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10 Crazy Times Sneezing Got People In Trouble With The Law

by Domenico De Luca
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Sneezing is a necessary part of life. We sneeze to get rid of any unwanted particles we may have inhaled. Our sinuses, sensors and tiny hair-like cilia in our nose all play a part in expelling those bothersome foreign particles.

According to a team of researchers at MIT, the largest droplets from a sneeze can land up to 1 to 2 meters away from the sneezer. Smaller droplets can travel as far as 6 to 8 meters.

99.9% of the time, a sneeze is just a sneeze. It happens and then we go on with our day. But, for some, a sneeze means so much more.

The following are 10 examples of when a sneeze got someone in trouble with the law.

SEE ALSO: 10 Mundane Parts Of Everyday Life You Won’t Believe Kill People

10 Woman Booked After Sneezing In Bailiff’s Face

Most of us know that it is impolite to sneeze in people’s faces. You just do not do it. An Illinois woman named Mellissa Estelle did not get that memo.

Back in 2016, Estelle, 24, was in court to settle some traffic offenses. Apparently, she could not keep herself from putting her feet up on the seats. A court employee had to tell her multiple times to quit it. Mellissa was not amused.

She got up, walked over to the bailiff and sneezed in her face. The victim said her face was covered with, “…a mucous-type substance,” as a result of Mellissa Estelle’s deliberate sneeze.

Already in trouble for a DUI, Mellissa was now facing a charge of battery. She was detained for 6 hours and then released on a $1,000 bond.[1]

9 Man Charged After Using Sneezing Powder On Woman

For some people, sneezing and sex are intimately linked. There have been documented cases of people continually sneezing after sex or even when only thinking about sex. There is also something called, “honeymoon rhinitis”, where people experience nasal inflammation when engaged in sex. There are sneezing fetish websites and a sneezing fetish forum.

A paper published in an academic journal by Dr. Michael King in 1990 even found the case of a 26 year-old man who experienced sexual arousal whenever he saw other people sneeze.

That brings us to Commerce, Texas where an elderly man was arrested for blowing white pepper into a woman’s face.

Upon interviewing the elderly man, police were dumbfounded, “We found out he’s got a problem. He becomes aroused by females sneezing,” Commerce Police Department Police Chief Kerry Crews said. Needless to say, he had previously never heard of such a thing.

It all went down at Commerce Hardware and Feed. An employee was ringing up the elderly man’s purchases when he suddenly blew a powdery substance in her face.

The employee ended up visiting the hospital because her throat and arm were irritated. The elderly man was booked for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury.[2]

8 Police Charge Man For Slapping People For Sneezing

Elderly people living in the city of Carlisle, in the UK, had to have their wits about them back in the winter of 2015. Seems a middle-aged man was running around slapping elderly people who dared to sneeze in public.

Eventually, police tracked down the perpetrator, Stephen Jackson, 49, and charged him with five counts of assault and one count of using threatening behavior to cause harassment, alarm and distress. The five victims ranged in age from 65 to 82.

Months later, in court, facing allegations that he assaulted 14 people—including a baby—Jackson denied the charges.[3]

7 Man Sneezes On Putin Photo—Gets Jail Time

According to former Kremlin insiders, Russian President Vladimir Putin is kind of a corrupt guy. One former Kremlin insider, Sergei Kolesnikov, says Putin tasked him with knocking on the doors of the super-rich to collect funds for a government healthcare program. Instead, Putin took the $1 billion dollars Segei had collected and built himself a palace.

Putin is also accused of ordering the poisoning, shooting and possible strangulation of a number of journalists, a human rights lawyer and a former Prime Minister of Russia—all of whom wrote or spoke up about his corrupt ways.

So, when Dimitry Karuyev sneezed on a photo of Putin (the authorities say he spat), he had to know he would catch hell for it. Luckily, the hell he caught was only a 15 day prison sentence for minor hooliganism.

This jail sentence for emptying the contents of his nose on a photo of Putin was all part of a general attempt to quash protests back in 2012 as Putin began his 3rd term in office.[4]

6 Suspect Reveals Hiding Spot When He Sneezes

A man in Leicester, UK ruptured his throat trying to hold back a sneeze. He said he felt a “popping” sensation. That was quickly followed by pain, trouble swallowing and trouble speaking. He was put on a feeding tube for 7 days to allow the soft tissue in his neck to heal. Thankfully, he ended up making a full recovery.

Maybe that is why an Oklahoma man, who had just ditched his car after leading police on a high-speed chase, didn’t try to stifle the sneeze that revealed his hiding spot.

Police were pursuing the man in the dark and on foot when they heard the man sneeze. The man was quickly found, arrested and taken into custody.

