Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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Local Tampa man, Cort Allenbrand has been arrested on arson charges after authorities allege that he set his girlfriend’s house on fire in Seffner, Florida early Wednesday morning. Hillsborough County Fire and Rescue authorities claim Cort Allenbrand went to his ex-girlfriend’s home early this morning with fire accelerant and lit a fire near the back of the residence. Before the fire could engulf the house and cause major damage a nearby neighbor was able to put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher. Police say Allenbrand was able to flee the scene but was arrested a few hours later at 3:30AM and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail. As it stands now, police are recommending to the State Attorney’s Office that he be charged with the first degree felony version of arson due to the subject matter of the arson being considered a dwelling. In Florida, arson of a dwelling is a first degree felony regardless of whether it is occupied.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Allenbrand or whoever started this fire had an axe to grind in some way, shape, or form against his ex-girlfriend or her mother. In my experience as a Tampa criminal attorney, arson is a crime committed by a kid, is committed by someone trying to cover something up, or as I believe in this case, is committed by someone who is angry with someone else. What most arsonists don’t take into consideration is just how seriously Florida police agencies and State Attorney’s Offices take an allegation of arson.

Arson is codified under Florida Statute 806.01. Defined, arson occurs when one willfully and unlawfully, or while in the commission of any felony, by fire or explosion, damages or causes to be damaged any dwelling occupied or not, or its contents or any structure or its contents, where people are normally present. Examples of places covered under this Statute could be: jails, prisons, or detention centers; hospitals, nursing homes, or other health care facilities; department stores, office buildings, business establishments, churches, or educational institutions during normal hours of occupancy; or other similar structures; or any other structure that the individual knew or had reasonable grounds to believe was occupied by a someone. Complete this magic circle of fun and you’ll be staring down the barrel of first degree felony, first degree arson punishable by up to 30 years in the Florida Department of Corrections and a $10,000 fine.
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Vero Beach, Florida gentleman Robert Briley was charged with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon on December 16, 2012 after allegedly swinging a baseball bat at his best friend. It’s reported that Briley continuously requested his wife and friend over the course of the day to engage in a sexual liaison known as a threesome. Specifically, it is noted that Briley was interested in watching his wife perform oral sex on his friend and also wanted his friend to touch Mrs. Briley’s undercarriage. After being denied repeatedly by his friend, Briley continued in his quest until his friend agreed to take Briley’s wife privately into the bedroom for a little one on one. Evidently this crossed the line, albeit a blurry one, resulting with Briley swinging his bat in the general direction of his friend’s face, thereby prompting police intervention. Ultimately the police showed up, interviewed the involved parties, and chose to take Briley to jail for Aggravated Assault. When interviewed, Mrs. Briley told police that Briley and friend had been drinking all day prior to the incident. Surprise, surprise. Briley admitted to the drinking but denied using his bat.

If the facts of this odd, yet awesome scenario are to be believed, Mr. Briley is facing a pretty serious charge. Florida Statute 784.021 governs the applicable charge of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Defined, an Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent all while using an item that can be classified as a deadly weapon. Depending on which “bat” this report is referring to will determine whether an Aggravated Assault charge will stick. Well maybe… Assuming Briley had a baseball bat and went after one or more of remaining ménage a trois partiers while swinging, there could most definitely be an Aggravated Assault charge levied. It seems he had an item that would satisfy the “deadly weapon” element to the charge and generally a drunken, enraged man wielding such bat would qualify him for a general assault charge. Add those together and you have the recipe for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon.
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Jennie Scott, 50, of Manatee County was arrested after allegedly beating her 32 year old boyfriend after a sexual encounter didn’t go the way she had hoped. After an unsuccessful effort on the part of Scott’s boyfriend Jilberto Deleon to perform joint oral sex to her satisfaction, it is claimed Scott became enraged and proceeded to hit and scratch Deleon coupling the physical abuse with threats of further beating by way of a wrench and stick. It’s reported that Deleon finished his business a bit prematurely for the drunken Scott’s liking, causing him to quit his dutiful efforts and leaving Scott unfulfilled.

