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Can Ray Rice Still Be Prosecuted for Domestic Violence?

As many of you have seen, new evidence has come to light in the Ray Rice assault case. Ray Rice was an NFL running back with the Baltimore Ravens. A video released by TMZ shows a man knocking a woman unconscious in an elevator and dragging her out; TMZ alleges that the video shows Ray Rice and his now-wife Janay Palmer.

While the identities of the people in the video may not be clear, what is clear is that earlier this year New Jersey prosecutors agreed to dismiss an assault charge against Ray Rice if he participated in a pretrial intervention program. This program is a year long and requires that Mr. Rice attend anger management counseling. Before the release of the video in question, Mr. Rice was still playing football for the Ravens and still had fan support regarding his assault case. However, after the release of the video, Mr. Rice was suspended from the NFL, his contract with the Ravens was terminated, and he lost almost all support from the public.

The question raised now is whether the Atlantic County prosecutor, Jim McClain, will remove Mr. Rice from his rehabilitative program and prosecute him for aggravated assault in light of the new video. Some people may believe that to do so would violate the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment; however, since Mr. Rice did not go to trial and did not plead guilty in a non-trial setting, the double jeopardy clause does not apply. In a non-trial setting, for double jeopardy to apply, the defendant must plead guilty to the crime.

The next logical leap most people will make is that the prosecutor can revoke the terms of the pretrial agreement because not all evidence had come to light. However, the Atlantic County prosecutor said that his office supported Mr. Rice's rehabilitation "after careful consideration of the information contained in Mr. Rice's application in light of all of the facts gathered during the investigation." [1] While the probation officer who runs the pretrial intervention program stated that, "participants may be expelled only if they violate the conditions of [the program]" the judge in the case could put Mr. Rice's case back on the docket without violating Mr. Rice's due process rights. The prosecutor's office does not get to immediately reinstate proceedings against Mr. Rice.

For the average person this case illustrates the complexities of issues like double jeopardy and the rules of evidence, which, due to television and the news, most people think they familiar with. It is important that if you are experiencing trouble with criminal matters that you contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. An attorney can help you navigate difficult areas of law that may seem like common knowledge on their face.

To speak with an attorney about your criminal case, contact our Cantafio and Song, PLLC criminal defense team toll-free at (888) 458-0991.

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