Burlington County, NJ Law Blog

Monday, September 26, 2016

Roughing the Kicker’s Wife?

Q: Can a domestic violence arrest affect my employment?

It’s football season—and all your rowdy friends are here.

It’s common to see a professional football player push another, throw them to the ground, jump on top of them, or even use a forearm on the back of the neck to pin an opponent’s face to the turf.

But no one expects this kind of behavior from the kicker…especially against his own wife.

Molly Brown alleged that her ex-husband, New York Giants Kicker Josh Brown subjected her to over 20 incidents of physical violence over the years, including an altercation at their Washington home in May, 2015, wherein he allegedly pushed her into a mirror, threw her on the ground, jumped on top of her, and used his forearm to pin her face to the rug. In addition, she alleged she was “consistently” subjected to verbal abuse and even death threats during the years of the marriage.

The police were reportedly called to the couple’s homes in several states on multiple occasions in response to domestic complaints-- including one 2014 incident apparently reported by the kicker alleging he was the victim. But it was the May 2015 incident --which led to the kicker’s “arrest on a charge of assault in the fourth degree/domestic violence”-- that impacted his employment with the Giants.

In response to the recent flood of domestic violence allegations against professional football players, the NFL instituted a policy reflecting zero-tolerance of such behavior by its players. In a nutshell, players will be given a six game suspension for their first offense. However the league may consider other “mitigating or aggravating” circumstances to make the suspension period either shorter or longer.

In the Brown case, the league apparently attempted to conduct its own investigation into the May incident and the prior alleged incidents, but was unable to obtain requested additional information from local law enforcement sources or the ex-wife. In addition, the criminal case against Brown was dropped for “insufficient evidence”. In light of these “mitigating” factors, Brown was given a somewhat controversial one-game suspension instead of six, sitting out this season’s opening game.

As a professional athlete under an employment contract, Brown is bound by, and yet also protected by, this unique policy. People without employment contracts addressing how such matters are handled—which is the vast majority of Americans—may find their jobs and reputations in jeopardy upon an arrest.

If you have been, or anticipate being, charged with domestic violence or any crime, it’s important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Sitzler and Sitzler is located in Hainesport, New Jersey, and serves clients in every Federal Court, Municipal and Superior court in Burlington County and every county in South Jersey. Contact the firm to schedule a free consultation or case evaluation.

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