Those tossing objects from high buildings, beware!

Wan Lixin
Apparently, when these people no longer enjoyed immunity as before, they would think twice before tossing anything in a tantrum.
Wan Lixin

Last Friday, a man who had tossed objects out of a 14th floor apartment was sentenced to one-year imprisonment for endangering public security.

The verdict was meted out by the district court in Minhang, Shanghai.

This is a landmark verdict, because it is the first of such verdicts in Shanghai following a new interpretation of such offences from the Supreme People’s Court on November 14.

On August 1, Jiang, the man in question, broke into his parents’ home in Minhang, smashing furniture with a baseball bar, and then threw mobile phones, flat-panels and a knife out of the window.

The objects fell on three cars parked in the neighborhood and a path frequented by residents. Jiang then reported the case to the police.

Although Jiang’s act had not resulted in injuries or serious property damages (the car injuries totaled 4,300 yuan (US$614)), he was already found guilty of jeopardizing public security.

According to the new provisions, those throwing objects from high buildings could be prosecuted for jeopardizing public security, willful injury, or murder.

While the court recognized Jiang’s reporting to the police as an extenuating circumstance, it decided this was insufficient to earn him a suspended sentence, given the severity of the case. Some of the objects he tossed out fell on the pathways, representing a clear threat to residents.

I believe this verdict would be a good deterrent to future offenders.

In the past, except for serious cases where the tossed objects have caused injuries or deaths, it was notoriously difficult to incriminate such offenders. Such cases, if addressed at all, easily got boggled down in legal quibbling. Unless there were serious consequences, the culprits were likely to be let off with a slap on the wrist.

Statistics from the Supreme People’s Court suggest that, from 2016 to 2018, courts nationwide had handled 1,200 civilian cases involving tossed or fallen objects from high buildings. Of these 30 percent have resulted in personal injuries. By comparison, there were only 31 criminal cases, and half of them involved death of the victims.

This is because although the number of such offences is considerable, they would have predominantly been handled as civilian cases, with exceptions made only for those leading to serious injuries or deaths.

In the absence of legal provisions to incriminate such conduct, some took law into their own hands. .

For instance, in September 29 in Jiaozuo, Henan Province, a man, under the influence of intoxication, tossed a bottle down from the 13th floor apartment. The property management, lacking any effective means to deal with him, instituted a 30-day suspension of power supply to the man.

Ironically, when the extrajudicial expedient was reported by media, there was an uproar, with some legal experts quick to moralize whether property management has the authority to punish this way.

The new legal provisions would have precluded such a dilemma.

As a matter of fact, the legal provisions were put to use right the next day after it was published.

On the morning of November 15, a 30-year-old woman in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, inebriated and after quarreling with her partner over trifles, threw a kitchen knife out of the their tenth floor apartment.

The knife descended on the roof of a bus at a stop, bounced up and down to the ground, to the consternation of the passengers waiting at the stop.

She was arrested soon after being identified.

Apparently, when these people no longer enjoyed immunity as before, they would think twice before tossing anything in a tantrum.

Parents must also learn how to discipline their children more effectively, as many objects are thrown by willful kids. They might pay dearly for their lapses.

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