Athletes, just like the people who pay to watch them catch balls, shoot baskets and swing bats, sometimes put themselves in compromising situations. Brandon Marshall, a star wide receiver recently traded from the Miami Dolphins to the Chicago Bears, is no different. According to the NY Post, Marshall is accused of punching a woman, Christin Myles, in the face during a late night (actually, an early morning) fracas. It is alleged that Marshall socked the young woman with enough force to give her a black eye. The fight is alleged to have occurred at a club in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood.
Assuming the allegations are true, Manhattan prosecutors would likely charge Marshall with a top count of misdemeanor Assault in the Third Degree. New York Penal Law 120.00(1) is an intentional crime where you strike another person and cause that person a physical injury. The physical injury element requires substantial pain. Redness, swelling, and a more serious black eye would be enough to reach this threshold. Assuming there is a conviction, you would end up with a sentence ranging from community service or a conditional discharge to three years probation or as much as one year in jail.
What differentiates Third Degree Assault from Second Degree Assault as set forth in New York Penal Law 120.05, are two main elements. If, instead of your fist or leg, you strike someone with a bottle or cut someone with a knife while intending to cause a physical injury, the fact that a dangerous instrument or weapon is used bumps the crime up to a felony. Alternatively, if you intend to cause serious physical injury and do so when strike the person, your offense is felonious. Very briefly, the distinction between the two levels of injury are significant. While a physical injury can be a painful abrasion, a serious physical injury is one that causes a protracted impairment of a bodily function or disfigurement. To be clear, to satisfy the elements of the latter Second Degree Assault, merely punching a person and causing serious physical injury (a ruptured eye socket that impairs the victim's vision, for example) may not be enough. Prosecutors also have to establish your intent to not just cause physical injury, but an intent to cause a serious one. Again, there are two prongs to this type of Assault (an intent to cause serious injury and actually causing serious injury). Should they be successful in doing so, upon conviction you would face up to seven years in prison.
With a brief description of the allegations and an understanding of the law, the next question is what are Marshall's potential defenses. Assuming Myles failed to report the incident immediately, a delay in reporting always causes problems in Assault cases. If she was truly hurt, then why did she not contact the police or make a record of the incident? Is there another agenda at work? Further, the dispute is claimed to have occurred at 4:00 am at a bar. How intoxicated was Myles or her potential witnesses? Reports indicate that Marshall's wife was struck with a bottle and sustained serious injuries. Was Marshall defending her? Regardless of why he is alleged to have hit Myles, is there a video of the incident? All of these factors are directly relevant in ascertaining the strength and weakness of an Assault case such as the one that Marshal potentially faces.
Whether Marshall is ultimately arrested or the case goes nowhere, I am confident the tabloids will pick it up and share it with us. From what I have read, however, and assuming there is no video corroborating Myles, Marshall seems to be in as good as a place one can be when accused of a New York misdemeanor Assault crime.
To learn more about New York violent crimes and the various degrees of New York Assault, review the links above or any of the blogs and websites below.
Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, the New York criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC represent those accused of or investigated for crimes throughout the New York City region.