Florida man charged with felony for romantic balloon-release gesture on Valentine’s Day

posted at 9:31 pm on February 26, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Meet Anthony Brasfield, charmer and now an alleged felon for his amorous efforts:

Anthony Brasfield saw romance when he released a dozen heart-shaped balloons into the sky over Dania Beach with his sweetie. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper saw a felony.

Brasfield, 40, and his girlfriend, Shaquina Baxter, were in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on Dania Beach Boulevard when he released the shiny red and silver mylar balloons and watched them float away Sunday morning.

Also watching the romantic gesture: an FHP trooper, who instead noted probable cause for an environmental crime.

Brasfield was charged with polluting to harm humans, animals, plants, etc. under the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act.

Here’s hoping Brasfield escapes the possible 5-year imprisonment punishment (or any at all) for this rarely used statute.

Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds, who flagged this story, wrote a paper on overcriminalization recently, and its threat to due process:

Though extensive due process protections apply to the investigation of crimes, and to criminal trials, perhaps the most important part of the criminal process – the decision whether to charge a defendant, and with what – is almost entirely discretionary. Given the plethora of criminal laws and regulations in today’s society, this due process gap allows prosecutors to charge almost anyone they take a deep interest in. This Essay discusses the problem in the context of recent prosecutorial controversies involving the cases of Aaron Swartz and David Gregory, and offers some suggested remedies, along with a call for further discussion.

In other news, Daniel Brewington of Indiana is serving a two-year sentence for writing acidic online commentaries about a local judge:

Daniel Brewington was not happy with the way that Dearborn County, Indiana, Judge James D. Humphrey handled his divorce case, during which he lost custody of his children, and he explained why at length in various strongly worded online commentaries. Largely as a result of those posts, Brewington is serving a two-year sentence at the Putnamville Correctional Facility for intimidation, attempted obstruction of justice, and perjury. The punishment Brewington received for condemning Humphrey’s actions has attracted criticism from a wide range of First Amendment advocates, including UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, conservative lawyer James Bopp, a former executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, the Indiana Association of Scholars, The Indianapolis Star, and the James Madison Center for Free Speech. In an amicus brief filed the week before last, they urge the Indiana Supreme Court to overturn Brewington’s conviction for intimidating Humphrey, arguing that the provision under which he was convicted, as interpreted by a state appeals court, threatens constitutionally protected speech about the official acts of public officials.

The intimidation charge related to Brewington’s comments about Humphrey, which was treated as a felony because it involved a judicial officer, was based on the allegation that he “communicated to another person a threat with the intent that the other person be placed in fear of retaliation for a prior lawful act.” The threat in this case was that Brewington would “expose the person threatened to hatred, contempt, disgrace, or ridicule.” Upholding Brewington’s conviction on this count, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled last month that “the truthfulness of the threatened disclosure is not necessarily relevant to prosecution because the harm, placing a victim in fear, occurs whether the publicized conduct is true or false.” It added that some of Brewington’s statements about Humphrey were demonstrably false. “Over the course of at least a year,” the court said, “Brewington repeatedly called Judge Humphrey a ‘child abuser.’…Brewington also called Judge Humphrey ‘corrupt’…and accused him of engaging in ‘unethical/illegal behavior.’”

For possible solutions to overcriminalization, check out this round-up of links at Volokh Conspiracy, and this from Radley Balko: “The Power of the Prosecutor”

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Mylar…

There is a movie producer in jail for murdering an Ambassador…

Or something like that..

Electrongod on February 26, 2013 at 9:36 PM

Ban mylar balloons! AND ROMANTIC GESTURES!!

Ugly on February 26, 2013 at 9:36 PM

That balloon wouldn’t hunt in Texas.

annoyinglittletwerp on February 26, 2013 at 9:36 PM

Shame for shame, let the man go…

Scrumpy on February 26, 2013 at 9:36 PM

Ban mylar balloons! AND ROMANTIC GESTURES!!

