Junior Seau, a former Miami Dolphins player, was arrested last night at around 3:00 a.m. for domestic violence related charges. According to news reports, the alleged victim was Seau’s live in girlfriend.
Seau was released from jail around 5:00 a.m. after he posted bond. In Florida, a bond hearing on a domestic violence charge would not have been posted so quickly. At least in Fort Lauderdale (Broward County), a person arrested for a domestic violence charge would have to go before a magistrate judge where bond would be considered. These hearings are not held at least until 9:00 a.m. the next morning.
In Seau’s case, bond was posted after only a couple hours in jail.
In Fort Lauderdale domestic violence cases, a magistrate judge is primarily concerned about the safety of the alleged victim. In every case, unless the victim specifically requests otherwise, every domestic violence bond includes an order of no victim contact.
Again, the judge’s primary concern is victim safety.
When setting the financial aspect of the bond, a magistrate judge in Fort Lauderdale will first consider the nature of the allegation pending against the defendant. Is the accusation a felony or a misdemeanor? Was the victim injured? If so, how seriously? Was a weapon used? If so, was it a gun?
Next, the judge will consider any prior criminal history, especially domestic violence related offenses concerning the same victim.
Put simply, the more serious the case and the worse the defendant’s criminal history, the higher bond will be. In some cases, a judge will also order the defendant to wear an electronic monitor.
Anyway, getting back to Junior Seau, it is reported that he was taken to the hospital after authorities discovered his Cadillac Escalade crashed on the beach over a cliff in California. Seau is not believed to have suffered any life threatening injuries at this time.
Insofar as the domestic violence charge is concerned, the alleged victim, Seau’s live in girlfriend, did not suffer any injuries that required medical attention. According to news reports, Seau was charged with felony spousal assault.
In Florida, assault charges are only misdemeanor, unless a deadly weapon was used. This is true even if the person is charged with domestic violence related assault.
In any event, Seau would be best served by hiring the best criminal defense lawyer he can find. Ideally, the best lawyer would be local to the area where he was arrested and would be a regular face in the local courthouse. As a former domestic violence prosecutor myself, I can tell you that the understanding a criminal defense lawyer gets from working on the other side is indispensable. This is especially true when it comes to domestic violence cases that are very focused on the needs and protection of alleged victims.
In domestic violence cases, criminal defense lawyers analyze the claim made by the victim with extreme scrutiny. In many cases, claims of domestic violence abuse are exaggerated or even made up. In other cases, the claims are very real and very accurate. As a criminal defense lawyer, my job is to challenge a victim’s claims to make sure they are telling the truth. Just because a person is labeled “victim” does not mean their testimony should be believed at face value, especially when the accused is facing time in jail or prison.
Don’t get me wrong, if the evidence supports a conviction, there is little any lawyer can do. Lawyers aren’t magicians… they can’t do the impossible. What they can do is force the prosecutors to prove their case. When it comes to domestic violence, prosecutions are won and lost on the credibility of the alleged victims.