Recently in Domestic Violence Category

August 13, 2012

Wide Receiver Arrested and Loses Job

Former Dolphin receiver Chad Johnson was arrested on domestic violence charges Saturday and then soon thereafter lost his job. According to police reports, Johnson allegedly head-butted his wife during a heated argument. Apparently, Evelyn Lozada, Johnson's new wife, found a receipt for condoms in the trunk of the car. The argument escalated to the point that the defendant purportedly resorted to physical violence. After the encounter, the alleged victim ran to a neighbors house where she called 911. Police arrived at the scene and discovered that the victim had a laceration on her forehead. The police found Johnson driving around the neighborhood when he was stopped and arrested for misdemeanor battery, a common charge in domestic violence cases. This not the first arrest in recent times for Miami Dolphin players accused of domestic violence.

Johnson was taken to jail and appeared at a bond hearing the following day. The bail was set at $2,500 and the judge issued a non-contact or stay-away order. Johnson, like other defendants arrested for domestic violence could not post bail immediately which is uncommon for most criminal charges. In domestic violence cases, defendants are required to appear before a bond hearing judge prior to their release from custody. There are two reasons for the delay in domestic violence cases. First, the delay allows for a cooling off period. More importantly, the judge has to issue the stay away order thereby causing a defendant to have to wait until the next available bond hearing to see a judge prior to release. The criminal lawyer representing appeared at the jail upon Johnson's release and ferreted him off to an unknown location.

A first time arrest for domestic violence is not normally a catastrophic event for a defendant with a clean arrest record. Of course that depends on the severity of the domestic violence and the charge(s) levied by the state attorneys's office. Typical charges for domestic violence include misdemeanor battery, misdemeanor assault, aggravated assault, felony battery or aggravated battery. Depending on the actions of the defendant and the injuries sustained by an alleged victim will often dictate what charges will be filed by the prosecution. The disposition of the case will be determined by the level of the offense charged, the victim's injuries and most importantly the victim's position as to how the case is to be resolved.

First time offenders of the domestic violence laws represented by a qualified criminal attorney can usually receive the benefit of a pre-trial diversion or pre-trial intervention program. If a defendant enters and successfully completes the program, the prosecution will nolle pros or dismiss the charges at a future date. Johnson will most likely not be eligible for the program as he has a previous domestic violence arrest back in his junior college days. He was placed on probation and ordered to take anger management classes. As long as the victim cooperates in the case, Johnson will most likely be looking at probation with more classes. Defendants who are eligible for the program are required to complete the a domestic violence program consisting of 26 to 28 classes which generally takes 6 to 12 months to complete. Of course defendants do not have to accept the program of probation and can opt to go to trial. Defendant who prefer this course of action mst retain counsel that is experienced in a criminal trial setting.

Ex-Dolphin Chad Johnson Posts Bail on Domestic Charge, Miami Herald.com, August 12, 2012.

April 27, 2011

Dolphin's Player Victim of Domestic Violence

Brandon Marshall has again been thrust into the criminal justice system, but this time as the victim of domestic violence. The dispute occurred last Friday night between Marshall and is wife. The dispute resulted in Marshall's wife allegedly stabbing him in the abdomen causing him to spend the night in the trauma unit in Broward General Hospital. His wife, Michi, was arrested and booked on the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The defendant will either retain a Broward County or Miami criminal defense attorney to represent her in circuit court. Aggravated assault is a third degree felony punishable up to five years in prison. The defendant will most likely not face any period of incarceration as she has no prior criminal history.

Domestic violence cases are handled differently in Miami-Dade County from other types of criminal charges. In most other criminal cases, anyone arrested will receive a standard bond when booked into the jail and can immediately bond out of custody. Capital crimes and offenses that are punishable by life in prison do not afford a defendant a bond at the time of booking. Domestic violence charges have standard bonds, but defendants are required to appear before a judge before they can be released from jail. The bonds vary depending on the offense charged. Misdemeanor offenses such as simple battery generally carry a $1,500 bond, while felony offenses such as aggravated assault and aggravated battery have standard bond of $5,000.

Defendants in domestic violence cases are required to see a judge before their release for a couple of reasons. First, judges have any obligation to issue a stay away order to defendants charged in domestic violence cases. Stay away orders preclude defendants from having contact from victims. The order forbids defendants from contacting victims in person, telephonically, through e-mail or text messages. The order further forbids defendants from making third party contact with victims. Experienced criminal defense attorneys can appear before the judge presiding over the case and seek a modification of or discharge of the stay away order. The judge will require the victim to appear in court and provide sworn testimony under oath before a modification or discharge will be ordered. Secondly, preventing the early release provides for a short cooling off period.

