Dolphins defensive end Phillip Merling was arrested in Broward County for a domestic violence incident. He is the fourth Dolphins player since February to face criminal charges. Running back Ronnie Brown and corner back Will Allen were arrested for DUI, while defensive tackle Tony McDaniel was arrested for misdemeanor battery stemming from a domestic violence incident. Allen's DUI occurred on Miami Beach, while Brown was arrested in Georgia. The court records do not indicate whether Merling will hire a Broward County or Miami criminal attorney to defend the charges.
Merling posted a bond in the amount of $15,000.00 after appearing before a judge. Unlike most cases where a defendant can post a bond immediately, assuming a case is not non-bondable, anyone arrested for domestic violence must appear before a bond hearing judge before his or her release can be secured. There are two rationales for this procedure. One it allows for a bit of a cooling off period, secondly judges will impose a stay away order from the victim. A stay away order is a court order issued by a judge directing the defendant not to have contact with the alleged victim. The judge will a direct a defendant not to have any physical contact, third party contact, or contact via e-mail, text messages or phone calls. If a defendant violates the no contact order, a judge will most likely revoke the bond and could sentence the defendant up to six months for contempt of court. Of course, a hearing will be held prior to the contempt order being issued.
The majority of domestic violence cases involve misdemeanor charges such as simple assault or simple battery. However, there are aggravating factors that can elevate these offenses to felonies. As in Merling's case, he was charged with aggravated battery against his girlfriend. The police reports indicate that he struck his girlfriend about her head and face causing swelling and redness. The alleged victim also sustained a cut lip as a result of the battery. While the facts and injuries usually result in the charge of simple battery, the charge in Merling's cases was elevated to a second degree felony simply because his girlfriend was pregnant.
Simple battery is defined under the Florida Statutes as an intentionally striking or touching of a victim without a persons consent. If prosecutors can prove that the defendant knew or should have known the victim was pregnant, the crime will be far more serious. A simple batter charge carries a maximum sentence of 364 days in the county jail, while an aggravated battery on a pregnant victim is a second degree felony punishable up to 15 years in prison. The biggest problem with an aggravated battery charge is that under state sentencing guidelines, the minimum sentence a judge can offer is 21 months which is the bottom of the guideline range.
If you have been arrested or domestic violence and charged with aggravated battery seek out a qualified Miami criminal defense law firm to defend the charges. Skilled attorneys with backgrounds in defending domestic violence cases know the tricks of the trade. Very often, experienced can get the charges dropped or obtain a pre-trial diversion program for their clients charges with this or similar offenses.
Miami Dolphin's Phillip Merling Arrested, Accused of Domestic Battery, The Miami Herald, May 27, 2010.