According to the Sun Sentinel, a fight between two neighbors ensued after one criticized the other about his habit of feeding the ducks that reside in their mobile home community
The melee was apparently serious enough that the older gentleman (the one who initiated the verbal exchange) wound up in the hospital, while the other wound up arrested and charged with battery.
Our criminal defense lawyers understand that this particular case highlights two issues: first, that disagreements between neighbors over otherwise trivial issues such as feeding local ducks can quickly get out of hand and second, that crimes such as battery come with a more severe punishment if the victim was at least 65 years of age.
To be clear: feeding ducks is not against the law in Florida. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission does outlaw the feeding of wild animals such as bears, foxes and raccoons, but it does not regulate the population of muscovy ducks, who are frequently seen all over South Florida, from shopping center parking lots and residential neighborhoods to university campus ponds.
The President of Park City West’s homeowners association commented that while it is not illegal to feed the ducks, some residents do not approve of the practice, given that feeding the ducks encourages their presence, which, in turn, results in their leaving “droppings” all over the neighborhood. Apparently, the issue of duck feeding can also lead to a violent fight between neighbors. In court, the judge ordered the defendant to stop feeding the ducks, commenting that the man was “just creating a bigger problem by feeding the ducks.”
According to the man now facing charges, he was peacefully feeding ducks from his front yard when the elder gentleman began to argue with him about doing so; the defendant, annoyed by the fact that the older man had previously questioned him about feeding the ducks, “ran from his yard and tackled his neighbor,” according to the above-cited article.
Because the victim in the fight was over 65 years of age or older, the charge against the defendant was elevated from that of a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony; as such, the defendant faces up to 5 years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines if he is convicted.
While the duck feeder was the initial physical aggressor, it is clear that both men sustained injuries from the fight, in the form of scrapes on their hands and knees; the older man, who was taken to the hospital, required staples to seal a wound to the back of his head.
This incident is just another example of local disagreements getting way out of hand; as our South Florida criminal defense lawyers know, it is always best to try to resolve neighborhood disagreements in a neighborly way.