Sports Injury or Assault with a Deadly Weapon?

Sports Injury or Assault with a Deadly Weapon? .

Anyone who has watched professional sports or even weekend warrior sports knows

  1. You can get hurt and.
  2. Some guys play dirty.

During the October 11 Dodgers/Mets Playoff game, Chase Utley allegedly slid into third base a little too late and broke the leg of the shortstop! Some commentators called it “just breaking up a double play” while others called it an illegal tackle. Major League Baseball suspended Utley. We have all seen fights on the sideline during hockey games where the referees stand by and watch, tackles in football at all levels hard enough to paralyze the player, and of  course there are boxers who have put another boxer in a coma.

Aren’t these assaults? Why not? A man pushes his partner in a drunk argument—he goes to jail. When someone plays rough in pro sports, they are almost never facing criminal charges. Some of you are old enough to remember Mike Tyson biting off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear 18 years ago in a heavyweight fight. In criminal court, that is considered aggravated mayhem and puts a person into prison.

So why don’t professional athletes go to jail for causing injury, playing dirty, and straightforward assault of the field? It’s called “consent”. For the same reason that two people who decide to fight on the street will not be charged with assault—assuming the fight is fair and no one keeps hitting when the other party is down, or uses a weapon, or has a friend jump in to help—that is considered “consensual.”

Off the field, a fight is still illegal— a violation of fighting in public—disturbing the peace at the very least. Professional athletes are considered to have consented to the normal roughness of the game. If someone is beaten on the sideline, or other roughness outside the normal risks of the game is used, there could be a player charged.

Of course it is more likely to happen to the weekend warrior, the person who plays in a beer league after work, than it is to a multi-million dollar athlete. From time to time, police do get called to a ball field whether it is soccer, football or baseball and sometimes a person is arrested—even charged—for using violence that goes beyond the scope of the player’s mythical consent.

Sports creates high emotion and aggression, and fights are more likely to happen in this arena than most others. However, when two parties fight during a league baseball or football game because of words on the field or a dirty player taking out their friend, that violence is not part of the game and can be prosecuted. Of course, what all the jurors watch on their television all weekend is likely to be taken into the jury room!

If you or someone you know is accused of a crime, arrested, or contacted by police, contact San Jose criminal defense attorney Maureen Baldwin at (408) 279-4450 to learn your options today!