Ray Rice and the Double Jeopardy to Janay Rice

When Ray Rice was rightfully charged with domestic assault, the law took a step to protect women in families, and rightfully penalize a perpetrator of an assault and battery. Domestic violence is never defensible, never appropriate, never deserved.  Family law is designed to protect vulnerable family members from these types of actions.  

When the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens, however, suspended and released Rice respectively, they will cause double jeopardy in terms of consequences to the victim of the assault, Janay Rice.  Let me explain -

Ray Rice Press Conference

First, reports make clear that "The release of the video has touched off a firestorm of activity. The Ravens have unceremoniously released Rice and the NFL has announced that in light of this "new evidence," Rice has been suspended from the league indefinitely," according to one report at http://www.redstate.com/2014/09/08/ray-rice-abortion-being-led-about-by-the-viscera/.  Janay shared her anguish regarding the video release, and her anger with the NFL and media outlets who will capitalize on her pain, as she stated to the Chicago Tribune at http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/chi-ray-rice-video-20140909-story.html.

Secondly, there's more pain ahead for Janay.  When her husband, Ray Rice, lost his job, Janay Rice also lost her source of income. Criminal laws are designed to punish perpetrators and protect victims, but they often suffer much more than the general public realizes.  Indeed, Janay will be a double victim with her husband's employment loss.   As his dependent, she will suffer great loss of income, left to deal with double consequences of her husband's bad act.  While there may be no good alternative, and this is another consequence to Ray's actions, it is worth pointing out this collateral effect. 

When lawmakers create laws there's often a blind spot for the collateral effects of those legal consequences, and loss of employment in domestic violence cases is a classic one.  Another example of this is in the international law that was designed to protect children by affording them rights, but has actually not worked to protect children. Rather children are subject to greater victimization from adults around the globe than anytime in world history.  To learn more about that phenomenon, download the free article on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1962681. Indirect effects and consequences often harm the very person targeted for protection.  That's the case here with the Rice family.

Practical double jeopardy is never a good consequence of well thought out law, and it works to deconstruct any possible restoration a family might wish to pursue in the process of suffering the consequences of domestic assault.


  1. Can't say I agree with any of this. The criminal justice system didn't stand up for women or against domestic violence. They barely chastised Rice. The DA told Rice to get some anger issues because his then fiance didn't want to press charges and they would forego the possible 2-3 years he could have served. I've seen DA's go after domestic cases on much less to try to teach the violent man that it's not ok. Now they are married and what will change? Nothing. If she "suffers a great loss of income" it's her own fault for choosing to marry an abusive man after he knocked her out cold.

  2. The silver lining of the Ray Rice issue is that it has raised awareness of domestic violence in the U.S. by brining it into the national spotlight. It is too bad domestic violence has to share the spotlight with the NFL, unfortunately, that vehicle continues to deliver on the issue. The risk of losing a multi-million dollar job over a domestic violence conviction may cause those in that position to pause. However, such high stakes could also have a negative effect, and lead to under reporting. Without question though, the more time the tragedy of domestic violence spends in the national spotlight, unfortunate as it may be, the clearer the need to balance the severity of punishment with the interest of the family becomes. Hard to do when there are conflicting interest at issue.

  3. As a well-compensated representative of the NFL Rice's very public criminal conduct is absolutely grounds for him to be punished through the organization. When his fiancé chose to forgive him and marry him after the abuse she accepted that they would face the consequences of his prior conduct together.

  4. The NFL should indefinitely suspend its wife-beaters, gangsters, and drug users, depriving them of the privileged lifestyle they enjoy. I find it offensive that it was ever the case that an NFL player could get away with a crime that would permanently cripple my (and every other normal person's) ability to be gainfully employed in the future. Pro sports' profit machines should not keep churning at the expense of the rule of law.

  5. Everyone can agree domestic abuse is bad. We can disagree whether Janay Rice should have married Ray one month after the abuse occurred or how NFL teams should punish players for domestic abuse.

    However, the recent termination is a celebrity-driven PR move to minimize damage to the Baltimore Raven brand. Ray was arrested and subsequently fined $500,000 and banned for 2 games by the team after the Feb. 15 incident. Nearly seven months later on Sept. 8, after a copy of the security camera went viral, celebrities jumped on the bandwagon and the team tweeted that it had terminated Rice. http://hollywoodlife.com/2014/09/08/ray-rice-fired-baltimore-ravens-abuse-video/

    Some say Janay is a victim of battered woman syndrome doomed to years of abuse while others say the couple taken the road to mend their relationship. The termination is bad in either case. The Ravens either sent a domestic abuser back home to his wife and young kid knowing he is unemployed and likely to take it out on them; or, they deprived the family of an income to score PR points. Perhaps a better approach would have been requiring couples counseling, BWS support for Janay, and docking a portion of Ray’s pay into a trust fund for Janay in case of separation.