Ugly on February 26, 2013 at 9:36 PM

I would ban marriage gestures on Sports overhead video screens..

Electrongod on February 26, 2013 at 9:38 PM

It’s hard for me to get worked up about this considering that the chief executive can now unilaterally revoke the due process of a US citizen, with not even so much as congressional oversight, and as$assinate you.

crrr6 on February 26, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Shame for shame, let the man go…

Scrumpy on February 26, 2013 at 9:36 PM

Obama is threatening releasing illegal alien ahead of the sequester..

Surely we could let the romantic go?

Electrongod on February 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Stay out of the bedroom!

tom daschle concerned on February 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Clearly this is proof that this man needs to be buried alive so that Mother Earth will have her chance to smother this hideous, anti-Earth bigot.

Stoic Patriot on February 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Hurray…. Finally their is a state on official record as being run by even stupider Marxist douche bags than those here in California.

SWalker on February 26, 2013 at 9:41 PM

I am hoping he gets off with a fine.

CoffeeLover on February 26, 2013 at 9:42 PM

A part of me has no problem arresting this guy..

He is polluting the Obama’s backyard.

It is difficult to see who you are squashing from 30,000 feet when there are shiny balloons blocking the view..

Electrongod on February 26, 2013 at 9:42 PM

’s hard for me to get worked up about this considering that the chief executive can now unilaterally revoke the due process of a US citizen, with not even so much as congressional oversight, and as$assinate you.

crrr6 on February 26, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Maybe the stupid cop should’ve just called in some drones and taken out the balloons mid-flight.

MikeknaJ on February 26, 2013 at 9:43 PM

lol SWalker….

CoffeeLover on February 26, 2013 at 9:43 PM

16 cubic ounces or less of helium..

Electrongod on February 26, 2013 at 9:44 PM

Next week on Meet The Press David Gregory will walk outside and release some balloons just to troll us.

Mark1971 on February 26, 2013 at 9:45 PM

16 cubic ounces or less of helium..

Electrongod on February 26, 2013 at 9:44 PM

Heh. I was just thinking of the light bulb switching on in Bloomberg’s head.

predator on February 26, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Can we tie Chris Matthews to these balloons…

That tingle up his leg will fall to his brain..

Electrongod on February 26, 2013 at 9:46 PM

For possible solutions to overcriminalization, check out this round-up of links at Volokh Conspiracy, and this from Radley Balko: “The Power of the Prosecutor”

…no!…it’s easy!…don’t carry any identification with you…keep saying ‘no comprende…no comprende! when someone in authority talks to you…do swimming motions periodically and say ‘Rio Grande…Rio Grande!’…smile….and they’ll go away and leave you alone!

KOOLAID2 on February 26, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Next week on Meet The Press David Gregory will walk outside and release some balloons just to troll us.

Mark1971 on February 26, 2013 at 9:45 PM

…no…he would put helium in condoms instead…and release those!

KOOLAID2 on February 26, 2013 at 9:49 PM

What’s the name of the cop?

bluegill on February 26, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Heh. Next, one of the proggies will propose a law criminalizing the vendor that sold him the balloons for not doing a background check and forcing him to wait a week for his balloons, and also the supplier of the helium. That’s where the deep pockets are…

bofh on February 26, 2013 at 9:49 PM

The FHP guy would throw the old man from UP in jail for the rest of his life. And the dog too.

SQUIRREL!

MikeknaJ on February 26, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Floria proving again why it has its own Fark tag

tjexcite on February 26, 2013 at 9:51 PM

What’s the name of the cop?

bluegill on February 26, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Patrolman Panfish

KOOLAID2 on February 26, 2013 at 9:52 PM

Am I in Russia now, or what?

petefrt on February 26, 2013 at 9:52 PM

Felonies for a balloon? This is insanity. It’s South Florida, though.

