One month after a security guard at a St. Augustine bar accused Jacksonville Jaguar star running back Maurice Jones-Drew of punching him and knocking him unconscious, prosecutors announced Jones-Drew would not face charges. One video of the St. Johns County Battery incident that was released to the media is taken from a long distance and it is difficult to see exactly what happened, let alone identify anyone in the melee. Last week, prosecutors filed an “announcement of no information,” ending the criminal side of the case by saying Jones-Drew would not face a misdemeanor simple battery charge, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union.
Misdemeanor simple battery is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum of one year in the county jail. In order to pursue criminal charges, the State Attorney’s Office should have a reasonable probability of proving the charge beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. Now, that’s not always the case when charges are filed, so trying to predict when they’ll file and when they won’t is risky. This case always seemed more about money than criminal wrongdoing, and that reality is playing out now. When someone like Jones-Drew, scheduled to make $6.8 million next season, is involved, the real meat of the case can be in civil court. In civil court, the standard of proof is lower and the defendant can be at risk to pay damages. The standard of proof in a criminal case, as it would have been if prosecutors opted to pursue this St. Johns County Battery incident, is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, the standard is a “preponderance of evidence,” which could make it more likely for a jury to find Jones-Drew responsible.
Jones-Drew did not speak to St. Augustine police during their investigation, primarily because it would be public record and he did not want it to be available for attorneys to use in their civil case against him, the newspaper reported. An attorney for the security guard said after the state opted not to press charges that he will file a civil case. This high-profile case does provide some insight into how charging decisions are made and the power prosecutors have. Many cases that end up getting essentially dropped after a few months of legal wrangling can be avoided if the state does more investigating on the front end and chooses not to file charges it can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Depending on the incident and how the case develops, our St. Johns Criminal Defense Attorney can sometimes be involved after the incident but before charges are filed to discuss the case with the state and advise you or your loved one going forward. If you believe you or your loved one may be a suspect in a crime, it’s crucial to get a St. Johns Criminal Defense Attorney on board early, even if you haven’t been arrested – as Jones-Drew hadn’t in this St. Johns County Battery Case.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in St. Augustine or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.