  6. I watched the video and it looks terrible. However I do not know anything else about the situation or their relation to comment on it. I would prefer to live in a society with more love and Jesus and less hate and violence. Now the next question becomes, what is it going to cost to forgive Ray Rice? What would Jesus do???

  7. Domestic violence defendants should not be eligible for a first offender disposition where they can batter a member of their family and avoid a conviction. It is time that domestic violence first offender statutes are repealed.

  8. @Anonymous, the result of that would be to deprive lower middle class fathers who committed one mistake the opportunity to find adequate employment to support their wife and kids, all of whom will probably soon forget the incident, forgive the father/husband, and move on. What exactly could this strict policy that you suggest possibly accomplish? Because I assure you that it will not serve as a deterrent to lower middle class married couples, the majority of whom do not have the slightest clue about what are the legal consequences for a first time domestic abuse offense.

  9. It is easier to look at the speck of sawdust in our brother's eye. We can look back at what he did and say it is wrong. It is true that for a man to hit a woman is wrong under any circumstance. There is no excuse for him.
    But, whom are we trying to protect? To whom are we trying to bring justice? Did he ever apology to her for hitting? Did she forgive him? Why did they eventually get married? If, just if she had forgiven him, should we forgive him too?
    There are circumstances where the law may do more harm than good. This case may be one of those circumstances. The law can tell Janay and her daughter that Ray is a criminal, a bad person, but it can never make him better.

    1. Maybe it can make him better by realizing the extent of the consequences of his actions. Repentance can only come after feeling a sense of guilt. Whether this was taken to an extreme is another question. The law also tells victims that they are valuable human beings. Maybe Janay is not happy about this video but there are plenty of victims of crime who are grateful for the justice they have received at the hand of the law.

  10. I do believe that Rice should have been punished by the NFL in some way. The average person would likely face employment consequences as a result of that kind of behavior. However, I think the bigger issue is the judicial systems handling of the situation and what kind of message that sends.

  11. The claim that Janay will suffer financially from Ray's great lost of income should be taken with a big grain of salt. Though Ray won't reap the full benefits of his lucrative NFL contract, the five year, $35 million deal Ray signed in before the 2012 season included $22 million in guaranteed money to the former Ravens running back, an amount that was paid to him at signing. (http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/ravens-insider/bal-financial-ramifications-of-ravens-terminating-ray-rices-contract-20140908-story.html). Assuming he hasn't squandered this $22 million in the two years since (he hasn't), there is little reason to believe that the couple will be in the dire financial straits this article suggests, especially in comparison to the average married U.S. couple. Based solely on financial stability alone, there is likely a high percentage of women who would take Janay's financial stability over their own, even as Ray's future with the NFL remains cloudy.

    Speaking of Ray Rice's future in the NFL...

    What Ray Rice did to Janay was an atrocious act. He admitted to it. He deserves to pay the price for it. But, like Michael Vick (NFL quarterback who plead guilty to illegal dog fighting crimes and served over a year in prison), I believe Ray sincerely and wholeheartedly understands the magnitude of his actions. And, without dismissing the gravity of the domestic assault against his now wife, he deserves a second chance. This second chance will give him an opportunity to get back into the national spotlight and be a voice for ending domestic abuse, just like Micheal Vick has successfully done to end dog fighting with his rebuilt image and reentry into the NFL. Besides, reemploying Rice in the NFL will no longer make Janay a "victim" of Ray's employment loss.

  12. My issue with the situation is now the shift in culture this incident has brought to the NFL. Following the Ray Rice incident, the NFL decided to take a stand against violent crimes, specifically domestic violence. While on its face it appears to be an excellent idea. Who couldn't get behind a plan like that? However, the implementation of it has caused a reversal in one of the most fundamental rights an accused has - the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    Now, with the video of Ray Rice, I don't think there is any doubt of his guilt. However, since that time, other NFL players have been suspended based solely on accusations and without any video evidence. I have seen domestic violence play out in a court room and a majority of the charges simply aren't warranted. Of course there are those terrible crimes that deserve punishment. However, I have seen other charges filed because a woman threw a cupcake at her sister.

    I believe sometimes we forget that these athletes are also people. People who are afforded the protection of the Constitution. While I fully support he NFL's desire to take a stand on domestic violence, I think that every player accused should be considered innocent until proven guilty. If a player deserves to be punished, then by all means punish them. But at least give them the due process they deserve.