WINCHESTER, Va. - A Virginia man arrested for dressing up as his favorite comic book villain appeared in court on Monday proclaiming his innocence. Jeremy Putman is out of jail, but for now, he is barred from wearing face paint that some in the community and the Winchester Police Department found to be rather disturbing.
Putman is not your typical 31-year-old. He fancies himself as a real-life Joker and has many Joker-themed tattoos.
"I thought why just be a fan when I can be the actual person,” Putman said. “But not like a lunatic like he is. But more of a funny type."
FOX 5 met with Putman after his arraignment on a charge of wearing a mask in public.
“I'm a very big fan of Batman, and the Joker is like one of the big deals of all,” he said. “Everyone likes the Joker."
He said he especially likes the Joker as portrayed on the big screen by Jack Nicholson and the late Heath Ledger.
However, the trouble is an adult wearing makeup like the Joker is apparently against Virginia law.
“Basically it is a crime in Virginia to cover your face or use anything that will hide your identity out in public unless it falls under certain situations -- such as during Halloween or anybody under the age of 16 -- it doesn’t apply to," said Winchester Police Capt. Doug Watson.
Putman was arrested on a street in Winchester on March 24 shortly after taking a photo with the young daughter of a man who happened to be driving by.
"I just did it for fun,” he said. “There was no party I was going to. I just did it to get attention.”
But he was arrested, in part, because of all of the reported clown sightings over the past year.
“Our chief at that time put out a public service announcement that we did not want those types of situations to occur here,” said Capt. Watson.
Putman’s attorney said it’s the law that is crazy.
"This was a statute that was enacted in the 1940s,” said Putman’s attorney, Gerardo Delgado. “Its primary purpose was to unmask the [Ku Klux] Klan."
Putman is out on bail until his next court appearance in August. His attorney said the charges will be dropped. For now, he cannot walk around as the Joker in public until then."
“I'm not a monster, I'm not a criminal, but more of a funny, crazy person,” said Putman. “Not dangerous."
He said he is hoping to get back into character once his court case is resolved.
"I'm called the Winchester Joker now,” Putman said.