This July, Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Dez Bryant was arrested in Texas as the result of an incidence of violence that occurred between Bryant and his mother. According to the police report, Bryant slapped his mother with a baseball cap on her face and pulled her hair. It seems as if this athlete is not receiving any special treatment. He is facing up to a year in jail and discipline by the National Football League (NFL) under the personal-conduct policy. Texas may also impose a $4,000 fine, although that is not likely to deter a successful professional football player.
Although Bryant’s mother, Angela Bryant, initially called the police on her son, she is now requesting that charges against him be dropped. In a criminal case such a request does not automatically mean that the case will be dropped. However, it may be more difficult for the prosecution to obtain a conviction without the assistance of the victim. In San Diego, the Office of the City Attorney of San Diego has the authority to decide whether to prosecute a case of domestic violence, not the victim. This is likely due to recognition of the cycle of domestic violence. Victims often return to their abusers for various reasons including fear, the safety of others, and out of love. Thus, if victims decided whether or not to prosecute cases of violence against them, fewer violent perpetrators would be put behind bars.
The details of the altercation between Bryant and his mother are still debated. However, Bryant has received the support of his teammates. Fellow Dallas Cowboy Tony Romo has stated, “the one thing I know is that Dez knows I have his back” and “Dez knows I’ll be there for him. Dez knows that I’m going to stick up for him.” If Bryant does receive jail time, he will be putting his teammates in a tough situation. Bryant is a valuable player and will be unable to fulfill his obligations to the NFL if placed in jail. Romo also mentioned that Bryant had a difficult life and upbringing possibly hinting that a self-defense claim may be brought.
Under Texas laws, Bryant was charged with “family violence.” In California, he would likely be facing charges of domestic violence. Domestic violence is not only recognized in romantic relationships but also in various other situations. Under the California Family Code section 6211, domestic violence is abuse perpetrated against any of the following persons: (a) a spouse or former spouse, (b) a cohabitant or former cohabitant, (c) a person with whom the alleged abuser is or has dated or been engaged to, (d) a person with whom the alleged abuser has had a child, (e) a child of a party or a child, and (f) any other person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree. Thus, in the case of Dez Bryant and his mother, due to the close familial relationship, he would likely be charged under domestic violence statutes in California.
Any situation involving domestic violence is dangerous. Please contact us if you have questions regarding the effects of domestic violence on child custody or divorce. Nancy J. Bickford is the only attorney in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.