18 year old Bradenton, Florida man Charles Ross was arrested on Sunday in Manatee County, Florida on battery allegations for allegedly giving numerous movie goers “wedgies.” Allegedly Ross owns and operates a You Tube page where he posts video of himself performing pranks on random strangers. From this report, Ross’ MO is to have a friend video him in public arenas approaching random people or their property and taking action that isn’t necessarily considered to be accepted in the public eye. In this particular situation Manatee County deputies report that Ross would walk up behind a person and grab the back of their pants and then pull them up high, causing pain or discomfort, all while videotaping the encounter. Clearly, the glaring difference between this prank and prior pranks is the visit to the Manatee County Jail.
At first blush Ross’ actions appear to be harmless pranks pulled by an immature kid seeking attention and some form of minor fame via You Tube. When considered and reviewed by a Tampa criminal attorney it appears the Manatee County authorities and Ross’ victims felt this harmless prank may have borne some harm, thereby leading to battery charges. A battery charge in Florida is codified under Florida Statute 784.03. To sustain a charge for simple battery against Ross, the Manatee County State Attorney’s Office must prove that Ross actually and intentionally touched another person against their will OR that Ross intentionally caused harm to another person. Assuming Ross has no prior record he would be looking at a first degree misdemeanor count for every person he blessed with a wedgie, each count punishable by up to 11 months, 29 days in the Manatee County Jail and a $1,000 fine payable to the great State of Florida. I believe it would be difficult to find a Tampa criminal attorney who would say with a straight face that Ross really intended to hurt anyone. With that consideration, the Manatee State Attorney’s Office would have to pursue this case under the theory that Ross intentionally touched each victim against their will. Considering the likelihood of numerous witnesses coming forward and video evidence of the alleged crimes, should the State pursue these charges it appears the case is open and shut in favor of the State.
Generally in battery situations there is at least the possibility of the criminal defense attorney mounting a self defense argument. Because of the odd nature of this battery, this Tampa criminal lawyer would rule that defense out in a heartbeat. Conversely, the alleged victims in this case could very likely have used physical force to defend themselves and they would have been within their legal rights to do so. Realistically, if these allegations are charged in a criminal court without the option of a pretrial diversion program the only chance for Ross in trial is that a jury simply feels the charges are so ridiculous that they acquit him and punish the State for wasting tax dollars by bringing the charges. This jury nullification chance is too risky as his only defense to pursue.
Charles Ross will very likely face these criminal charges. The Manatee County State Attorney’s Office likely has enough evidence to proceed and due to this case meriting media coverage they now have a bit of political pressure to move forward. Despite the pranks being goofy, in all reality no one was harmed and because of that Ross will likely get a minor sentence or pretrial diversion.
Jason Mayberry is a Tampa criminal attorney practicing in Tampa Bay area State and Federal Courts. Our firm is available for your needs from 9AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday at 813-444-7435 or at 727-771-3847.