Texas native and pro football star Von Miller voluntarily surrendered himself to law enforcement in the Dallas suburb of Glenn Heights in response to an arrest warrant police issued for him on a domestic violence charge of assault on a pregnant woman.
ABC News reports that the linebacker for the Buffalo Bills was booked into the DeSoto Tri-City Jail after his arrest. The arrest warrant was issued out of Dallas County on November 29, and Miller turned himself in on November 30.
According to the arrest warrant’s affidavit (a sworn or affirmed statement to be used for evidence in court), Miller and his longtime girlfriend engaged in a verbal argument around 10:40 a.m. on November 29. He then allegedly pushed and shoved the woman—who is 6 weeks pregnant—as she tried to leave their apartment in Dallas, the affidavit states.
In addition, it states that Miller, 34, is accused of pulling the woman by her hair and putting his hands around her neck.
When the woman indicated she would call the police, the affidavit states that Miller left the apartment.
Miller’s girlfriend later denies any assault occurred
Shortly before noon, police arrived in response to a “major disturbance” at the residence after receiving a 911 call from the woman.
They reportedly found that she had abrasions and/or bruises on her neck, hand, abdomen and arm. According to CBS Sports, police said she was treated for minor injuries and was not taken to a hospital.
She later told reporters for WFAA in Dallas that the incident was “blown way out of context.”
“No one assaulted anyone,” she said, adding, “We’re fine,” and “This is actually outrageous.”
That doesn’t mean police and prosecutors won’t proceed with an investigation to determine for themselves if the woman’s latest claim is true—especially given that she’d summoned police with an emergency 911 call.
The recorded call reportedly had the woman saying, “He pulled my hair out,” and “I have, like, some blood on me.”
When a charge is made, a victim cannot retract their claim and drop the charge. Only prosecutors can drop a charge.
Miller was under previous investigation
A native of DeSoto, Texas, Miller was previously investigated for a possible domestic crime by Parker, Colorado, police in 2021, though the district attorney in Colorado declined to move forward with a charge.
Details of that investigation were not disclosed. However, it was reportedly related to disturbing interactions between Miller and a former girlfriend on social media. Yet, the woman said there had never been physical violence between them, so prosecutors did not follow up on the case.
Thus, if Miller is convicted of assault, he would be a first-time offender and not a repeat offender. Punishments for repeat offenders, also known as recidivists, can be more harsh than for a first-time offender.
Miller went from Texas A&M to the NFL
An 8-time selection for the NFL’s Pro Bowl and a 2-time Super Bowl champion, Miller was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl 50, won by the Denver Broncos.
He has played in the National Football League since being the second pick of the 2011 draft. Miller has also played for the Los Angeles Rams and now plays for the Buffalo Bills, who had a bye week (a scheduled week off) when Miller was in Texas.
Miller played collegiately for Texas A&M University.
The Bills said in a statement to Dallas’s WFAA that the team was “aware of an incident involving Von Miller” and was “in the process of gathering more information, and will have no further comment at this point.” So far, Miller has not been placed on an inactive list of players.
The NFL said it’s also aware of the matter and has been in contact with the Bills. NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in an email that the league “will monitor all legal developments in the case” and has no further comment.
Assault on a pregnant woman is a felony in Texas
Under a Texas law that was enacted in September 2019, assaulting a pregnant woman is a third-degree felony crime. It can bring punishments upon conviction of 2 to 10 years in prison, a fine of as much as $10,000, or both.
Previously, Texas laws on assault considered an assault on a pregnant woman the same as an assault on a non-pregnant person. Then, assaulting a pregnant woman was a Class A misdemeanor, a crime no worse than burglarizing a vehicle.
Before the new law took effect, lesser possible punishments for simply an assault charge included up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both.
Are there defenses against assault on a pregnant woman?
Yes. For the current such law in Texas, defenses can include arguing that the assault claim was a case of mistaken identity or that it was inaccurate. Proving this often involves establishing an alibi, as in not being present at the time of the alleged crime.
Another defense involves establishing that the accused person acted out of self-defense. However, such a defense must establish that the force used by the defendant as self-defense was proportionate to, and not more severe than, the force first asserted by the victim.
A defense to an assault charge can also involve claiming that the accused was defending someone else. That is comparable to a strategy of self-defense but instead asserts that the accused was defending another person who’d been threatened with harm.
Further, the current Texas law targeting assaults on a pregnant woman states that prosecutors must prove that the defendant knew, or reasonably should have known, she was pregnant at the time of the assault.
Such a defense could be plausible in the case of a woman who was only 6 weeks pregnant. However, if she was 8 months pregnant and that was easily discernible, claiming no knowledge of the pregnancy would be unlikely to work as a defense.
Other defenses may also arise for assault on a pregnant woman in Texas, particularly when the case is handled by the best Texas criminal defense lawyer or attorney available.
Who is the best Houston defense lawyer?
If you or a family member in the Houston area faces an assault charge, you may be seeking the top Houston defense lawyer you can find to fight for your legal rights. Such a charge must be taken seriously since your reputation and freedom may depend on it.
The Neal Davis Law Firm has defended the legal rights of criminally charged Texans for years. Contact us today to arrange a private consultation.