Photo: ABC News
If you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in a courtroom, you’re probably scared of hearing the words “jail” or “prison” in your sentence.But more frequently, judges are issuing strange punishments to give convicts an alternative to the big house or even having to pay a fine.
Just a few weeks ago, a judge ordered a South Carolina woman to read the Old Testament as part of her punishment for drunk driving.
She’s not alone.
Another defendant was sentenced to wear a chicken suit in public while two others handed out water-safety fliers while standing in a kiddie pool.
The punishment only lasted around 15 minutes.
Andrew Vactor, 24, was initially fined $150 for blasting loud rap music in his car.
But Judge Susan Fornof-Lippencott offered to cut the fine to $35 if he agreed to listen to 20 hours of classical music including Beethoven, Chopin, and Bach, the AP reported in 2008.
Fornof-Lippencott wanted Vactor to know how it felt to listen to music he didn't enjoy, the AP reported.
But Vactor lasted 15 minutes before opting to pay the fine, telling the AP he needed to skip the music so he could get to basketball practice.
'I didn't have the time to deal with that,' Vactor told the AP. 'I just decided to pay the fine.'
An Ohio couple went from tasting danger on the rapids of Ohio to embarrassing themselves in front of people while standing in a kiddie pool.
Grace Nash and Bruce Crawford ignored flood emergency warnings and took an unregistered raft to the Grand River for a swim, CBS News reported in May 2011.
When they made it to land, they allegedly misled officials about the details of their misadventure.
They eventually admitted to the whole thing and got a 90-day sentence in jail, according to News Net 5.
30 days were reportedly knocked off immediately, and Ohio Judge Michael Ciconnetti gave them an option to knock off the rest: standing in a childrens' pool, wearing life jackets, and handing out water safety pamphlets during a food festival.
An argument over a husband not wishing his wife a happy birthday ended in court.
An arrest affidavit alleged Joseph Bray pushed his wife onto a couch and held his fist up to her, though never hitting her, the Sun Sentinel reported in February.
'It was a minor incident, in the court's opinion,' Judge John Hurley reportedly said. 'The court was would not normally do that if the court felt there was some violence but this is very, very minor and the court felt that that was a better resolution than other alternatives.'
He reportedly asked Bray's wife what she liked to do, the Sentinel reported. She answered that she enjoyed bowling and eating at Red Lobster.
'Flowers, birthday card, Red Lobster, bowling,' Hurley reportedly ordered.
Mark Byron posted a rant about his wife on Facebook and it reportedly landed him a jail sentence.
Byron got into an argument with his wife, Elisabeth Byron, and posted an angry message on Facebook, Cincinnati.com reported in February.
She took him to court, alleging the rant violated a protective order that barred him from harassing her. A judge then ordered him to go to jail or post an apology to her on Facebook every day for 30 days.
Byron obliged for a while, but later stopped posting the apologies on the 26th day, claiming doing so violated his free speech rights, the Associated Press reported in March.
A Spanish man with a law degree sued his parents for refusing to pay him an allowance.
A judge didn't side with him and instead said he had 30 days to move out and find a job, the Daily Telegraph reported in April 2011.
The ruling is apparently unusual since it's common in Spain for people in their 30s to live with their parents, according to the Daily Telegraph.
But the judge didn't completely leave the guy hanging. He reportedly ordered the parents to pay the son 200 euros a month until he was able to support himself.
Judge Michael A. Cicconetti is famous for handing down unusual sentences.
But he grew particularly enraged when Michelle Murray allegedly abandoned 35 kittens in two Ohio parks, ABC reported in November 2005. Many of the kittens later got respiratory infections and nine of them died.
'How would you like to be dumped off at a metro park late at night, spend the night listening to the coyotes ... , listening to the raccoons around you in the dark night, and sit out there in the cold not knowing where you're going to get your next meal, not knowing when you are going to be rescued?' Cicconetti asked Murray, according to ABC.
Cicconetti reportedly told her she a choice of jail time, donating to her Humane Society, or spending a night alone in the woods.
She chose a solitary night in the wilderness, according to ABC.
Otis Mobley Jr. was indicted for allegedly trying to sell a grenade launcher, but Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers released him on bond under one unusual condition.
Mobley had to read each day and write book reports.
The judge told him to spend an hour each day reading books and at least half an hour writing reports from a reading list she gave him.
A pizza shop owner in Buffalo allegedly committed tax fraud and could have spent seven years behind bars.
But the judge offered to spare Joe Jacobbi jail if he agreed to pay back the $106,000 he owed along with donating sheet pizzas to a City Mission, an New York organisation which helps feed the needy, WKBW reported in October 2010.
The judge reportedly told Jacobbi to deliver a dozen pizzas every Tuesday for a year.
An Ohio man convicted of soliciting a prostitute served as inspiration for more of Judge Michael Cicconetti's creativity.
The judge ordered the man to don a chicken suit and carry around a poster board essentially proclaiming 'No chicken ranch in our city,' ABC reported in April 2007.
'If it causes a little bit of embarrassment, then so what,' Cicconetti reportedly said. 'I found out that the traditional sentences, the jail time and a fine -- those weren't working.'
Andrew Gaudioso was reportedly on drugs when his car smashed into Thomas Towers Jr., who was a sergeant in the military.
The prosecution had the chance to ask for an 8-year prison sentence but Towers Jr.'s father, Thomas Towers Sr., wanted something more meaningful, the Tampa Bay Times reported in November 2010.
'I want him to apologise to my family -- every week,' Towers Sr. told the assistant state attorney, according to the Times. 'I want him to remember, for the rest of his life, that he killed my son.'
So the prosecution and the defence agreed to an unusual plea bargain that a judge signed off on: Gaudioso had to send the Towers family one postcard a week, for 15 years.
A North Carolina man reportedly killed a deer and bobcat without official permits and got himself banned for two years from hunting anywhere in the world.
Rodney Poteat was sentenced to the hunting ban in federal court and was forced to pay a total of $5,350 in fines, the Salisbury Post reported in September 2011.
'This area of prosecution, in my opinion, is getting far more aggressive, and so we're starting to see more outrageous sentences like that,' Charles Feldmann, a partner at Feldmann Nagel & Associated which specialises in wildlife law, told the Associated Press in 2011.
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