Just four months after he was acquitted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman is making headlines in Florida once again.
Yesterday afternoon, Zimmerman was arrested by Seminole County police on charges of aggravated assault with a firearm, aggravated battery on a pregnant female, and criminal mischief.
This is considered an act of domestic violence as Zimmerman was residing with a girlfriend. Florida law considers a crime to be a crime of domestic violence if an act of violence involves people in a relationship who reside together.
Zimmerman’s girlfriend allegedly called the police, claiming that Zimmerman broke a coffee table, aimed a shotgun at her, and then pushed her. The girlfriend is allegedly pregnant and presuming that Zimmerman was aware of that fact, a battery on a pregnant female is escalated from a misdemeanor to a second-degree felony.
Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison. Aggravated assault with a firearm - this must be specifically charged - is also a third-degree felony. However, aggravated assault with a firearm carries a 3-year mandatory minimum sentence.
Criminal mischief can be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the property destroyed. Over $1000 and it’s a felony. Under $1000 and it’s either a second or first-degree misdemeanor.
Since Zimmerman is charged with a domestic violence crime, he cannot post a bond until he has been seen by the judge. The judge will assess whether is a flight risk and a danger to the community and then will set bond. All of the counts that he is facing are bondable offenses.
I would imagine that given his high-profile standing and the fact that many Floridians believe that he got away with murder, I believe that the prosecutors handling his new charges will be seeking serious penalties. If the girlfriend, however, decides that she does not want to prosecute, the state may have a hard time bringing forth these charges.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward.