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MMA Fighter Fernando Rodrigues Arrested in Fort Lauderdale in Alleged Road Rage Incident

Fernando Rodrigues was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida after he allegedly attacked Michael Caccavella and Juan Uribe following a road rage incident. The mixed martial arts fighter, who specializes in Brazilian jujitsu, was charged with one count each of burglary, assault with a firearm and using a deadly weapon (his hands and feet). Rodrigues remains incarcerated at Broward County Jail following the incident, as he was denied bail bond after an initial hearing Tuesday.

According to the arrest report, the incident occurred on Monday afternoon in Coral Springs along North State Road 7. The victims told police that they were stopped at a red light and did not go immediately when it turned green. Rodrigues, who was behind Caccavella’s truck in a Hummer, allegedly started tailgating Caccavella and drving dangerously after Caccavella started driving. Caccavella told police that when he tried to switch lanes to avoid Rodrigues, Rodrigues yelled obscenities at him and pointed a gun at him.

At this point, Caccavella says, he pulled his vehicle over so he could call 911. Rodrigues allegedly followed suit, got out of his car and approached 54-year-old Caccavella, a pool service business owner, and his 25-year-old assistant Juan Uribe as they sat in their car. Uribe, Caccavella says, got out of the car to try to remedy the situation. Rodrigues then allegedly attacked Uribe, knocked him to the ground, pistol-whipped him in the face and put him in a wrestling hold. “He was a big guy. I didn’t want any part of him,” Uribe told the press following the incident. “I don’t remember much after he hit me.”

Caccavella tried to help Uribe but got punched in the face instead. He had a hand gun on him for self-protection, which he pulled at this point with the intent of saving his assistant. “I was ready to shoot him and do everyone on Earth a favor. I pulled the trigger, but realized I didn’t have one in the chamber,” Caccavella told the press. “This could’ve ended really bad for everyone.”

Just as Caccavella pulled a blank, police arrived on scene. Everyone involved in the altercation was initially handcuffed and brought in for questioning, though Caccavella and Uribe were released soon after and do not face charges. It appears that 31-year-old Rodrigues cooperated with arresting officers. At the time of the arrest, Caccavella had a gash on his face and a black eye, while Uribe sustained fractures in his left eye socket. Rodrigues appeared to be unharmed.

Rodrigues owns a mixed martial arts training facility called America Top Team, located in Aventura. He has served two tours in Iraq as a Marine and is a competitive fighter. State Attorneys classified his hands and feet as deadly weapons, barring him from receiving bond in a Tuesday hearing. Police do not currently that drugs or a DUI were factors in the incident. It is not currently clear why Rodrigues got so angry about the red light.

LEGAL ANALYSIS

As outrageous as Rodrigues’ behavior may have been, as violent as he allegedly acted, and as inexcusable as exiting his car to pistol whip someone is, it is absolutely absurd to categorize his hands as deadly weapons.

Are you telling me this guy can’t walk in an airport with his hands? Are you saying he’s not allowed to enter the courthouse to deal with his case? What did they do when he got to the jail? Keep him handcuffed 24/7?

I doubt it.

The legal argument that his hands were deadly weapons absolutely has no merit whatsoever.

However silly that allegation may be, Rodrigues has serious problems with this case. There is no doubt that he will be charged with Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, which cares a 3 year minimum mandatory prison sentence.

As the alleged aggressor who exited his vehicle and walked up to the other driver for a confrontation, a self-defense strategy will not work.

While a full analysis of the case facts is required, my instinct tells me that this is a case where mitigation is the best approach.

As an MMA fighter and combat Marine, Rodrigues will have a hard time convincing any jury that he is not culpable here.

Unless of course there is information presently unknown about this case.

In a case like this, brains will persevere over braun. To come out on top, this means Rodrigues needs to start taking responsibility for his actions and taking a serious “mea culpa” tone.

From there, it will be up to his attorneys to negotiate a plea bargain. By taking the right approach, it may be possible to reduce time spent in prison, or in the very best scenario trade a quilty plea for a waiver of the minimum mandatory sentence.

With his impressive service record, as well as the charitable work I am sure he has done with his MMA school, I would think such an outcome is possible, although not guaranteed.

The victims’ wishes in this case will likely be the variable that makes the difference.

At this point, the first course of action Rodrigues must take is making the alleged victims whole. Whatever out of pocket expenses they have will need to be paid immediately.

Unlike MMA bouts, winning in a criminal courtroom sometimes means taking an acceptable loss to avoid a big one. An early assessment about win probabilities at trial will make the difference between a catastrophic loss and one that is survivable.

As tough as Rodrigues may be, I doubt he wants to waste his time in prison for the next 10-15 years… which given the outrageous conduct exhibited in this case would be a likely outcome if he was found guilty at trial.

If Rodrgues is smart, he will hire a criminal defense lawyer who knows how to accurately assess a winning case from a loser. Having the guts to explain the real facts of life to a client is a skill that not all lawyers have.

Like doctors, lawyers are hired to tell their clients the good news as well as the bad. Sugar coating the truth helps no-one.

In the end, I hope justice is served for all those involved.

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