap, and ask to be picked up. She was “just a chicken” but she was still a beloved pet.

    Here in CA, animal abusers seem to get off light.

    Professor Turley brings up a good point, however, about this conflict between fish as pets and food with the disgusting frat practice of swallowing live goldfish. Making that a felony seems extreme.

  5. Boy, howdy, I would want a jury trial on the goldfish bleach thingie. Animal cruelty? They are going to have to put some real experts on the stand. I did not think you could be cruel to goldfish.

  6. I think she looks like the green alien Captain Kirk was banging on Star Trek.

  7. I wonder why there is no mention of a felony for the destruction of property regarding the tv, furniture, etc.? Maybe, just maybe, the killing of the fish rose to the level of a felony because it occurred during/in conjunction with the commission of another felony, which then elevated its severity? Also, the dollar value of the fish is not mentioned. Could the value of the fish, which may have been some pricey and rare type of goldfish, help establish this as a felony? In general, doesn’t the dollar value of the item determine whether its theft or destruction constitutes a felony?

  8. There is something fishy about the charges. I wonder how the scales of justice apply here. No doubt the defendant will spend time in the tank

  9. Isn’t L. Ron Hubbard supposed to be coming back as a goldfish? Or maybe that was one of the other profits. In any event, ya gots to be careful of what you kill, one man’s Friday meal might be another’s best friend. This could be a great SNL courtroom skit, with the fish owner’s lawyer summing up to the teary eyed jury.

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