The Tiger Woods Case: What Charges Police Could Be Filing

Elin Whispering To Tiger Woods

The tale of the Tiger Woods early-morning car wreck reads like a law school final — little actual facts are available so we’re left with a whole lot of speculation. 

Here’s what we know: Around 2:30 a.m. Friday morning Woods was backing his Escalade out of his driveway and hit a fire hydrant and then a neighbour’s tree. His wife, Elin Nordegren, broke the back window with a golf club, reportedly to help extract Woods from the vehicle. According to police and other officials, Woods suffered cuts to his face and was drifting in and out of consciousness.  He was treated at a local hospital and was released that same morning.

Tiger posted a statement saying the incident was “entirely” his fault and his attorney, Mark NeJame, has said his client will not speak to police. Woods is, of course, fully entitled to refuse to speak to police.

Florida police said they are investigating the matter and that charges are pending.    

But of course, there’s rampant speculation. Woods’ fairly vague statement did little to temper that and the police have not said what charges are “pending” or, for that matter, who they are pending against.  

So, what could the police be investigating?

  • Domestic Violence: The sometimes-reliable — and sometimes very unreliable — TMZ reported that Woods told a friend Nordegren caused the injuries to his face. Police told CNN this weekend neither party mentioned an argument and that they did not believe it was a “domestic issue.”  But, considering the possibility that Woods’ injuries were caused by his wife is all over the news, police are probably now at least looking into it.  Domestic violence claims are very hard to prove when the alleged victim does not wish to press charges or testify against the alleged attacker. Prosecutors, do, however, often bring these cases even without the victim’s cooperation (it is not uncommon for victims to tell the police they’ve been harmed and then refuse to testify).   If both Woods and Nordegren continue to decline to talk, police and prosecutors would only have whatever evidence they can pull together, such as that his injuries were inconsistent with the wreck. Woods and Nordegren could of course be compelled to testify, but they could both continue to refuse to talk by pleading the 5th Amendment, which would make prosecutors unlikely to put them on the stand. With such minor injuries (and injuries that will be less obvious the longer he waits to talk to police) and neither Woods nor Nordegren alleging abuse, a conviction would be a very uphill climb.  
  • Filing a False Police Report: If either Woods or Nordegren lied to police about the circumstances of the wreck, they could be charged with filing a false police report, which is a misdemeanour in Florida. If police really feel like Woods, Nordegren or both were untruthful about the incident, or they believe there was domestic violence but lack the testimony to prove it, this is a charge they might consider, as it is much easier to prove with just physical and documentary evidence.
  • DUI: Some reports have said that one reason Woods might have been coming in and out of consciousness is that he was on prescription pain medication. This, of course, is unconfirmed. But it is possible he could be charged with DUI if he was driving under the influence of a drug that was impairing his “normal faculties.

Considering the facts — or, perhaps, considering the speculation, the above charges are what the police are most likely considering.  It would be unlikely for them to pursue some sort of disturbing the peace charges, as it appears until the wreck, there was no evidence anything was happening at the Woods’ home.  

The police and prosecutors will likely only waste a whole lot of time and money on this case if they can get some sort of conviction.  If anything, a charge related to misleading the police would be the most likely, and that is a misdemeanour.  And that’s only if police can prove they were lying.  

Our guess (and, with such little info available, that’s what it is) — is little will happen.  They’ll move on, we’ll move on and Tiger Woods will be back winning golf tournaments in fairly short order.

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