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.
If the second report is correct and Jones grabbed his wife by her neck, should the State be able to prove some type of strangulation, the game is changed drastically. In a domestic battery by strangulation situation there must be proof of the same elements as a simple domestic battery but the necessary touching involves an impediment of the normal breathing or circulation of Jones’ wife so as to create a risk of or cause great bodily harm by applying pressure on the throat or neck of his wife by blocking the nose or mouth. Simply grabbing the neck is not enough to prove this charge and a good Tampa criminal lawyer could likely win on this accusation. Short of being able to show that there was an impediment of air or blood, the State wouldn’t have much to go on. If the State could make their case against Jones under Florida Statute 784.041, he would be facing a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5000 fine.
Regardless of what the charge would be, Florida takes domestic violence charges extremely seriously. The State Attorney has complete discretion of whether to pursue an allegation and even if the victim elects not to go forward, the State does not have to abide by their wishes. If an individual is convicted of domestic violence in Florida he or she will never be able to remove that conviction from their record per Florida Statute 907.041 and will have to deal with it in perpetuity. That’s not something one will want to explain to every potential employer.
Jason Mayberry is a Federal and State criminal lawyer and medical malpractice lawyer with offices in Tampa and Clearwater. If you are in need of a Tampa criminal attorney, contact our office at 813-444-7435 or 727-771-3847.