Ex-NFL running back Marcel Shipp just caught a huge break in his domestic violence case ... 'cause the charges were dropped after a key witness failed to show in court Monday ... TMZ Sports has learned.
Shipp -- a former Cardinals RB from 2001 to 2007 -- was facing over a year in prison after he allegedly got physical with a woman on a sidewalk in downtown Scottsdale in February.
40-year-old Shipp was hit with 3 misdemeanor charges -- including assault and disorderly conduct.
A hearing in the case was scheduled for Monday morning -- but the key witness was a no-show, prosecutors say.
Officials wouldn't specify if the witness was in fact the alleged victim -- but it seems likely.
It's not uncommon for domestic violence victims to stop cooperating with prosecutors after the initial report. Generally speaking, prosecutors often find it difficult to get a conviction without having a cooperative accuser, so when an accuser goes M.I.A., it usually means the case has sunk.
So, what does it mean for Shipp? He's off the hook for now -- but officials say the case CAN be refiled if the witness changes course and cooperates.
Marcel started 28 games in his career and rushed for 2,197 yards in seven total NFL seasons.