Scott was arrested on December 27th by Manatee County authorities and booked initially on charges of domestic battery. She subsequently was taken back into custody after violating at least one of the conditions of her pretrial release where she remains without a bond. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the threat of a beating with a wrench, simple domestic battery could be an afterthought for Scott. Should the State have enough, they could make a case for third degree felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The Manatee County State Attorney’s Office will very likely at minimum pick up the domestic battery charge against Scott. In Florida, simple domestic battery is a first degree misdemeanor with the maximum penalty being 11 months, 29 days in jail in addition to a $1,000 fine. To make their proof, the State will have to show that there has been a battery under Florida Statute 784.03 defined as a striking of another person against their will or that an individual has caused another individual harm and such battery was between two family members or two household members per Florida Statute 741.28(2).

From a practical standpoint, domestic battery cases are some of the most difficult cases for the State to prove if for no other reason but because of the characters involved. In my experience about 75% of the time (maybe higher) the alleged victim declines to cooperate and expresses a desire for the State to drop the case. If this happens, the State can move forward regardless of the victim’s wishes but it makes it extremely difficult to convict when your best witness won’t play ball.
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Former Atlanta Braves superstar Andruw Jones was arrested on Christmas day by police in Gwinnett County Georgia, accused of domestic battery against his wife, Nicole Jones. Nicole Jones is said to have told officers that when she asked her husband to help prepare their house for Christmas morning, the battery ensued. During the scuffle Jones claims she tried to escape up the stairs but was caught by Andruw Jones who drug her down the stairs by her ankle. Upon catching his wife, it is alleged Andruw Jones got on top of her and said, “I want to kill you.” Other reports indicate Andruw Jones grabbed his wife by her neck.

Unfortunately domestic battery is an all too frequent occurrence in our country whether it is a founded account or a false accusation. Regardless of the State authorities always take allegations of this nature seriously and generally an arrest is made. Depending on which news report mentioned above is more accurate as to what actually happened, Jones could be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor were this incident in Florida.

For purposes of simple domestic battery in Florida, all one really need to look at is whether there has been a battery committed against a family or household member by another family or household member. This is found in Florida Statute 741.28(2) under the “domestic violence” definition. For a simple battery to occur under Florida Statute 784.03, the State must show that there has been an actual and intentional touching or striking of another person against their will or that someone has caused someone else bodily harm. So, in short, take the battery elements listed and make a finding that the participants were, as in this case, family members, and you have a domestic violence situation in Florida punishable as a first degree misdemeanor.
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15 year old Lakeland, Florida girl, Cassidy Goodson avoided life imprisonment and a first degree murder charge this week by accepting a reduced plea offer of manslaughter. In accepting the plea offer Goodson will face a sentence of at least 18 months in a juvenile state facility. Goodson was arrested in September after giving birth to a 9.5 pound baby boy. Apparently Goodson’s parents knew nothing of the pregnancy and Goodson was able to have the child in a bathroom of her parents’ home. Upon giving birth Goodson told police that she then strangled her son and put him in a shoebox to further conceal the incident. Ultimately Goodson’s mother found the deceased infant in some laundry and called local authorities.

When questioned by police Goodson described the scene in that she turned on the bathroom water to cover any noise of the birth and delivered the infant into a toilet, checked for a pulse, and ultimately proceeded to asphyxiate the child. An autopsy performed on the infant confirmed the cause of death.

Originally when Cassidy Goodson was arrested there was an intent, at least facially, by the Polk County State Attorney’s Office to charge her with first degree murder as an adult, while seeking life imprisonment. This in fact was the case up and until Goodson’s criminal defense attorney was able to negotiate a plea deal reducing the charge to manslaughter and allowing her child client to serve a sentence as a minor. Though manslaughter is an extremely serious charge, this is a very good deal for Goodson and both the prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer should be commended for their hard work.
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I’ll give you one guess. No, it’s not Warren Sapp! Former moonlighting Tight End Jerramy Stevens was arrested, yet again. Stevens, who has a lengthy history of legal snafus was arrested in Kirkland, Washington on Monday November 12th for Fourth Degree Domestic Violence upon his US soccer star fiancé Hope Solo.

