Articles Posted in Self Defense

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18 year old Bradenton, Florida man Charles Ross was arrested on Sunday in Manatee County, Florida on battery allegations for allegedly giving numerous movie goers “wedgies.” Allegedly Ross owns and operates a You Tube page where he posts video of himself performing pranks on random strangers. From this report, Ross’ MO is to have a friend video him in public arenas approaching random people or their property and taking action that isn’t necessarily considered to be accepted in the public eye. In this particular situation Manatee County deputies report that Ross would walk up behind a person and grab the back of their pants and then pull them up high, causing pain or discomfort, all while videotaping the encounter. Clearly, the glaring difference between this prank and prior pranks is the visit to the Manatee County Jail.

At first blush Ross’ actions appear to be harmless pranks pulled by an immature kid seeking attention and some form of minor fame via You Tube. When considered and reviewed by a Tampa criminal attorney it appears the Manatee County authorities and Ross’ victims felt this harmless prank may have borne some harm, thereby leading to battery charges. A battery charge in Florida is codified under Florida Statute 784.03. To sustain a charge for simple battery against Ross, the Manatee County State Attorney’s Office must prove that Ross actually and intentionally touched another person against their will OR that Ross intentionally caused harm to another person. Assuming Ross has no prior record he would be looking at a first degree misdemeanor count for every person he blessed with a wedgie, each count punishable by up to 11 months, 29 days in the Manatee County Jail and a $1,000 fine payable to the great State of Florida. I believe it would be difficult to find a Tampa criminal attorney who would say with a straight face that Ross really intended to hurt anyone. With that consideration, the Manatee State Attorney’s Office would have to pursue this case under the theory that Ross intentionally touched each victim against their will. Considering the likelihood of numerous witnesses coming forward and video evidence of the alleged crimes, should the State pursue these charges it appears the case is open and shut in favor of the State.
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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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A criminal court in the Czech Republic indicted “Lamb of God” lead singer Randy Blythe for their country’s version of manslaughter, or causing bodily harm to another person with lethal consequences. The 41 year old Blythe is accused of pushing a fan from the Lamb of God stage during a 2007 concert. As a result of the push the fan hit his head on a concrete floor below causing his death two weeks later. Under Czech speedy trial rules, Blythe’s trial date must be set within 3 months presumably from indictment. If convicted, Blythe will face between five and ten years in prison.

Just about every media outlet describes the incident as one where Lamb of God was performing on stage and due to either lax venue security, insufficient barricading, or both, this fan was able to trespass onto the band’s stage. Once the fan accessed the stage he proceeded swiftly toward Blythe who reacted and pushed him away. The unfortunate consequence of death resulted from the push.

So we know someone died and someone else has been accused of causing that death in a fashion not premeditated. Will the charges stick and should they? Generally a “manslaughter” charge is very similar state to state and in most civilized countries not using some type of religiously fanatical court. In its most stripped down form it is the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of someone else, without lawful justification according to the justifiable use of force statute and in cases in which such killing should not be excusable homicide or murder. The Florida manslaughter statute is codified at 782.07 if you’d like to take a further look. Manslaughter without any type of aggravating factor is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The key portion of the statute to focus on is the language “without lawful justification.” Obviously the killing of another without a reason is illegal. However, if someone appears ready to inflict some type of physical harm upon you, you have a right to defend yourself. Stated differently, you have lawful justification. Blythe’s case will rise and fall on whether the trier of fact believes his assertion of self defense is justified.
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