Joshua James, 23, is charged with one of the most perplexing crimes of the year. James pulled up to a Wendy’s drive-thru window and threw a three and a half foot alligator into the restaurant. His mother told media that it was a prank aimed at a friend who worked at Wendy’s. However, he is now charged with assault with a deadly weapon and illegally capturing an alligator. In addition, because he apparently accepted a soda before tossing the gator, he is charged with petty theft.
Before the NAA (National Alligator Association) objects that alligators don’t kill people, people kill people, the prosecutors are likely to prevail on the alligator as weapon theory. Like many states, Florida defines a deadly weapon broadly as any weapon likely to produce death or great bodily harm. It is enough that an offender has the weapon in his possession and does not generally require that the weapon is used to effectuate the violence or assault.
Having said that, James has really set himself up for a life changing decision. While a prank, the alligator could have harmed employees or customers. One on hand, guys have long put animals — including vicious animals — in dorm rooms, cars, and other spaces as pranks. However, James chose to put others are risk and illegally acquired the animal. While I hate to see a young man go to jail for a stupid prank, my guess is that a court is not likely to cut him too much slack for a joke gone bad.
What do you think should be the appropriate punishment?