I remember driving home in Tallahassee with my then five-year-old daughter in the car with her birthday balloon. She accidentally let go, and it flew out the window. After comforting her tears, would I also have been faced with felony environmental charges and with endangerment to a minor because I somehow enabled her life of crime?

INC on February 26, 2013 at 9:52 PM

lol SWalker….

CoffeeLover on February 26, 2013 at 9:43 PM

Hey, it’s been a long time since anyone was able to out stupid a California Politician or LEO.

SWalker on February 26, 2013 at 9:53 PM

These balloons cause power outages. You’re not suppose to just let them loose.

Blake on February 26, 2013 at 9:54 PM

These balloons cause power outages. You’re not suppose to just let them loose.

Blake on February 26, 2013 at 9:54 PM

But…but…
The EPA approved of the Universal Connector….

Electrongod on February 26, 2013 at 9:56 PM

If he has the option, he should flee the state and never return. Texas would be a good state. Can you imagine the extradition hearing if Florida actually spent the money to try it?

AZfederalist on February 26, 2013 at 9:57 PM

These balloons cause power outages. You’re not suppose to just let them loose.

Blake on February 26, 2013 at 9:54 PM

Yes. So five years in prison for committing multiple felonies is a great way for the punishment to fit the crime. Cool.

MikeknaJ on February 26, 2013 at 9:58 PM

It looks like nobody posted a link to The Fifth Dimension yet.

listens2glenn on February 26, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Yes. So five years in prison for committing multiple felonies is a great way for the punishment to fit the crime. Cool.

MikeknaJ on February 26, 2013 at 9:58 PM

I have yet to see anything official as to what he was actually charged with – just second hand nonsense. Also, it doesnt matter what the police arrest him for, it is the prosecution who will determine the charges and I assure you it will not be a felony.

Blake on February 26, 2013 at 10:08 PM

I have to wonder if when you buy these balloons if there is not some tag or something warning about releasing them.

Blake on February 26, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Thank goodness they were mylar. If they were rubber, he might have been charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors or, worse, distributing controlled medical devices without a license.

Dusty on February 26, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Felony enviromental charges… O-o
Never heard of that.

wolly4321 on February 26, 2013 at 10:13 PM

These balloons cause power outages. You’re not suppose to just let them loose.

Blake on February 26, 2013 at 9:54 PM

How many 5 year olds are you planning to put in jail.

RickB on February 26, 2013 at 10:21 PM

But… but… but it’s romantic litter! Have you no heart?

Ronnie on February 26, 2013 at 10:26 PM

We need a national registry for these mylar balloons…why are the makers still in business..?/

d1carter on February 26, 2013 at 10:28 PM

In NY I believe we’re limited to 7 balloons.

diogenes on February 26, 2013 at 10:45 PM

Whatever happened to ballon boys dad?

vcferlita on February 26, 2013 at 10:47 PM

Take a page from the Left. Everyone in FL should release a Mylar balloon this weekend, in protest.

Oil Can on February 26, 2013 at 10:51 PM

Motel 6 parking lot, huh. Yeah, he’s romantic. *snort*

Ronnie on February 26, 2013 at 10:58 PM

I have yet to see anything official as to what he was actually charged with – just second hand nonsense. Also, it doesnt matter what the police arrest him for, it is the prosecution who will determine the charges and I assure you it will not be a felony.

Blake on February 26, 2013 at 10:08 PM

You assure us? Oh, goody. And I’m sure we can trust your assertions, right?

I hope you see what I did there.

fossten on February 26, 2013 at 11:05 PM

I remember driving home in Tallahassee with my then five-year-old daughter in the car with her birthday balloon. She accidentally let go, and it flew out the window. After comforting her tears, would I also have been faced with felony environmental charges and with endangerment to a minor because I somehow enabled her life of crime?

