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Gubernatorial Campaign Loses Manager After Spousal Abuse Charge
In late October 2022, the campaign manager for Florida gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist resigned. One day later, the news came out that he had been involved in a domestic dispute with the mother of his child at their home in Maryland. While both sides of the dispute have downplayed its seriousness, charges were filed, and the manager does face potential consequences. This is in spite of the fact that his alleged victim does not appear inclined to cooperate in prosecuting the offense.
The Offense Is Charged Differently
The campaign manager was charged with second-degree misdemeanor assault, which in Maryland falls under the definition of “abuse.” Florida law defines a crime of domestic violence as any criminal offense that results in physical injury or death to the victim that was perpetrated by a family or household member. The alleged assault would likely have fallen under Florida’s definition as well as Maryland’s, given that news outlets reported noticeable ‘marks’ on the female victim’s face.
The potential sentences for second-degree misdemeanor assault differ wildly between Maryland and Florida. Florida does not recognize one specific offense of domestic violence; rather, the underlying crime (in this case, assault) is charged, and the presence of domestic violence factors acts as a sentencing enhancement. The sentence for this type of domestic offense can be up to 5 years, while in Maryland, there is no real difference between a domestic violence charge or an assault charge – both may carry up to 10 years in jail.
Lack Of Cooperation May Not Be Relevant
One other relevant factor in the campaign manager’s case is that his alleged victim appears willing to put the entire incident behind her. She issued a ‘joint statement’ with him to this effect, meaning it is a reasonable inference that she may not cooperate with authorities if they seek to bring the campaign manager to trial. It is true that if a victim refuses to cooperate with an investigation, and there is no other evidence establishing a case against the defendant, the case might be dismissed – but this is not often the case.
Because domestic violence is a criminal matter, the victim has very little power in terms of getting the case dropped, even if they state that to be their wish. It is the decision of the state’s attorney as to whether a case will go forward; in Florida, domestic violence cases almost always go forward simply because it is seen as a particularly heinous crime. If you are charged with domestic violence, do not count on the case being dropped unless the circumstances are highly unusual.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
While it remains to be seen what the outcome of the campaign manager’s case will be, it is important to learn the lessons one can from it happening at all. If you have been charged with this type of crime in Florida, a West Palm Beach criminal attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help protect your rights in court. Call our office today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.