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Criminal defense may exist for accused who threw his salad

Some people save their rage for the wrong things. That would have to be true about a Pennsylvania man who must present a criminal defense to charges arising from an alleged outburst recently in a Wendy's restaurant. Police say that, after complaining that there were not enough cucumbers in his salad, he threw his food at an employee and made a threat.

The accused allegedly cursed at the worker, and threatened that the worker would be the "first to go" if the man had had "a gun or knife." All for the love of cucumbers, or so the events have been reported by the authorities. The incident occurred at the Wendy's in New Holland where the responding police found the 58-year-old man in his vehicle with the windows rolled up.

He reportedly pulled down his window but tried to drive away when the officer attempted to reach inside the car. Why the officer would attempt to reach inside is an open, puzzling question that may eventually be answered. The accused remains in prison on charges of aggravated assault against both the employee and the police officer, terroristic threats and other unspecified charges.

In Pennsylvania, aggravated assault, a felony, includes the intentional, knowing or reckless attempt to inflict, or the infliction of, serious bodily injury on another. If one's actions are likely to cause serious injury or death, that could establish enough for a conviction. Depending on the facts, it nonetheless appears that throwing one's salad is not sufficiently dangerous or likely to cause serious injury or death. Regarding the officer, the facts are not clear enough to analyze the strength of the charge. 

No one was apparently reported injured. Terroristic threats involve generally the commission of any crime of violence with the intent to terrorize another. Criminal defense counsel will focus on the defendant's state of mind to try and show that it was more one of mental disturbance rather than the intent to inflict harm on others. The success of the defense will depend on the factual details, which will be revealed further as the case proceeds through the Pennsylvania criminal justice system.  

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Cops: Rant About Salad With Too-Few Cucumbers Ends in Arrest", Aug. 4, 2017

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