INC on February 26, 2013 at 9:52 PM

Probably worse for being in a moving car at the time. I’d say lethal injection or a Hardball marathon would be appropriate. /

Ronnie on February 26, 2013 at 11:12 PM

Am I in Russia now, or what?

petefrt on February 26, 2013 at 9:52 PM

What a silly comparison!!! Nobody was attempting to escape – this time.

Shy Guy on February 26, 2013 at 11:27 PM

They’ll slap him with a fine and let him go, along with community service. Unless the court decides to push a message and this law and use this guy as another message.

So much of this kind of stuff really is up to the discretion of the officer, and there’s so much at play. It’s sad really, though often ironically amusing… except when it’s your turn to have the police eyeing you.

It is said that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but in this day and age with so many statutes, codes, ordinances and laws, a person can quite easily be ignorant of a huge chunk of the laws out there.

But it’s stuff like this that really gets people bent out of shape about police and the judicial system.

Logus on February 26, 2013 at 11:30 PM

What’s the name of the cop?

bluegill on February 26, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Beat it.

katy the mean old lady on February 26, 2013 at 11:43 PM

Years ago I had military training at Camp Blanding, FL. During one days training. I drove a Bradley Fighting Vehicle on their tank trails. When we got back to the shop, the instructor told me if I hit one of the trees on the edges of the trail, it would have been a $25,000 fine…because it was protected woodpecker habitat.

91Veteran on February 26, 2013 at 11:45 PM

Thank God the last election settled the issue of free contraceptives! Now we can move on to trivial stuff, lime first amendment violations by judges en masse.

MTF on February 26, 2013 at 11:53 PM

Unruly citizens must conform.

Yours truly,
the state

AltTuning on February 27, 2013 at 12:16 AM

I must confess that I lost my grip my helium balloon when I went to the state fair when I was five.

Come and get me coppers!

LegendHasIt on February 27, 2013 at 12:58 AM

Florida actually does have a statute on the books regarding balloon releases:

It’s a non-criminal infraction… fine only.

Wendya on February 27, 2013 at 3:09 AM

Use a balloon? Go to jail.

John the Libertarian on February 27, 2013 at 3:49 AM

Beat it.

katy the mean old lady on February 26, 2013 at 11:43 PM

You’re such a sucker for Michael Jackson tunes.

John the Libertarian on February 27, 2013 at 3:50 AM

I hope you see what I did there.

fossten on February 26, 2013 at 11:05 PM

Yeah, you made an ass out of yourself. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last.

Blake on February 27, 2013 at 5:00 AM

How many 5 year olds are you planning to put in jail.

RickB on February 26, 2013 at 10:21 PM

None. I lack the authority to put anyone in jail and furthermore, it is illegal to arrest 5 year olds.

Blake on February 27, 2013 at 5:02 AM

#FreeAnthonyBrasfield

BigGator5 on February 27, 2013 at 6:47 AM

Also watching the romantic gesture: an FHP trooper, who instead noted probable cause for an environmental crime.

And there goes his gun rights too. Imprisonment, fine, gun rights gone. For releasing a couple balloons.

This is the stuff of police states.

I still remember an old high school teacher telling us (way back when they still taught) that in the Soviet Union, they had so many laws, the idea was that the police could stop any person at random and find them in violation of the law.

JellyToast on February 27, 2013 at 6:51 AM

I am not sure if there is a statue of limitations for such a horrendous crime but I too was part of a balloon launch many years ago and for this apologize.

CW on February 27, 2013 at 7:28 AM

black is white

Illegals get let out of jail……Americans that release a balloon go to jail.

Free speech is hate speech.

Defending your family, with a clip larger than 7 shots, from criminals…..makes you as criminal.

Obama is bankrupting the country…….and someone else is too blame.

Upside down we are!

PappyD61 on February 27, 2013 at 8:25 AM

Welcome to the Fascist States of America.

rbj on February 27, 2013 at 8:49 AM

PappyD61

Bravo

The leftists will wonder what happened to their house of cards empire when the free citizens finally have had their fill of this Bee Ess.