According to a police report the happy couple were arguing over whether they would live in Washington or Florida. Police responded to a disturbance at around 3:45AM involving approximately 8 people. Upon arrival Police interviewed several of those people who proved to be uncooperative. Police later observed a scratch on Solo’s arm and found Stevens upstairs in the residence hiding between a bed and a wall. No doubt Stevens is a candidate for the “alibi of the year” award for his excuse that he was simply upstairs napping and slept right through the scuffle downstairs. Naturally, Police weren’t buying what Stevens was selling based on the blood on his shirt, his later admission that he argued with Solo, the injury to her elbow, and the fact that the room he was “napping” in looked as if there was a recent slap fight within. Consequently Stevens was arrested. A judge who didn’t feel there was enough evidence connecting him to an assault, later released Stevens.

Fourth degree domestic violence in Washington appears to be their least serious misdemeanor and comparable to a domestic battery charge in Florida. Were this classy encounter to have occurred in Florida, Stevens would have been arrested for domestic battery. In Florida, domestic battery is nothing more than a battery occurring between those who are family or live or have lived in the same household. A battery occurs when one intentionally touches or hits another, against the will of the other or intentionally causes bodily harm to another. In Stevens and Solo’s case if Stevens touched her against her will or tried to cause the injury to her arm, his actions would satisfy the elements of a Florida domestic violence charge.

As any decent Tampa criminal lawyer will tell you, just because elements can be met in a domestic battery case that doesn’t mean the charge will stand. Practically speaking, because Solo appeared at Stevens’ first appearance and remained silent, she no doubt does not want to go forward on these charges. Uncooperative victims are the largest obstacles for a State Attorney prosecuting a domestic battery case. There is no way the State will be able to prove without testimony of Solo or others at the party, that Stevens 1) touched her against her will or 2) intentionally caused her injury. Further, there is no way to prove he touched her at all considering the scuffle involved 8 people.
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Former WNBA superstar Chamique Holdsclaw turned herself into the Atlanta Fulton County Jail Thursday night after a warrant was issued for her arrest. Holdsclaw is accused of committing an Aggravated Assault, causing Criminal Damage to Property of another, in addition to Reckless Conduct. Holdsclaw, a former All-American for the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers and a perennial WNBA All-Star, is accused of bashing out the windows of her ex-girlfriend’s SUV and shooting a 9MM handgun through the back driver’s side window and into the back passenger door.

Victim and ex-girlfriend Jennifer Lacy told police that Holdsclaw showed up to one of her workouts and asked for her keys to put something in her car. When Lacy got in her vehicle she was alerted by the smell of gasoline and noticed Holdsclaw following her. Lacy then went to a friend’s house only to be followed by Holdsclaw. Upon arrival at the house Holdsclaw became enraged and the above mentioned incident occurred while Lacy was still in the driver’s seat of her vehicle.

Regardless of State, any Tampa criminal lawyer will tell you that when a firearm is present or discharged during the commission of a crime, the situation gets serious in a hurry! Were this incident to have occurred in Florida, I believe Holdsclaw would be facing Aggravated Assault with a Firearm charges, amongst others. Simple assault is a threat, either through words or actions, to do violence to another person while having the apparent ability to do so, and doing an overt act that creates a well founded fear in the victim that violence is imminent. An aggravated assault is an assault when using a deadly weapon, in this case a handgun. Florida and Federal law takes crimes of this nature very seriously. In Florida, Holdsclaw would be facing a minimum mandatory 20 year prison term per Florida Statute 775.087(2)(a)(2) due to discharging the firearm in the commission of the aggravated assault. Without a charge reduction negotiated between a criminal defense attorney and Prosecutor, both the Prosecutor and Judge are bound by statute to a sentence of at least 20 years.
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