Baltimore Ravens Star Rice Indicted One Day, Marries Victim of the Charged Crime Very Next Day

NFL running back Ray Rice was indicted last week in New Jersey for aggravated assault against his fiancee, Janay Palmer.  Parts of the domestic violence episode were captured on security cameras at the Revel Casino and Hotel, located in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Rice can been seen on one video dragging the unconscious Palmer by her arms out of an elevator.  Rice was charged with a third degree felony which could carry a three to five year sentence.  Ms. Palmer was also arrested for simple assault with prosecutors later deciding to drop that charge.  Rice married the victim in the case the day after the indictment on felony charges.  Rice signed a five year $35 million contract with his team prior to the 2012 season.  The couple is together, happy and in counseling according to The Press of Atlantic City after the paper spoke to Mr. Rice’s attorney. It is also reported that the victim, the new Mrs. Rice, does not wish to pursue the prosecution of her husband.

Spousal Privilege, Can She Be Forced To Testify?

The now happily married Mrs. Rice may or may not have to testify against her husband.  Many women in these type of domestic situations decide to be reluctant, recalcitrant, defiant witnesses for the prosecution to manage. Also, in the majority of states, a crime involving a victim is heavily victim-driven in the prosecutor’s office, with the victim’s desire for prosecution or lack of any interest in further prosecution weighing in on the prosecutor’s discretion to proceed or just drop the case.   Certain legal analysts, such as Lester Munson of ESPN, have stated that Mrs. Rice could claim spousal immunity, meaning a spouse can’t be forced to testify against the other spouse.  She could claim it but that does not guaranty it would be granted.  Although this is a New Jersey case, many states have similar evidence codes. Under Florida Statute 90.504(1), either spouse may claim a spousal privilege to communications  intended to be made in confidence between the spouses while they were husband and wife.  Additionally under Statute 90.504(3) (b), there is no spousal privilege during a criminal proceeding where one spouse is charged with a crime, committed at any time,  against the other spouse.   Under Florida’s laws Mrs. Rice could be forced to testify. If the prosecutor can prove the case without her through videos or other witnesses, they may take that route.

Domestic Violence and the Reluctant Victim

In the majority of domestic violence and aggravated assault cases, the victim has called 911.  The 911 recordings are admitted as evidence.  When the victim later decides not to prosecute his or her attacker these 911 recordings will sometimes surface. When the victim later calmly  tells the prosecutor or a victim’s advocate that “nothing happened” or it was “just a misunderstanding”  the recording usually contradicts the statements of the victim.  Prosecutors are aware also that victims will try to drop cases as part of the reality of their home situation.  Victims commonly drop cases and put themselves right back in harm’s way because the recently arrested happens to be the breadwinner of the household.  Domestic violence arrests  hamper the steady paycheck that keeps some families from going homeless.  Most states require the victim to attend a class and sign an affidavit before the prosecutor will drop the case.

If you, a family member or a close friend has been accused of a domestic violence case,  a consultation with a criminal attorney is warranted.   Domestic violence charges, even while usually misdemeanors, scare current and future employers who may not take a chance on potential violence in the workplace.  At the Forbess Law Firm we have defended hundreds of domestic violence cases in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties.

Additional Sources:  Ravens RB Ray Rice gets married one day after indictment,, March 29, 2014

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