It's football season again. Fall usually brings fans in Georgia and in states across the nation together to cheer for their favorite team. However, plays off the field are making bigger headlines than the moves on the field. After the release of an elevator altercation, Ray Rice now faces a lifetime ban from the game of football and a firestorm of public controversy.
A fight with his then fiancé Janay Palmer, left Palmer knocked out on the floor of a casino elevator. After a grand jury delivered a felony indictment, the New Jersey prosecutors gave Rice the opportunity to enroll in pretrial intervention. As a first time offender with no prior charges, he was allowed to undergo counseling in lieu of pleading to any charges. The two married shortly after his indictment.
Pretrial interventions such as this one are offered at the discretion of the prosecutor on the case. Programs such as this one are designed to help law-abiding citizens avoid a harmful record and jail term. The use of this legal tool is often controversial in light of the serious issues surrounding domestic violence.
Ben Barlyn, former executive director of the New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing, defends pretrial intervention as a means of helping men and women who may have acted inappropriately in a situation. However, he does not believe this should have been applied in this situation. In Barlyn's opinion the victim's testimony was not needed to prove the case because of the existence of the video.
Domestic violence is a serious issue for anyone that is involved. Charges brought against a private citizen or a public figure can severely damage a reputation. Competent legal counsel can make a big difference in the outcome of a case. Those seeking to make a defense against the charge they face should become knowledgeable about their situation and their defense options. This could help them reduce or dismiss the charges against them.
Source: nytimes.com, "What Were They Thinking? Ugly Video, Blind Justice," Michael Powel, Sep. 13, 2014