Domestic violence charges are serious, not necessarily in terms of the punishment, but convictions or even withholds of adjudication will prevent a sealing or expungement of the record at a future date. First time offenders are generally offered pre-trial intervention which will which result in a nolle pros or dismissal if the defendant complies with all of the conditions set forth by the state attorney's office. Then and only after the case is dismissed can a defendant seek to seal or expunge his or her record. The victim must agree for any type of program to be offered to the defendant. If the victim does not concede to the program, probation will probably be offered. In either event, the defendant will be required to complete a rigorous 30 week batterer intervention program ("BIP"). These results are only options to a defendant charged with domestic violence. All defendants have a right to trial and can seek an acquittal from a jury compiled from residents of the county where the case is tried.

Miami Dolphin's Brandon Marshall Released from Hospital after Stabbing, Miami Herald.com, April 24, 2011.

October 4, 2010

Local Police Officer Arrested for Violating Domestic Violence Injunction

With the rash of domestic violence cases hitting the news wires, especially recent cases involving numerous homicides, a case involving a police officer would make for interesting reading. A Miami-Dade police officer was arrested last week for violating a domestic violence injunction. The officer has been relieved of duty and is facing a misdemeanor in domestic violence court. The officer can either choose to represent himself at his arraignment of he can hire a Miami criminal attorney to represent him, at which point he will not have to appear in court for his initial appearance.

In all cases, as long as a victim appears in the domestic violence courthouse and fills out an affidavit in support of an injunction against domestic violence, a judge will sign a temporary injunction and the set the case for hearing at a future date. The temporary injunction will remain in place until the hearing is held. At the end of the hearing a judge will determine whether an injunction will be extended, put in place permanently or dismissed. Anyone served with notice to be at a hearing on an injunction has the right to retain criminal defense lawyer to represent his or her interests at the hearing. A petitioner, as well as a respondent has the right to present witnesses to testify at the hearing can also testify on his or her behalf.

A judge will extend or grant a permanent injunction if the petitioner can demonstrate that he or she has been the victim of two incidents of violence or stalking, one of the incidents having occurred within the last six months. Crimes of violence include assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping or false imprisonment. Stalking is defined as anyone who engages engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress. Stalking also requires a course of conduct composed of series of acts over a period of time. Stalking is a first degree misdemeanor, unless the respondent intentionally places the petitioner in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury, then the offense can be charged as a third degree felony. A person who commits a stalking after an injunction is in place can also be charged with a third degree felony.

Violations of injunctions, whether charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, are taken seriously by judge and prosecutors alike. Because this is the case, anyone served with a petition for an injunction against domestic violence for repeat violence, should seek to hire a Miami criminal defense law firm in defending these types of cases. If a permanent injunction is entered by the court, it becomes the permanent part of a person's criminal record and can never be sealed or expunged. If an injunction is entered by the court, the respondent will also be required to enroll and successfully complete a domestic violence intervention program lasting approximately 26 weeks. Another reason to contest the injunction is because any future violation of the injunction can subject a person to criminal prosecution under the laws of the State of Florida.

Miami-Dade Cop in Love Triangle Arrested in Miami Beach, The Miami Herald.com, September 30, 2010.

July 13, 2010

Jury Convicts Man for the Murder of His Wife

A jury convicted a former social worker's aide for the murder of his wife and the sexual battery of his step daughter in January 2005. Grady Nelson of Miami will face the death penalty for the first degree murder conviction for killing his wife. The defendant was also convicted of sexual battery and attempted first degree murder. The Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge that presided over the trial will also the preside over the sentencing hearing that will occur in a couple of months. The defendant's Miami criminal lawyers will most certainly file a mitigation packet before the sentencing hearing in an effort to stave off the state attorney's office bid for the death penalty. Prior to the sentencing hearing, a pre-sentence investigation report will be created for the sentencing hearing so that the judge and jurors will have a background report to determine whether the death penalty is appropriate.

