Michael Vick Faces New Criminal Charges, Civil Lawsuit
By: Gerri L. Elder
When NFL superstar Michael Vick was indicted on federal dogfighting charges and pled guilty to the conspiracy charge on August 28th, we thought news on the case would pretty much fade into the background until he is sentenced on December 10th. It was almost to the point that some people were actually feeling some sympathy for Vick. Almost. However, now things are looking even worse for him.
Vick has now become a criminal defense nightmare as he has been indicted on state dogfighting charges that are basically the same as the federal charges, sued in a civil lawsuit by an Indiana bank for $2 million for an unpaid loan relating to a car rental business, largely abandoned by his former fans and most recently has tested positive for drug use.
Vick is on pretrial release and is being supervised by U.S. Magistrate Dennis Dohnal. He has rules to follow and certain restrictions to abide by if he wishes to remain a free man until he is sentenced. His criminal defense lawyers have likely instructed him to be good and follow all of the rules. One of the obvious restrictions imposed is that he not use or be in possession of narcotics or other controlled substances. That’s a no-brainer.
On September 13th, generally anyone who was starting to feel sympathetic towards Vick had a collective change of heart when it was reported that he failed his drug screening test and tested positive for marijuana use. While marijuana isn’t a “hard” drug and is widely used as the recreational drug of choice for many, the fact is that it is an illegal controlled substance. For someone already skating on such thin ice, making use of any illegal controlled substance is really not a good idea and will certainly not be beneficial to his criminal defense lawyers’ strategy.
When Vick failed his drug test, stricter pre-trial release conditions were imposed. Judge Henry E. Hudson decided to give Vick a form of mini-house arrest by restricting him to his home from the hours of 10 pm to 6 am, at the request of the probation officer in the case. To ensure that Vick doesn’t leave his home when he is not supposed to, he will be sporting the latest celebrity fashion accessory – an electronic ankle bracelet monitoring device.
Judge Hudson also ordered Vick to continue mental health counseling as well as substance abuse counseling.
According to the court documents, Vick will be required to bear the expense of the electronic monitoring device and the counseling programs.
As we’ve reported before in previous Michael Vick articles, the judge is likely to take into account all of Vick’s behavior between the time he pled guilty on August 28th and his sentencing date on December 10th when deciding on an appropriate sentence for Vick.
Vick is facing up to five years in prison on the federal dogfighting charge to which he has already pled guilty. He could avoid the maximum sentence by being on his best behavior and fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation into the dogfighting ring that was operated out of a home that he owns.
The fact that Vick failed a drug test and violated a condition of his pretrial release may influence Judge Hudson to give Vick more jail time rather than less.
Vick had no prior criminal history before the dogfighting ring was discovered. However, he seems to get in deeper trouble day by day. The state dogfighting charges against him could carry a penalty of up to ten years in prison, in addition to the time he will likely spend behind bars for the federal conspiracy charge. If he fails another drug test, his next stop is likely jail, where he will await sentencing on December 10th.