Charges dropped against man arrested for dressing as 'The Joker'

Jeremy Putman, 31, arrested in Winchester on a felony charge of wearing a mask in public while...
Jeremy Putman, 31, arrested in Winchester on a felony charge of wearing a mask in public while dressed as the Joker(WHSV)
Published: Mar. 24, 2017 at 5:48 PM EDT
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UPDATE (Aug. 9):

The man arrested for dressing as "The Joker" while carrying a sword in Winchester earlier this year has been cleared of all criminal charges.

Jeremy Putman, 31, was arrested in March and charged with wearing a mask in public, which is a Class 6 felony in Virginia. He first faced court in April, had the trial continued, and then, on August 9, the charge was dismissed in WInchester General District Court.

, the charge against him was dropped for good behavior, after he did not go out dressed as the fictional Batman villain at any point in the months since the arrest.

Marc Abrams, the Winchester Commonwealth's Attorney, also argued that the Virginia law was too ambiguous for Putman to be prosecuted under it.

You can find the full text of that part of the Virginia Code, and more details from Putman's arrest, below.


A man was arrested in Winchester on Friday for walking along roads dressed as "The Joker" while carrying a sword.

The Winchester Police Department says several calls came in around 2 p.m. on March 24 about a suspicious male dressed as the fictional Batman villain, who callers said was walking along Papermill Road and South Pleasant Valley Road while wearing a black cape and carrying a sword.

Officers with the department caught up with him in the 2600 block of South Pleasant Valley Road, where they took him into custody.

He was identified as Jeremy Putman, 31, and charged with wearing a mask in public. Police say they've received similar reports over the past week and believe Putman was the one responsible in those cases too.

The charge is a Class 6 Felony and is punishable with up to five years in jail.

He is being held at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center under a $2,000 secured bond.

Officers want to take this chance to remind the community of the seriousness of this crime.

According to Virginia Code 18.2-422: “It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood, or other device, whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered, so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, to be or appear in any public place, or upon any private property in this Commonwealth, without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing. However, the provisions of this section shall not apply to persons (i) wearing traditional holiday costumes; (ii) engaged in professions, trades, employment, or other activities, and wearing protective masks which are deemed necessary for the physical safety of the wearer or other persons; (iii) engaged in any bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball; or (iv) wearing a mask, hood, or other device for bona fide medical reasons upon (a) the advice of a licensed physician or osteopath, and carrying on his person an affidavit from the physician or osteopath specifying the medical necessity for wearing the device, and the date on which the wearing of the device will no longer be necessary, and providing a brief description of the device, or (b) the declaration of a disaster or state of emergency by the Governor in response to a public health emergency, where the emergency declaration expressly waives this section, defines the mask appropriate for the emergency, and provides for the duration of the waiver. The violation of any provisions of this section is a Class 6 felony.”