The defense attorneys representing the defendant will have tough assignment in keeping Nelson from the death penalty. According to prosecutors, the victim was butchered when the defendant stabbed her 61 times. To make matters worse, her throat was slit and knife was found embedded in her head. Defense counsel argued that the defendant just happened upon the body and had nothing to do with the homicide. The sexual battery charges stemmed from the allegation that Nelson was having sex with the victim's mentally incapacitated 11 year-old daughter. The defendant has been previously been in custody for committing a sexual offense against the daughter 2005. The Miami-Dade County State Attorney's office eventually dropped the charges because it is reported that the victim gave inconsistent statements.

After the defendant was arrested for the sexual offense, a judge issued a domestic violence injunction. A domestic injunction is issued in family court by a civil county court judge. In criminal domestic violence cases, judges will issue a stay way order at the bond hearing. A stay away order is issued by a criminal court judge and requires that a defendant have no contact with the victim. An injunction is a separate court case that requires the petitioner to file a petition for issuance of the injunction . The judge will conduct a hearing to determine whether or not an injunction should be issued. If a defendant comes in contact with a defendant after the stay way order is issued, the judge may revoke the bail set at the initial bond hearing and hold the defendant in contempt of court. If an individual violates an injunction by coming in contact with the petitioner, that person can be charged with a second degree felony punishable up to fifteen years in prison.

The best evidence presented by the state at the trial was a taped recorded confession provided by the defendant. Without the confession, it would have been difficult for the state to prove its case. Despite the fact that the defense attorneys representing Nelson argued that the confession was coerced by law enforcement authorities, the twelve person jury agreed to convict him. As in previous articles, it cannot be stressed enough that anyone involved in an investigation should give not provide a statement to the police. In the majority of cases, the strongest piece of evidence that the prosecution present to a jury is a confession provided by the defendant. Always remember, that if you are placed under arrest you have a constitutional right to refuse to speak with law enforcement about your case.

Miami-Dade Jury Deciding Fate of Man Accused of Murdering Wife, The Miami Herald, July 10, 2010.

June 4, 2010

Dolphin Player Arrested on Domestic Violence Charges

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.

February 8, 2010

Former NFL Star Arrested on Miami Beach for Battery

Recent reports show that the economic woes this country is facing impact unemployment and consumer sentiment, but also the number of domestic violence cases reported in Miami and across the United States. Even those who are not suffering during the economic downturn get arrested for domestic violence. Those arrested for domestic violence are usually charged with assault, battery, aggravated assault and aggravated battery. The facts of each case determine what an individual is arrested for and ultimately charged with by the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office. Saturday night, Warren Sapp was arrested on Miami Beach for one count of misdemeanor battery. He was released on a $1,500 bond and appeared on local TV with his Miami criminal attorney.

Domestic violence cases differ from the run of the mill cocaine possession or fraud cases. When someone is arrested for a crime and booked into the Miami-Dade County jail, a bond is set depending on the monetary schedule set forth by each circuit court and the individual can immediately bond out of jail. Exceptions to this rule are serious violent offenses that carry potential sentences of life in prison and domestic violence cases. Certain violent and drug trafficking offenses are deemed non-bondable. Charges that are non-bondable include armed robbery, murder, and armed drug trafficking. Just because someone is charged with a non-bondable offense does not mean that a qualified Miami criminal defense attorney can not obtain a bond at a specially set hearing in front of a circuit court judge called an "Arthur Hearing".

Domestic violence charges carry a bond, however, the jail will place a domestic violence hold on those charged with this category of offense. Anyone arrested on a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence charge must appear before a judge before bond can be posted. At the bond hearing, a judge will release the hold only after a criminal stay way order has been issued. A stay away order is very similar to a civil domestic injunction against repeat violence. The stay away order is issued which prevents a defendant from having any contact with an alleged victim. The types of contact that are prohibited are direct contact, telephonic contact, or third-party contact. E-mails and text messages are also prohibited.

Any experienced defense lawyer with experience in domestic violence cases can appear before the presiding judge and have the stay away order modified. Of course, this can only occur with a consenting victim. If the victim consents, the judge can modify the stay away order to allow contact so long as it is not violent. A person's prior criminal history and history of domestic violence will also play a part in the judge's determination whether or not to modify a stay away order. Anyone charged in a domestic violence case should know that if the stay away order is violated, police officers can arrest you on site and return you back to the department of corrections. If the judge finds that a defendant arrested for domestic violence violated a stay way order, that person will most likely be held in custody until the case is resolved. If you or a loved one is arrested for domestic violence, immediately contact a Miami domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible to defend the charges. If the charges are dismissed the stay away order will be dissolved.

