By Jaime C. Feal
The #1 contender for the UFC’s heavyweight title has been charged with battery in Las Vegas. The incident occurred on January 2nd, 2012 at the Wynn Casino, just a few days after Overeem TKOd Brock Lesnar to earn a shot at Junior Dos Santos. Overeem was not arrested, but rather issued a notice to appear in court for an arraignment on February 21, 2012. Overeem has retained counsel; Las Vegas defense attorney David Chesnoff will be representing him. Both Chesnoff and Overeem maintain his innocence, despite the notice indicating Overeem pushed or shoved a woman in the face, “causing her to stagger back.” The “had been drinking” box was checked on the notice as well, indicating the police determined Overeem either was emitting the odor of an alcoholic beverage, or saw clues of impairment. Overeem may have simply admitted to drinking to the police, and they checked the “had been drinking” box accordingly. There is some speculation right now because we don’t have the full police report, just the one page notice to appear.
From a legal perspective, this is much ado about nothing. Overeem is charged with misdemeanor battery, not felony battery, and therefore his attorney can appear for him at all court dates. Furthermore, the fact an actual arrest was not made, and instead the police chose to issue a notice to appear, can be indicative that the case isn’t as strong as one might think. Some news sites have reported that if Overeem is convicted he could face up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine, but jail time would be an absolute shocker in this case. He does not have a criminal past, he has an excellent private attorney, and it is a low level offense. He is very unlikely to be convicted, and a diversion program, fines, and community service are the worst-case scenario.
Then there are questions as to whether he is even guilty of the charge. For those who have watched the movie “Casino” with Robert DeNiro, you know that there is always an eye-in-the-sky watching us all. The first step defense attorney Chesnoff should take is to subpoena any and all surveillance video from the Wynn on the night of the incident. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures. Chesnoff must move quickly, however, as often times surveillance video is destroyed after a couple months due to storage limitations. If Overeem truly is innocent (for example if he was acting in self-defense) this video could exonerate him and result in the charges being dismissed completely. Ultimately, fight fans need not worry as this charge will not jeopardize the UFC Heavyweight showdown between Overeem and Junior Dos Santos.