This past week, a Broward jury found former MMA fighter Fernando Rodrigues not guilty of three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. If found guilty, according to Florida law, Mr. Rodrigues would have been convicted of a second-degree felony and would have faced a minimum of 10 years in prison.
The case stemmed from a case of road rage on North State Road 7 in Coral Springs, which ended in a roadside brawl that involved Rodrigues and two pool service workers. When police arrived at the scene, all three men were handcuffed and one of them, Rodrigues, was arrested. Ostensibly, Rodrigues was arrested because it was the other two individuals in the fight who seemed to have sustained the most injuries from the fight.
Our South Florida criminal defense attorneys know that Florida law gives people the right to protect themselves – and that is just what Mr. Rodrigues did. Thankfully, a jury of his peers recognized the validity of his argument; as a result, a law-abiding citizen who served his country in the Marines will avoid being wrongfully thrown behind bars.
Apparently, as reported by the Sun Sentinel, the road rage incident began when Rodrigues honked his car’s horn in an effort to alert the individuals in the vehicle in front of him, the two pool service workers, that they had neglected to move forward despite the light having changed. According to the pool service workers, Rodrigues then began to follow the vehicle in front of him before both cars pulled to the side of the road. What happened next was at the center of the case.
According to the two pool service workers, Rodrigues approached the men, pistol-whipped one of them, and placed one in a wrestling hold. According to the defendant and his attorneys, however, Rodrigues was simply trying to write down the license plate of the car in front of his when the two pool service workers accosted him, brandishing a firearm, forcing Rodrigues to defend himself.
As Florida law clearly states in section 776.012 of the Florida State Statutes, an individual (in this case Rodrigues) is permitted to use force in self-defense when such force is necessary to defend himself or herself against the unlawful use of force by another individual or individuals (in this case the pool service workers).
The fact that Rodrigues was charged with aggravated assault would have been serious in and of itself. Unfortunately, given his past as a Marine and as an MMA fighter, his fists, which he used to defend himself, were classified by authorities as a “deadly weapons,” which is why he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, an even more serious charge.
Despite the steep charges against him, the six-member Broward jury took just over an hour to render a verdict of not guilty, producing another instance of justice in an often-unjust world. Rodrigues’ case is an example of the benefits of skilled legal representation. Without legal knowledge and experience on your side, you could be charged with, convicted of and penalized for a crime you never even committed.
If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.