Could Myles Garrett be Arrested for Aggravated Assault or Battery?
By now, almost everyone in the country has seen the video of Browns’ defensive end Myles Garrett hitting Steelers’ quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with a helmet. While viewers at home stared wide-eyed and in shock at their T.V. screens, we began thinking about what the legal consequences of his actions would be.
Since Garret physically caused harm to Rudolph, he could possibly be charged with assault. Garret’s use of a helmet could be considered a deadly weapon, which could amp up the charge to aggravated assault. However, one may argue that this was just the spirit of the game. Football is a rough, contact sport, and this mentality could have led to Garret’s actions. While the prosecutors of the area have the task of answering all of these questions, we have insider knowledge about how assault and battery are charged in South Florida and what to do when it happens.
Misdemeanor Assault Charges in Fort Lauderdale
Misdemeanor, or simple, assault is defined as an intentional threat of violence to another person, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, that creates a reasonable fear in such the other person believes the violence is immediate. Someone can be charged with simple assault even if they do not physically come in contact with the person, as long as the threat is justifiably fearful. Simple assault is a Second Degree Misdemeanor and can result in a sentence of up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation, and a $500 fine.
Felony, or aggravated, assault, occurs when either a person commits another felony at the same time or uses a deadly weapon. This also must create enough fear within the person being threatened that the aggressor is reasonably charged. Aggravated assault is a Third Degree Felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.
Misdemeanor Battery Charges in Fort Lauderdale
Misdemeanor, or simple, battery is the actual commission of the violent act. This does not matter if the attack was successful, only that the aggressor came into contact with another person. When defending battery cases, it is imperative to prove intent, as it is required under state law. It is also important to prove that the action violated the victim’s consent. Simple battery is a First Degree Misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in jail or a year of probation.
Felony Battery Charges in Fort Lauderdale
Felony battery, is an intentional act of violence that causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement. Felony Battery is a Third Degree Felony and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison or on probation and up to $5,000 in fines.
Aggravated Battery Charges in Fort Lauderdale
Aggravated battery is an intentional act of violence where a deadly weapon was used. Aggravated Battery is a Second Degree Felony and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison or probation and up to $10,000 in fines.
What Is Considered a Deadly Weapon?
According to Florida law, a deadly weapon is anything used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm. This definition, however, is incredibly vague and often varies on a case per case basis. This normally includes guns, knives, and other heavy objects that would leave more than a bruise when used against another person.
When looking at Garret’s actions, it is unclear as to whether or not his helmet counts as a deadly weapon. While a helmet is intended to protect a person from harm, it did the opposite as it was the medium of damage. Even though a helmet is not commonly considered a deadly weapon, it may take the form of one when used to harm another person and leaves more than just bruises.
How We Defend Assault and Battery Charges
To defend assault cases, we use the three defenses of a conditional threat, idle threat, and reasonable fear. A statement about committing a violent act that is extremely vague and does not specify a single person, place, or time constitutes a conditional threat. A statement that does not provide any physical evidence that a person will actually act on their beliefs is considered an idle threat. And finally, a statement that is not serious and does not actually cause a person to feel in danger does not constitute reasonable fear. If one of these requirements is not met on the case, we use it to help prove a client’s innocence in court.
To defend battery cases, we attack the prosecutor's ability to prove the intent of the defendant. There must be an intentional interaction between the victim and defendant to constitute a battery, where the defendant specifically meant to cause harm. Accidental touching, however, would not be charged as a battery. If our client had no goal of harming the victim, then we can use their lack of intent to help prove their innocence in court.
Another defense that we use for assault and battery cases is self defense. Self defense is used when the defendant has a reasonable belief that they would be harmed or were in imminent danger at the time of the attack. One statute that is commonly used to prove self defense is Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. This says that a person is able to use any reasonable force in self defense, whether or not they were able to retreat to their home or dwelling. If the defendant is already in their home, then there is the assumption that the person entering has the intent to do harm and that self defense should be justified.
