Holiday Ham Gone Wrong

The holiday season can be rough. If your December has been less than ideal, you can at least be thankful that you’re not David Brannon, the Kentucky man who’s earned online infamy after finding a new way to ruin Christmas. In what’s been reported as a dispute over the timing of the family’s Yuletide meal, Brannon’s holiday stress is said to have gotten the better of him. His voice no longer adequate to convey the intensity of his feelings, Brannon allegedly threw a number of objects—including the family’s intended Christmas ham—at an unnamed female victim. When law enforcement arrived, Brannon tried unsuccessfully to flee, and he’s now facing charges of assault and evading police.

If this had happened in Indiana, things would’ve played out a little differently. Believe it or not, you can’t be charged with assault in this state. That’s not to say that Hoosiers are encouraged to throw meat at each other—it simply means that this same behavior in Indiana would earn you a different set of criminal charges. If Brannon’s alleged temper tantrum had taken place here, he’d likely be facing counts of either criminal recklessness or battery, depending on the facts.

If none of the thrown items actually made contact with the alleged victim, Brannon would likely be charged with criminal recklessness, which happens whenever someone “recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally performs an act that creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person.” This offense starts as a Class B misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail. If the prosecutor were to determine that the Christmas ham (or any of the other objects in question) constituted a deadly weapon, criminal recklessness could be charged as a Level 6 felony, punishable by as many as two-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

If, on the other hand, any of the flying objects did find their allegedly intended target, Brannon could be charged with battery, which occurs when someone “knowingly or intentionally touches another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner.” Like criminal recklessness, this charge starts as a Class B misdemeanor, but if your battery results in bodily injury to any other person, it can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and 365 days in jail. Battery can also be charged as a Level 6 felony pursuant to aggravating factors (e.g. battering a minor or a public safety official; causing moderate bodily injury). Also keep in mind that Brannon’s altercation began as a family dispute. Battery of a family or household member constitutes domestic battery, which starts as a Class A misdemeanor. Domestic battery is also a crime of domestic violence, which opens a whole other can of worms for the accused. Things can always get worse.

Speaking of making things worse, one surefire way to exacerbate your troubles is to run from the police. In Indiana, this is called resisting law enforcement, and it really isn’t worth it. Even if you’re certain that you have nothing to say to the police, that’s no reason to invite an additional criminal charge into your life. You have the right to remain silent, and Attorney Marc Lopez will never stop encouraging people to exercise their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

Is there a moral here? I count at least three:

  1. Whenever possible, don’t let disagreements turn into full-blown fights.
  2. Throwing food in anger is always a questionable strategy.
  3. Running from the police never lands you in a place you want to be.

If you can feel stress taking you down a dangerous path, try your best to keep it together, and if you can’t, remember that the Marc Lopez Law Firm offers free consultations. Give us a call at 317-632-3642.