Starbucks Employee Criminally Charged For Spitting Into Coffee Of Police Officer

download-4Kevin Trejo, 21, of Westwood, New Jersey has been arrested for the disgusting alleged act of spitting into the coffee of a police officer at Starbucks.  What is interesting is the array of the charges fired against the now former barista.  In an interview on Fox, Park Ridge, New Jersey Lt. James Babcock  said that they confirmed that the act occurred and that they were told that Trejo had done it repeatedly with officers. Babcock said that Trejo claimed to have only done it once.

Presumably, someone spotted the act given the open preparation area of Starbucks.

According to the police press release, the police hit Trejo with three charges for subjecting a law enforcement officer to bodily fluid, purposely tampering with a law enforcement officer’s drink and creating a hazardous environment.  Those charges seem completely overlapping in charging the same act three times.

The tampering charge is relatively straight forward.

2C:40-17  Tampering, degree of offense; sentencing requirements.

2. a. Except as provided in subsection b. of this section, a person who knowingly tampers with a cosmetic, drug or food product is guilty of a crime of the third degree, except that nothing herein shall be deemed to preclude a charge for a greater crime under any other provision of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.

Then however they hit him with another charge for the same act by treating his spitting as “throwing bodily fluids.”

2C:12-13 Throwing bodily fluid at certain law enforcement officers deemed aggravated assault; grading, sentence.

2.A person who throws a bodily fluid at a Department of Corrections employee, county corrections officer, juvenile corrections officer, State juvenile facility employee, juvenile detention staff member, probation officer, any sheriff, undersheriff or sheriff’s officer or any municipal, county or State law enforcement officer while in the performance of his duties or otherwise purposely subjects such employee to contact with a bodily fluid commits an aggravated assault. If the victim suffers bodily injury, this shall be a crime of the third degree. Otherwise, this shall be a crime of the fourth degree. A term of imprisonment imposed for this offense shall run consecutively to any term of imprisonment currently being served and to any other term imposed for another offense committed at the time of the assault. Nothing herein shall be deemed to preclude, if the evidence so warrants, an indictment and conviction for a violation or attempted violation of chapter 11 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes or subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:12-1 or any other provision of the criminal laws.

L.1997,c.182,s.2; amended 1999, c.429; 2003, c.283.

That would seem a double tap but still defensible. However, then they reframed the act a third time as the creation of the hazardous environment charge was brought under 2C:33-2:

2C:33-2.  Disorderly conduct
a.  Improper behavior.    A person is guilty of a petty disorderly persons  offense, if with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or  recklessly creating a risk thereof he

(1) Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior;  or

(2) Creates a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.

“Public”  means affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access;  among the places included are highways, transport facilities, schools, prisons, apartment houses, places of business or amusement, or any neighborhood.

I admit I tend to view such cases from the perspective of a criminal defense attorney.I have no sympathy for Trejo if he committed this act and Starbucks appears to believe that he did.  However, the charges are an example of how prosecutors can count stack by reframing the same act in a myriad of different ways.  Spitting was tampering and then throwing fluids and then creating hazards.

This is obviously a barista that the police desperately wants behind bars.