Seattle recently bore witness to one of those most bizarre events in the city's recent history. This week, a local man found his way up to the top of the tree in downtown Seattle, which is used as the city's Christmas tree. The man was up in the tree for over 24 hours and was met with all forms of emergency responders. Police negotiators were working with the man to get him out of the tree. To avoid injury to the man himself, or any bystanders watching the events unfold, police and firefighters relied only on negotiations with the man to prevent him from hurting himself or other people. While occupying the tree, the man was reported to not only have thrown branches, pinecones, and even an apple at responders and bystanders, but also to even have made a nest for himself high up in the treetop. After 24 hours had passed, the man finally came down from the tree with the help of the emergency responders.
Officers have not yet decided on whether or not to press charges, and throughout the duration of the man's time in the tree, were reported to have said they were not considering charges at this time, and were more concerned with ensuring the safety of both the man in the tree, and the surrounding bystanders than pursuing criminal charges. Though the police did not give an official statement, they did allege the possibility that the man may have needed some assistance with his mental health, and may not have been in the right state of mind when he chose to climb the tree. Now that the man is down from the tree and safe, if he were to be charged with a crime, it may fall under "Malicious Mischief."
There are 3 varying degrees of the crime of malicious mischief. The degree most likely applicable to this situation is malicious mischief in the second degree, defined in RCW 9A.48.080:
"(1) A person is guilty of malicious mischief in the second degree if he or she knowingly and maliciously:
(a) Causes physical damage to the property of another in an amount exceeding seven hundred fifty dollars; or
(b) Creates a substantial risk of interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public, by physically damaging or tampering with an emergency vehicle or property of the state, a political subdivision thereof, or a public utility or mode of public transportation, power, or communication."
Malicious mischief in the second degree is a class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. If the damage to the tree were to exceed $5,000 then he could possibly face charges of malicious mischief in the first degree, which is a class B felony, which is punishable by up to a shocking 10 years in prison and fines up to $20,000.
Luckily for the tree climber, it does not seem likely that he will face charges because police believe he was not in the right mental state when the act was committed.
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