Ex-NFL Star Released from Florida Jail on Bond, The New York Times, February 8, 2010.

August 12, 2009

Former Miami Dolphin Lawrence Phillips Convicted in Domestic Violence Case

214089_buffalo_bills_football_1.jpgIn San Diego, California, former Miami Dolphin Lawrence Phillips was convicted of choking his girlfriend into a state of unconsciousness back in 2005. Phillips will be sentenced on September 8, 2009 by Judge Kerry Wells. Phillips can be sentenced up to 25 years in state prison. This domestic violence case demonstrates the need to hire a qualified Miami criminal defense attorney for representation in domestic violence matters.

A jury deliberated for several hours before returning the guilty verdict. The former NFL player was convicted of two counts of assault by force likely to cause serious bodily injury and for causing injury to a co-habitant or spouse. Other counts for which Phillips was convicted include false imprisonment, making a threat and grand theft of a motor vehicle. The counts stemmed from two separate domestic violence incidents.

The victim, Amaliya Weisler, testified that she was introduced to Phillips through a friend back in 2005. They began a relationship immediately afterward, and are in fact, still dating. On August 2, 2005, Phillips and Weisler became engaged in a verbal dispute regarding their sex life. Weisler put his clothes in a pile and requested that he leave the apartment. Phillips became enraged, slapped her across the face and put his hands around neck and choked her.

Two weeks later, on August 13, 2005, Weisler claimed that Phillips locked her in a bathroom and proceed to slap and choke her after he accused her of having sex with one of his friends. Weisler and Phillips then traveled to the friend's house. Once at the residence, Phillips kicked in his friend's front door. The residents of the home called the police. Phillips fled in Weisler's car. After the charges were filed, Phillips fled the jurisdiction and resided in Los Angeles, California.

While in Los Angeles, Phillips was convicted by a jury for attempting to drive his car into three juveniles. In 2006, Phillips was sentenced to 10 years in prison for that aggravated assault charge. Phillips has a long history of domestic violence, stemming back to his days at the University of Nebraska where he assaulted his college girlfriend and was suspended from the team. He pled no contest in that case and was placed on one year of reporting probation. Phillips refused to attend his latest trial and was convicted in absentia.

Former NFL RB Lawrence Phillips Convicted of Choking Girlfriend, SDNN.com, August 11, 2009.

August 7, 2009

Miami Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order Against Political Activist

Miami Judge Flora Seff entered a temporary injunction for protection against domestic violence against Patrick A. Pascuzzo, a political activist, barring him from having any contact with Homestead Councilwoman Judy Waldman. The judge entered the temporary injunction against Pascuzzo for posting a controversial video on a You Tube clip that showed a blonde woman holding a gun to her head. After the clip was shown, the video criticized Waldman for being involved in an election fraud conspiracy. Waldman took the video as a death threat and petitioned the court to issue the temporary injunction.

Anyone served with a notice to appear in court to respond to a temporary injunction for protection against domestic violence or against repeat violence should hire a Miami criminal lawyer to defend the injunction in civil court. If an injunction is granted by a judge, it will become part of your permanent record.

Under the temporary injunction issued by Judge, Seff, Pascuzzo cannot come within 500 feet of Waldman's home, office or Homestead City Hall. He is also prohibited from sending e-mails, sending text messages, calling or posting any videos about Waldman. He is also required to undergo mental health counseling and treatment if needed. The injunction will remain in place until January 7, 2010 when Waldman can petition the court for an extension of the temporary injunction.

The Miami-Dade County State Attorneys' Office investigated the allegations against Pascuzzo, but have not filed any criminal charges to date. After Pascuzzo released the video, he sent an e-mail to law enforcement, the Miami-Dade County States Attorney's Office, the FBI, the U.S. Justice Department and the media claiming that Waldman was involved in an election fraud conspiracy in Homestead, Florida. The accusations made by Pascuzzo against Waldman stem from an ongoing dispute over the appearance of a confederate flag at the Veteran's Day parade last year.

As a result of flag's appearance, tensions rose after the city counsel decided to create a new community relations board and disband the old one. Pascuzzo has proclaimed that Waldman and other Homestead politicians used the flag dispute against incumbents in the past November election. Waldman has denied involvement in any election fraud conspiracy.

Man Ordered to Stop Harrassing Homestead Councilwoman, Miami Herald, August 5, 2009