Jaguar player, Dan Skuta, was arrested just over a week ago for an incident allegedly occurring in an Orlando bar. According to a report in the Florida Times Union, police claim Skuta hit a woman in the face and was arrested for battery. Apparently, officers were approached outside the bar and told that the player hit the woman. Even though there were no visible injuries, police chose to arrest Skuta based on what the woman and her friend told them. This is very common. It is not clear whether or not there were any other witnesses on the alleged victim’s side, but Skuta’s criminal defense attorney told the media there are witnesses on Skuta’s side to be presented to the State Attorney’s office in Orlando. Also, Skuta appeared to have an injury below his eye, which lends credibility to his claim that he was the one hit in the incident.
Battery is a violent crime in Florida and occurs when you intentionally touch someone against their will or intentionally hurt someone. This is a first degree misdemeanor and the maximum punishment is a year in jail. As you can see in the case above, it is not necessary for the alleged victim to have visible injuries to prove a battery occurred. Pushing someone can be considered a battery. Taking someone by the arm and leading them somewhere can be considered a battery. A typical sentence for a battery charge will include some form of anger management and the payment of fines and court costs. Also, if you are convicted of a battery, even though it is a misdemeanor, it will follow the rest of your life. As I said before, this Florida misdemeanor is considered a crime of violence and can prevent you from getting certain jobs if employers fear you have the propensity to commit violence in the future.
Witnesses are going to play an important part in this case. Presumably all of the witnesses were consuming alcohol and their ability to perceive events may be questionable. Witness credibility is incredibly important to proving a criminal case, especially when an alleged victim may have motivation to lie. Attorneys must analyze whether or not the witness, including the alleged victim, had some interest in how the case progresses. People are motivated by all kinds of things, like attention and money. It will be interesting to see if the prosecutor’s office decides to file formal charges against the player. In order to file a criminal case, the prosecutor must believe there is a reasonable probability of conviction if the case goes to trial.