Similarly, we rely on the victim in cases of assault and battery. If a victim does not want to press charges or knows that they instigated the fight, we may have them sign a waiver of prosecution. This helps us show the court that the victim does not want our client to be prosecuted and often that they were just at fault for the incident. If the case goes to trial, the victim may testify on our client’s behalf, depending upon whether or not it would help the case.
Comparatively, we use the defense of an assumption of risk during assault and battery charges. An assumption of risk is used when we can prove that the victim knew of the possible damages before engaging in the activity. This defense relates specifically to Garret’s case. One could argue that people are bound to get hurt while playing football and that Rudolph should have known this risk before signing up to play. It could also be argued, however, that the game only extends so far and that being hit with a helmet is not in the playbook. For us here at the Rossen Law Firm, proving the assumption of risk in an assault or battery case helps us to prove our client’s innocence.
How the Rossen Law Firm Has Won Cases of Battery in South Florida
Kimberly was at a family gathering when her cousin became very drunk. He began to bad mouth Kimberly’s family, saying that her uncle was having an affair. Kimberly heard chaos downstairs and rushed back to find her cousin attacking her elderly father. Kimberly stepped in to try to protect her father and hit her cousin on the head with a glass cup she previously had in her hand. The police arrived on the scene amid calls of a disturbance and arrest Kimberly for aggravated battery. Kimberly was a college student on vacation and was worried that she would have to spend up to 15 years in prison. Living in Connecticut, Kimberly did not know how she would be able to constantly show up to court. We knew that Kimberly was trying to protect her father, so we worked to prove to the prosecutor that she was acting in defense. To do so we filed a stand your ground motion, saying that Kimberly was in genuine fear of her and her father’s life when her cousin attacked them. The judge granted our stand your ground motion and we were able to get Kimberly’s record expunged.
David was already on probation in a juvenile justice facility. He was a gentle giant who was not difficult unless provoked. In the juvenile facility, the guards were messing with him and he went off on them. In the cafeteria, he threw food at them and hit one of them with his lunch tray. David was charged with a felony. David was still a minor and met the requirements for the diversion program. We fought with the prosecution to get him into the program. We were able to get David into the diversion program. He completed all the requirements and his case was dismissed.
How the Rossen Law Firm Has Won Cases of Aggravated Assault in South Florida
Chavez is a family man who lived with and financially supported both his mother and his stepfather. Chavez had a horrible relationship with his stepfather, who was unappreciative and combative. One day when Chavez stepped outside the house, many of the cars out front (he is a car broker) had been vandalized, their tires slashed and windows were broken. Chavez knew his stepfather was the cause of the vandalism and told him to pack his things and move out. Chavez then went inside the house and called the police to report the vandalism. When the police arrived they arrested Chavez for aggravated assault with a firearm. His stepfather had told the police that Chavez threatened his life and pointed a gun at him. The stepfather was lying and the police did a terrible investigation. There was no gun found at the scene, or in the vehicles. We also interviewed two independent witnesses who confirmed that at no time was Chavez holding a gun. These witnesses were on scene when the police arrived but never questioned by them. We convinced the prosecutor that there was not enough evidence to prove aggravated assault. The charges against Chavez were dropped within one month.
Armando was pulling into a gas station and came very close to hitting another vehicle that was not in its lane. He had heated words with the driver and then parked his car to go into the convenience store. The two men in the vehicle he almost hit parked, exited their car and started walking over towards Armando cursing and making threatening gestures. Outnumbered, Armando felt threatened and holstered his gun to his hip. (He had a concealed weapon permit for the gun). He had a few more words with the men and then went into the convenience store to order food. As he was waiting for his food inside the store, a cop came in and approached Armando. The two men outside told the cop that Armando had waived the gun at them. He was handcuffed and taken directly to jail and booked. Our firm was able to convince the prosecutor that Armando was acting in lawful self-defense under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. The case was dismissed within 30 days, and Armando’s gun was returned to him.
What to do if Arrested for Assault or Battery in South Florida
If you are arrested for assault or battery, you should always be calm and polite to the police. You have the right not to say anything to them, and you should not feel pressured into admitting guilt. Most importantly, you should hire a trained Criminal Defense Attorney like the Rossen Law Firm to help represent your case.