Legal Exposure: Unpacking Malik McDowell‘s Criminal Charges
Image via NY Post
This article is a first in a series of articles regarding the Malik McDowell case.
As reported today by Jake Trotter of ESPN Cleveland, Cleveland Browns Defensive Tackle Malik McDowell was arrested on three charges including: Aggravated Battery on Law Enforcement, Resisting Arrest Without Violence and Public Exposure of Sexual Organs. As stated in the police report, law enforcement responded to an area regarding a report of a naked man walking around near a school. Law enforcement attempted to contact the individual later identified as Malik McDowell and Mr. McDowell allegedly responded, “fuck you”. Mr. McDowell allegedly charged the officer at full speed with a closed fist. Mr. McDowell then allegedly rammed his body into the law enforcement officer and began swinging a closed fist at the officer and struck the right eye/temple area on the officer’s forehead. The officer eventually was able to fight off Mr. McDowell and Mr. McDowell allegedly fled on foot from the scene. Mr. McDowell was eventually then tased after a short foot pursuit. The Defendant is being held on a $27,000 bond.
Let’s get this out of the way, the Defendant will eventually enter a plea of guilty to the exposure of sexual organs charge and resisting arrest without violence charge. The rationale behind is that those facts mentioned above if proven to be true allow for little to no room for reasonable doubt as to the Defendant’s guilt. The officer observed the sexual organs and once a jury hears that it was near a school, they will not have any sympathy for the Defendant. Also, Mr. McDowell allegedly resisted arrest without violence when he fled the scene on foot as the officer was attempting to complete his investigation into the naked man. Those two charges are misdemeanor charges and the least of Mr. McDowell’s problems. The issue for Malik McDowell will be the Aggravated Battery on Law Enforcement charge.
Under Fla. Stat. 784.07(2)(d), Aggravated Battery on Law Enforcement occurs when a Defendant intentionally caused bodily harm to the victim (law enforcement). Malik McDowell intentionally or knowingly caused (one of the following) 1) great bodily harm to the victim; 2) permanent disability to the victim; or 3) permanent disfigurement to the victim. Victim was a law enforcement officer and Defendant knew victim was a law enforcement officer. This is an exceptionally serious charge. That is because it a first-degree felony in the State of Florida. That means it is punishable by up to thirty years in prison and a 5-year minimum mandatory sentence. That means if Malik McDowell is convicted or pleads guilty as charged, he must serve 5 years in prison day for day. In other words, he must serve 1,826 days in prison (365 days x 4 years + 366 days for 1 year as one year would be a leap year) before he is eligible for release from prison. There is nothing the Judge can do to change that. Additionally, with a conviction for a first-degree felony comes with it a mandatory adjudication of guilt. That means if Mr. McDowell is convicted as charged, Mr. McDowell would automatically become a convicted felon as well for life.
The biggest issue in this case will undoubtedly be whether the officer suffered permanent disfigurement. That is because if he/she did not, the Defendant would not be convicted as charged. Very likely he would be convicted of a lesser included of battery on law enforcement which is a 3rd degree felony and would spare the Defendant a mandatory prison sentence and a mandatory adjudication. Right now, the facts as stated are not in Mr. McDowell’s favor, but this criminal case is ever an open and shut case. This is going to be an exceptionally important offseason for the NFL career and the life of Malik McDowell. In the next article we will discuss what other potential defenses he may have and how his attorney may use them.
Matthew F. Tympanick, Esq. is the Founder/Principal of Tympanick Law, P.A., located in Sarasota, Florida where he focuses his practice on Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Law. Arrested or Injured? Don’t Panic…Call Tympanick! He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts School of Law where he served as a Public Interest Fellow and a Staff Editor on the UMass Law Review. He was previously a felony prosecutor, he prosecuted thousands of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases. You can follow him on Twitter @Tympanick20 and @TympanickLaw.