An American man is facing 30 days in jail or $500 fine for laughing too loud in his own home. Forty-two-year old Robert Schiavelli of Rockville Centre, New York received the tickets for ‘disturbing the peace’ on consecutive days in February after the police responded to a neighbour's complaints that his laughter could be heard across the street.
Schiavelli, who suffers from neurological problems and seizures was recently slapped with two ‘absurd’ summonses after his next-door neighbour complained, New York Post reported. "I did not know it was a crime to laugh out a window," said Schiavelli.
Schiavelli was chortling because he says his neighbour often taunts him due to his disability -- and his best defense is to laugh him off. However, a detective responded to the Rockville Centre neighbour's complaints and wrote up two tickets for ‘disturbing the peace’ at 6 pm on February 12 and 13.
Each summons carried a $250 fine or 15 days in jail. "It's absurd. My client faces 30 days in jail for laughing," Schiavelli's lawyer Andrew Campanelli said.
Schiavelli, who lives with his mother, was charged with acting ‘in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to others’. "The last time I checked, it was not a crime to laugh -- except in Rockville Centre," Campanelli said. At Schiavelli's arraignment on Wednesday, local Judge William Croutier said he ‘was not so inclined’ to dismiss the charges.
When the judge asked why police were called, Campanelli said, "My client is a bit of a gentle giant. The way he responds (to his neighbour) is to laugh."
"I will never let him take a plea on this," a fuming Campanelli added.