Phoenix Criminal Attorneys Discuss An Unorthodox View of the Ray Rice Alleged Act of Domestic Violence

Phoenix Criminal Attorneys Discuss An Unorthodox View of the Ray Rice Alleged Act of Domestic ViolenceWhether you are an ardent fan of the NFL or you do not know the difference between a touchdown and a first down, you have probably seen or heard about the Ray Rice alleged domestic violence incident.  The media, NFL and most commentators have expressed a similar view that the NFL was correct in indefinitely suspending Rice.  The general consensus on this position has crystalized since the elevator footage became public.  While the footage was disturbing to many, our phoenix criminal attorneys believe the footage suggests that Rice might have had a legitimate defense.

By way of background, the prosecutor never had to prove a case of assault because Rice agreed to diversion.  While the case did not occur in Arizona, the prosecutor’s decision to agree to diversion in a domestic violence case like this one suggests the prosecutor knew they did not have a compelling case.  On the other hand, the defense in a case like this is going to jump at an offer of diversion, which avoids conviction or jail time.  In other words, this case probably settled quickly and quietly based on a balancing of the risks and benefits of moving forward on both sides rather than the actual merits of the case.

The elevator footage of the incident may have appeared disturbing to many because of the size, weight and gender of the participants.  The footage seems to show Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer, who appears to be unconscious as she is dragged out of the elevator.  This is the graphic image that tended to shape the public perception of the incident and motivated the indefinite suspension of Rice from the NFL.

There has been relatively little discussion of another aspect of the encounter in the elevator that might be crucially important in legal terms.  The footage seems to show that Palmer initiated the physical altercation, so Rice might have asserted the criminal defense of exercising his right to reasonable self-defense if the incident had occurred in Arizona.

When evaluating whether Ray Rice was acting in self-defense, the gender of the purported assailant is not a relevant consideration.  Even large bulky professional football players have a right to exercise reasonable force in responding to a woman who is attempting to strike the player with a slap or punch.  Although the force used to exercise a right to self-defense must be reasonable, Palmer is not entitled to an allowance for the fact she is female.

One has to wonder whether the assault would have been viewed the same way if the putative aggressor was a male with the same size and weight as Palmer.  Although the height and weight differential between a purported victim and someone committing an assault is relevant in assessing the legitimacy of a self-defense claim, gender is not a relevant consideration under the law.  The gender of the victim is no more relevant to a claim of self-defense in an assault or sexual assault case than the race or ethnicity of the parties.

Some media reports have claimed that Rice’s response was excessive because he could simply have restrained Palmer.  Again, this assumption would seem to be based on the fact that the alleged victim was female rather than male.  The notion that any person can respond with the absolute minimum amount of force when under the emotional and physical pressure of an attack is an unreasonable standard.  While Rice might be held to such a standard if he were a law enforcement officer or security guard, an ordinary citizen cannot be expected to respond with this level of precision.  The right of self-defense is a recognition of the normal instinct toward self-preservation that would be exercised by any reasonable individual regardless of gender.  For more information call the 24 hour attorneys at Ariano and Associates, PLLC.

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