Those law allergies will get you every time.[5]

5 In 1918, A Man Was Arrested For Sneezing In Public

Over the course of just 18 months in 1918, the Spanish Flu ravaged the world. Estimates of those killed range from 20-100 million. In October of that same year, the deadly virus claimed the lives of 195,000 Americans.

So, even though it may seem strange to us today, those horrifying numbers suggest why, in 1918, it may have been perfectly understandable for the authorities to arrest a man simply for sneezing.

Tom McKeene, a cigar dealer from Spokane, Washington, was in court one day facing a charge of selling cigarettes to minors. While waiting for his turn in front of the judge, he made the terrible mistake of sneezing. In these awful times, sneezing in public was a crime.

Unluckily for McKeene, the health inspector happened to be in court that very same day. He hauled McKeene in front of the judge, who sent him to the city health office where it was determined that he had the flu.

He was sent home to recover before he could return to answer for his crimes.[6]

4 Police Search For Man Paying Boys To Sneeze

People will pay for just about anything—even sneezes.

One night, in 2018, in the city of Hamamatsu, Japan, a man in his 30s approached a high school student and offered to pay 1,000 Yen (about $10 U.S.) if the boy would sneeze for him.

Though a little murky as far as whether or not the man offering to pay for the sneeze broke any law, Shizuoka Prefectural Police did launch an investigation based on an article in the Police Act concerning “maintaining public safety and order.”

Apparently, there had been other reported incidents of older men approaching high school boys and asking them to sneeze. In Oct of 2016, a man in his 20s approached a high school boy and made the odd request while claiming he was doing research into sneezing.[7]

3 Cocaine Sneeze Gets Fisherman In Hot Water With The Law

When driving, you really have to keep your eyes on the road. Unfortunately, drivers are often distracted—whether by their cell phones, passengers, the radio, food or even sneezing.

Sneezing while driving can be deadly. Just do a web search for “sneezing car accidents” and you will find plenty of links from which to choose.

Luckily for fisherman Scott David Connelly, of Pembrokeshire, UK, when he sneezed, he did not hit another car or a pedestrian. He told police that a car got close to him, then he sneezed and lost control of his BMW—slamming it into a wall.

He also admitted to using cocaine. Prosecutor Vaughan Pritchard-Jones said, “He was three times the limit and he lost control of the vehicle.”

Connelly’s defender, Jonathan Webb, explained that, “If one is ingesting cocaine through the nose, sneezing can follow.”

Connelly received a 12 month driving ban and a small fine.

So, let that be a lesson—if you want to snort some cocaine, you should probably first pull over and park on the side of the road. Safety first.[8]

2 Man Arrested After Using Paper Towel To Clean Nose

Sometimes, when you sneeze you need to cleanup. It’s gross, but it has happened to all of us. And, sometimes, without a tissue or handkerchief on hand, we grab the closest substitute.

That is what an Atlanta man did after he blew his nose in a train station. Spotting a roll of paper towels on a maintenance cart, Alfred Murphy proceeded to help himself to some.

An officer saw Murphy stealing the sheets of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority paper towel and immediately asked the man to stop it. The man protested that he paid his fare so that entitled him to the paper towel. When the officer ordered Murphy to leave, the man flew into a rage.

One officer suffered a bloody nose, while another got cut under his right eye.

Not surprisingly, Murphy was on probation at the time of the sneezing incident. He received a slew of charges including battery and criminal trespassing.[9]

1 Woman Charged After Sneezing Leads To Gas Station Collision

Drinking coffee at a gas station became life threatening in Brockton, Massachusetts one April night in 2019.

The driver of a car that ended up crashing into a combination Gas Station-Cafe, Brianna Reyes, 21, told police she sneezed and then lost control of her car. It went airborne before impact.

Police spokesman, Darren Duarte shared the witness accounts of the accident, saying, “The vehicle jumped a curb and drove through bushes and the parking lot of the Shell gas station before crashing into the convenience store.”

An employee of MaryLou’s Coffee was just outside when the sedan raced by, “…when I turned my head, that’s when I saw the car hit. I was more concerned about my co-workers. It’s crazy. It’s definitely insane.”

Reyes was charged with reckless operation of a motor vehicle, property destruction and crossing a marked lane into oncoming traffic.[10]

For more fascinating crime lists, have a look at 10 Gruesome Crimes Fit For Horror Movies, and 10 Completely Bizarre Crimes Involving Animals.

About The Author: I have been writing for thirty years—screenplays, short stories, songs and, of course, lists. I love talking film, music, politics and hockey.

fact checked by Jamie Frater