A-Rod is going to have to take a back seat to Fountain Mom for the time being. An Iowa woman has attained “overnight celebrity” status after a stunt she pulled at a Kansas City Royals game on August 5th. The woman was dubbed the “Fountain Mom,” after she was videotaped by Royals fans walking through the fountains in left field at Kauffman Stadium. As only social media can do, her walk through the water and encounter with security made her an instant celebrity thanks to the posting of the recordings on social media sites such as YouTube. Fountain Mom has news agencies and sport's talk shows abuzz with her bold move. The videos depicts and witnesses reported that soon after she walked through the fountains, security officers arrived and asked her to leave. As they were attempting to detain the woman, she slipped away from the men and ran back toward the fountain. She was eventually caught and taken back into custody by security and ultimately transported off to jail.
Fountain Mom is now facing criminal trespass and interference with official acts charges in addition to a solicitation charge which has garnered the most attention. The case brings up an interesting discussion about what constitutes trespass and interference in Iowa. How could she be trespassing if she was lawfully at the ballpark after paying for a ticket? How could she be guilty of interference with official acts if the security guards weren’t law enforcement? Missouri Law will ultimately determine Fountain Mom's fate but we'll take this moment to educate readers on what Iowa law provides.
In Iowa, you can be found guilty of trespass under one of several theories. The first is plain old “intentional trespass.” To be found guilty, the State would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) a person entered the property of another; (2) that person did not have express permission of the owner; (3) and at the time the person entered the property, they had the intent to commit a public offense, to use, remove, alter, damage, harass, place an object on the property, or to hunt, fish or trap on the property.
The second theory of trespass is remaining on the property. The elements that the State has to prove are (1) that the person entered the property of another; (2) the person was asked to leave and did not do so; and (3) the request to leave was made by someone who had lawful authority to make that request.
Another theory is interfering with lawful use of property. The elements are (1) entering another’s property; (2) not having permission to enter the property; and (3) having the intent to interfere with the lawful use of the property by another.
The fourth and final theory of trespass is wrongful use. The elements that the State must prove are: (1) the defendant entered the property of another; (2) the defendant had permission to be in or on the property; (3) the defendant wrongfully used the property, removed items from the property, altered the property, damaged the property, or placed objects on the property; and (4) the defendant did any of the acts in element (3) without the permission of the owner.
It would appear that only second and fourth theories of trespass would potentially apply to the Fountain Mom if this occurred in Iowa. She intentionally went into the water fountain; she was asked to leave and remained in the water fountain; and the request was made by a security officer at the ballpark- thus, the second theory applies. Or the fourth theory- she entered the ballpark; she had permission to do so; she wrongfully used the property by swimming in the fountain; and she didn’t have permission from the owner of the ballpark to do so.
If convicted of these charges in Iowa, Fountain Mom would be looking at a simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a fine of $65 to $625 dollars. In Iowa, the crime of trespass is a “specific intent” crime. This means that if Fountain Mom didn’t mean to intentionally commit the crime of trespass- for example, if she was pushed into the fountain or unintentionally fell into the fountain- she would not have the requisite intent to commit the crime and she could not be found guilty. There are some other recognized defenses to this crime. Obviously, if the State can’t prove any one of the elements that constitute the crime of trespass, Fountain Mom would be found not guilty. Iowa law, however, also recognizes an exception to the crime of trespass for persons entering another’s property to retrieve their personal property. In order for this defense to apply, the person must have (1) entered the property for the sole purpose of retrieving personal property which had accidentally or inadvertently been thrown, fallen, strayed, or blown onto the property; (2) the person must take the most direct and accessible route to and from the retrieved personal property; (3) the person must leave the property as quickly as possible; and (4) the person must not unduly interfere with the lawful use of the property. Unfortunately for Fountain Mom, she didn’t appear to be retrieving a lost hat or purse, and she certainly didn’t appear to be taking the most direct route.
Fountain Mom was also charged with interference with official acts as well. In Iowa, to warrant a conviction for interference, the State would have to prove (1) a person knew an individual was a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical care provider who was performing an act within their lawful duties, or was a lawful process server in the performance of their duties; and (2) the person knowingly resisted or obstructed the person while the person was performing the official act. Under Iowa law, the definition of a peace officer includes sheriffs and deputies, city police officers, peace officer members of the department of public safety, parole officers while performing their duties as parole officers, probation officers while performing their duties as prescribed by the judicial district department of correctional services, special security officers employed by board of regents institutions (i.e. campus police), conservation officers appointed full-time by the director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, employees of the Iowa Department of Transportation that are designated peace officers under law, and reserve peace officers.
Interference with official acts is a simple misdemeanor in Iowa. The Iowa legislature takes interference charges pretty seriously and upped the minimum fine on this specific charge. A conviction for interference will cost you a minimum of $250 up to $625 and may get you up to 30 days in the county jail.
Luckily for Fountain Mom, it appears from the YouTube videos that the gentlemen who apprehended Fountain Mom were security guards employed by the ballpark. These men would not qualify as peace officers under Iowa law and Fountain Mom would likely not be convicted of interference. Similarly, if Fountain Mom was apprehended by peace officers but they were in plain clothes and did not identify themselves as peace officers, it is also likely that Fountain Mom would not be convicted of interference. Unfortunately for Fountain Mom, she was in Kansas City, Missouri, so Iowa law doesn’t apply to her case.
In an age where cell phone cameras are in the hands of nearly everyone, and uploading a video to YouTube takes mere seconds, it’s probably best practice to save yourself the hassle and stay out of the fountains on your next trip to the ballpark (or even the mall, for that matter); but if you do find yourself in a situation where you have been charged with trespass or interference, the best course of action is to immediately seek the advice of one of the experienced attorneys at GRL Law. Shut up, Wise up, Lawyer up.
By the way, according to Foxsports.com nobody apparently checked to see if "Fountain Mom" is actually a mom before giving her the nickname....