Many may not be surprised to learn of this one. Just hours ago, George Zimmerman was re-arrested and charged with a “domestic violence related offense.” Seminole County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Zimmerman in Central Florida after receiving a call concerning a “disturbance.”
At the time of writing this blog entry, no other details were released by law enforcement. He will be booked at the jail and will not be able to post the bond until first seeing a judge, who, by law, will order him to have no contact with the alleged victim.
TMZ is reporting that the alleged victim is Zimmerman’s girlfriend. They also are reporting that she is alleging that she is pregnant.
Before I provide analysis on this one, let me first get a few folks up to speed, who may have been living under a rock for the past year. George Zimmerman was acquitted earlier this year of murder in the 2012 shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. That wasn’t his only brush with the law since his acquittal.
Earlier this month, cops in Lake Mary, Florida announced that he wouldn’t be charged with any crimes after being involved in a domestic dispute with his soon to be ex-wife, Shellie Zimmerman. She’s the same one who came out recently expressing her doubts of his innocence in the Martin shooting.
Additional contact with law enforcement since his acquittal includes being stopped for speeding on two separate occasions. One time he was given a verbal warning and the other time he received a speeding citation.
Now, here’s my take. First, the biggest problem for Zimmerman is the pregnancy thing. If the alleged victim really is pregnant and there’s sufficient evidence to prove that he knew it at the time he alleged struck her, then he will be charged with Aggravated Battery, pursuant to Florida Statute 784.045. Because that crime is a second degree felony, he could face up to fifteen years in prison.
If she either wasn’t pregnant and/or Zimmerman didn’t know it at the time, he still could face domestic violence battery charges, subjecting him to up to a year in jail. Either charge he faces will be brought by a prosecutor, who I anticipate to be extremely aggressive and zealous. Most prosecutors who handle domestic violence cases that I encounter in court on a daily basis, fit that description. Most of them believe that every domestic violent defendant could be the next O.J. Simpson, ready to escalate the violence and prepared to commit the ultimate crime at any moment.
Even if his alleged girlfriend wants the charges dropped, she will learn that she has no control over that decision. It’s not her call. This case, like his murder case, will be titled, “State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman” and not “Zimmerman’s Girlfriend vs. George Zimmerman.” That means that the alleged victim is considered by prosecutors to be a mere witness in this case. She will play a significant role in assisting prosecutors decide the appropriate plea bargain to extend, if any. However, whether this case goes any further, isn’t her call. Short of claiming that she lied to law enforcement, I expect this prosecution to continue.
What is uncertain at this time is whether he committed any offense at all. Zimmerman deserves the presumption of innocence in a court of law and will only suffer any adverse consequences if sufficient evidence exists to prove him guilty. He has learned that all too well.
The “Court of Public Opinion” is back in session and most will condemn him, yet again. On this matter, I’m going to hold off until I hear what the alleged victim is specifically alleging and whether the evidence supports her allegations.