Kuffar on February 27, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Also, it doesnt matter what the police arrest him for, it is the prosecution who will determine the charges and I assure you it will not be a felony.

Blake on February 26, 2013 at 10:08 PM

So, it’s perfectly for the police to arrest citizens willy-nilly, so long as the prosecutor only hits him with a misdemeanor fine, or lets the matter drop? Gotcha.

GWB on February 27, 2013 at 8:55 AM

it is illegal to arrest 5 year olds.

Blake on February 27, 2013 at 5:02 AM

Dude, what color is the sky in your world?

GWB on February 27, 2013 at 8:56 AM

How could the cop tell that they were not environmentally friendly balloons like the ones released during every University of Nebraska home football game? Seriously, unless the guy admitted that they were mylar they would have had to track down the balloons when they finally fell.

Evidently he should have reserved his right to an attorney prior to answering questions about releasing some balloons. We are now officially at that point in our country.

If you are driving with your windows down and your hat flies out the window, be prepared to call an attorney ASAP if you get pulled over before you can turn around and pick it up.

weaselyone on February 27, 2013 at 10:51 AM

These balloons cause power outages. You’re not suppose to just let them loose.

Blake on February 26, 2013 at 9:54 PM

Yes. So five years in prison for committing multiple felonies is a great way for the punishment to fit the crime. Cool.

MikeknaJ on February 26, 2013 at 9:58 PM

And how often are they attributed to such power outages?
Does this happen enough it needs to be a crime?
I’d wager young children drown in buckets more often.
Should we make it a crime to own a bucket with kids in your house?
This is not a strawman argument.
This is an example to show how far removed from reality laws like this have become.
You’re not supposed to clean up a broken curly lightbulb evidently without a hazmat suit either.
Did you know you also have to have a special applicator’s license to dispense chemical for weed control on your own land, even if you’ve been doing it your whole life & the directions are easy enough for a 5th grader to understand, right there on the jug?
Laws like this have no place in the world except to cement tyranny.

Badger40 on February 27, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Did you know you also have to have a special applicator’s license to dispense chemical for weed control on your own land, even if you’ve been doing it your whole life & the directions are easy enough for a 5th grader to understand, right there on the jug?
Laws like this have no place in the world except to cement tyranny.

Badger40 on February 27, 2013 at 11:09 AM

And regarding the chemical, the state forces you to spray your property for noxious weeds or they tack the cost of a professional spray company to your property taxes. And guess what happens if you don’t pay those?
And you know how they check? They fly over your property in a plane.
Hubby & I found that the fall was the best time to spray leafy spurge (we used bugs too) & that spraying in the spring was actually a waste of time & $$.
But guess what? They don’t care.
They make you do it when they say you do it, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

Badger40 on February 27, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Badger40 on February 27, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Sounds like somebody needs to pull weeds in the capitol. They certainly sound noxious enough.

GWB on February 27, 2013 at 11:56 AM

None. I lack the authority to put anyone in jail and furthermore, it is illegal to arrest 5 year olds.

Blake on February 27, 2013 at 5:02 AM

Unusual, not illegal.

/Former Juvi Officer

Irritable Pundit on February 27, 2013 at 1:25 PM

“Ballons? Why…those aren’t balloons, officer.

They are condoms, and this a test run of a unique delivery system I’m developing.”

I would also like to point out that in this case, a law enforcement officer arrested a man for letting balloons fly. Is there any doubt that this officer would enforce a gun ban/confiscation policy with the zeal?

So those of you who think police officers are going to revolt against gun control laws need to think again.

BobMbx on February 27, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Oh, the humanity!…..

I count several hundred felonies right there.

BobMbx on February 27, 2013 at 1:31 PM

The servants have become the masters.

The masters have become the slaves.

Axion on February 27, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Goodbye liberty. We hardly knew ye.

hillbillyjim on February 27, 2013 at 5:44 PM