Starbucks Poisoning Suspect Arrested

By Brett Snider, Esq. on April 30, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Starbucks poisoning suspect was arrested Monday on allegations that she attempted to plant tainted bottles of orange juice at a coffeehouse in San Jose, California.

Ramineh Behbehanian, 50, faces poisoning and attempted murder charges after a customer saw her allegedly take two bottles from a bag and place them in a display case alongside other refrigerated items, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

The bottles contained a concoction of orange juice and rubbing alcohol. With Behbehanian now in custody, many are left wondering if this was actually an attempted poisoning or not.

Felony Poisoning

California law makes it a crime for anyone who intentionally mixes poison or other harmful substances with food, drinks, medicine, or the public water supply, knowing that someone will consume it and injure themselves.

Behbehanian allegedly mixed rubbing alcohol, a fairly harmful substance when ingested, with a drink, orange juice. So if convicted for the attempted Starbucks poisoning under this law, Behbehanian could face anywhere from two to five years in state prison.

But since crimes are most heinous when they succeed, attempted crimes are given lesser sentences in many jurisdictions.

Poisonous Intent?

The crime of felony poisoning requires a specific intent: that the defendant knew or should have known that by placing poison into a food, drink or medicine, that some person may be injured by it.

In her defense, Behbehanian could potentially argue that she lacked the intent to poison anyone, and that the alcohol mixed with orange juice was for her own consumption. She may have just been using the Starbucks fridge to chill her extremely potent screwdrivers.

However, the alleged attempted poisoner will have a much harder time arguing that she should not have known that, even if the OJ and ethyl alcohol mix was for her, someone else may have inadvertently purchased either of the bottles and drank the poisonous juice.

Attempted Murder

Authorities have also charged Behbehanian with attempted murder, which could carry a sentence of life in prison if she is convicted. However, prosecutors will need to prove that she had the required intent to kill when placing the bottles in the fridge in order for a jury to convict her.

At this point, Ramineh Behbehanian's motives remain unclear. But it is doubtful she'll be going back to Starbucks any time soon.

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