Pleat & Perry law firm in Destin obtains not-guilty verdict at jury trial.  

On 9/27/11, Pleat & Perry’s Client (“Client”) was involved in an altercation at school with the alleged victim.  The alleged victim had been bullying and had recently attacked another student who was significantly smaller than him.  The Client tried to stand up for his friend and confronted the alleged victim.  After words were exchanged, a mutual altercation ensued. The Client was expelled from school while the alleged victim went unpunished.  Although the school did not press charges, the parents of the alleged victim pushed the State aggressively to pursue charges and as a result, the Client was charged with battery.

Testimony established there was reasonable doubt about who pushed who first and whether the alleged victim was a willing participant to the fight.  Pursuant to Florida law, when two people mutually engage in fighting, combat, or brawling, any resulting touching cannot be considered to have occurred against that party’s will.  As a result, neither of the combatants can be convicted for a battery for their contact with their opponent. 

At a jury trial on April 24, 2012, Pleat & Perry attorney, Patrick King, presented evidence that proved that the alleged victim had being using the illegal drug LSD (Acid) at the time of the incident. The alleged victim told a version of events that was drastically and dramatically contradictory to the testimony of every other witness.  The other witnesses’ testimony established that mutual fighting had occurred.  After hearing all of the evidence, the jury deliberated for ten minutes before returning a verdict of not guilty.

This case is a parent’s worst nightmare and a cautionary tale.  The legislature has stated in the zero tolerance statute that it does not want students prosecuted for fighting or for batteries that happen at school.  It wants the school to handle those types of matters administratively.  Despite this declaration, prosecutors are not bound to drop charges and may still pursue charges of battery.  The Client was expelled, prosecuted, and had to hire an attorney to clear himself all based on the words and pressure of the alleged victim and his family.  The alleged victim is also trying to sue the school board over the incident.  Luckily, the jury rendered the correct verdict and found the Client not guilty after a jury trial.

Pleat & Perry, P.A. is a full-service law firm with offices in Destin, Navarre and Rosemary Beach.  The firm was founded in 1995 and provides legal services for clients along the Florida Panhandle from Panama City to Pensacola.  Pleat & Perry has a general practice, with proficiency in several practice areas including: Personal Injury, Real Estate, Closing, Business, Criminal, Family/Divorce, Condo/Homeowner Association, Bankruptcy, Employment/Labor, Collections, Foreclosures, Estate/Probate/Elder Law, Land Use, Hurricane Insurance Claims, BP Oil Spill Claims, Civil Litigation, Appeals, Mediations and Arbitrations.

To learn more about the trial or to schedule a consultation with a Pleat & Perry attorney, please call (850) 650-0599 or visit