Topic:
ASSAULT; CRIME; SENTENCING; LIABILITY (LAW); RECREATION (GENERAL); SPORTS;
Location:
CRIME AND CRIMINALS ; SPORTS;

OLR Research Report


December 11, 2006

 

2006-R-0747

LAWS ON ASSAULT OF A SPORTS OFFICIAL

By: Christopher Reinhart, Senior Attorney

You asked how many other states have specific crimes regarding assault of a sports official.

SUMMARY

We found 18 states with criminal laws regarding assault of a sports official. These states are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia.

These laws provide specific penalties either by creating a new crime or raising the penalty for one or more existing crimes when they are committed against a sports official. The laws vary in terms of what officials are covered and what levels of sports activities are covered. Some of these laws also cover coaches and other participants but we have not included that information in this report.

In addition to these criminal provisions, two states have civil statutes. Minnesota authorizes the Minnesota State High School League or a school board to ban someone from attending interscholastic activity for up to 12 months for assaulting a sports official. Oregon has a provision for liquidated damages of $500 to $1,000, in addition to any other damages, in civil cases for injuries suffered by a sports official.

CRIMINAL LAWS ON ASSAULT OF A SPORTS OFFICIAL

Table 1 summarizes the laws in each state by providing information on the criminal conduct required, penalties, covered officials, and covered events.

Table 1: State Laws Concerning Attacks on Sports Officials

State

Crime

Penalty

Covered Officials

Covered Events

Alabama

Ala. Code 13A-11-144

Commit one of the following crimes against a sports official performing official duties, because of performing those duties:

Harassment

Menacing

1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree assault

Harassment: Class B misdemeanor—up to six months in prison, up to $3,000 fine, or both

Menacing: Class A misdemeanor—up to one year in prison, up to $6,000 fine, or both

Assault 1st degree: Class A felony—10 years to life in prison, up to $60,000 fine, or both

Assault 2nd degree: Class B felony—two to 20 years in prison, up to $30,000 fine, or both

Assault 3rd degree: Class C felony—one to ten years in prison, up to $15,000 fine, or both

Anyone who enforces the rules of the event, such as an umpire or referee

Interscholastic or intramural events, primary school through college

Organized events sponsored by community, business, or nonprofit organizations

Professional or semi-professional events

Any organized athletic activity

Arkansas

Ark. Code 5-13-209

Striking or otherwise physically abusing an official during or immediately before or after an event in which the official participates

Class A misdemeanor: up to one year in prison, up to $1,000, or both

Athletic contest official

Interscholastic

Intercollegiate

Other organized amateur or professional event

California

Cal. Penal Code

243.8

Battery against official during or immediately before or after an event in which the official participates and the actor knows or reasonably should know the official is performing his duties

Up to one year in jail, up to $2,000 fine, or both

Referee, linesman, umpire, or similar official registered by or a member of an organization that educates and trains sports officials

Interscholastic

Intercollegiate

Other organized amateur or professional event

Delaware

Del. Code Ann. 11-614

Commit 2nd degree reckless endangering, 3rd degree assault, terroristic threatening, or criminal mischief against a sports official acting during or immediately before or after the event

$1,000 to $2,350 fine

Prohibited from participating and attending organized sporting events for three to 12 months

1st offense: Class A misdemeanor—up to one year in prison

2nd or subsequent offense: Class G felony—up to two years in prison

A registered, paid, or volunteer referee, umpire, line judge, or person acting in a similar capacity at a sporting event

Not defined

Table 1: -Continued-

State

Crime

Penalty

Covered Officials

Covered Events

Florida

Fl. Stat. 784.081

Assault or battery against a sports official actively participating in an athletic contest or immediately after and the actor knows or has reason to know the victim's identity, position, or employment

When the underlying crime is:

Aggravated battery: 1st degree felony—up to 30 years in prison, up to $10,000 fine, or both

Aggravated assault: 2nd degree felony—up to 15 years in prison, up to $10,000 fine, or both

Battery: 3rd degree felony—up to five years in prison, up to $5,000 fine, or both

Assault: 1st degree misdemeanor—up to one year in prison, up to $1,000 fine, or both

Referee, umpire, linesman, or similar official known by another title, registered or a member of a local, state, regional, or national organization that educates and trains sports officials

Athletic contest

Georgia

Ga. Code 16-5-23

Simple battery against sports official during event or while official is on or leaving property where he officiates

High or aggravated misdemeanor: up to one year in prison, up to $5,000 fine, or both

Anyone who officiates, including umpire or referee

Amateur events at elementary, secondary, intercollegiate, or recreational level

Illinois

720 ILCS 5/12-2

Assault, at an athletic facility, indoor or outdoor playing field, or within their immediate vicinity, when the official was an active participant in the athletic contest, and the actor knows the person is a sports official

Aggravated assault: class A misdemeanor—up to one year in prison, at least $1,000 fine.

2nd or subsequent—up to one year in prison, at least $2,000 fine.

Person at an athletic contest who enforces the rules, such as an umpire or referee

Any level of competition

Kentucky

KRS 518.090

Intentionally causing physical injury to sports official while the official is (1) performing his duties or (2) arriving or leaving the athletic facility

Assembling five or more people to assault a sports official

1st offense: Class A misdemeanor—up to one year in prison, up to $500 fine, or both

Subsequent offense: Class D felony—one to five years in prison, $1,000 to $10,000 fine

Class D felony

Referee, linesman, umpire, or similar person know by a different title, registered or a member of a national, state, regional, or local organization that educates and trains sports officials

Not specified

Table 1:-Continued-

State

Crime

Penalty

Covered Officials

Covered Events

Louisiana

LRS 14:34.4

Battery of school or recreation athletic contest official actively engaged in officiating when the actor has reasonable grounds to believe the person is an official

15 days to 6 months in prison and up to $500 fine or probation with two days in jail and five days of community service

Referee, umpire coach, instructor, administrator, staff person, or school or school board employee of any public or private elementary or secondary school

Referee, umpire, coach, instructor, administrator, staff person, or recreation employee of a public or quasi-public recreational program

School-sanctioned interscholastic event

Sanctioned recreation program event

Montana

MCA 45-2-211

Assault on a sports official

Up to six months in prison, up to $1,000 fine, or both

Not defined

Any sport at any level of amateur or professional competition

Nevada

NRS 200.471

Assault or battery, based on the performance of the official's duties at a sporting event when the actor knew or should have known the person was an official

Assault: Gross misdemeanor—up to one year in prison, up to $2,000 fine, or both

Assault with deadly weapon or ability to use one: B felony—one to six years in prison, up to $5,000 fine, or both

Battery: B felony (two to 10 years in prison, up to $10,000 fine, or both) or gross misdemeanor, with different penalties if committed with a deadly weapon depending on the type of harm

Different penalties apply when the actor is a probationer, prisoner, or parolee

Paid or unpaid referee, umpire, linesman, timekeeper, inspector, judge, or similar official

Contest, game, or other event involving athletic or physical skill of amateur or professional athletes

New Jersey

NJSA 2C:44-1 (a)(8)

Offense against sports official during or immediately following his duties or because of his status as a sports official

Must be considered an aggravating factor when determining whether to impose sentence of imprisonment

Sports official

Not specified

Table 1: -Continued-

State

Crime

Penalty

Covered Officials

Covered Events

New Mexico

NMSA 30-3-9.1

While official is working, supervising, or administering an event:

Assault

Aggravated assault (using a deadly weapon)

Battery

Aggravated battery

Assault: misdemeanor—up to one year in prison, up to $1,000 fine, or both

Aggravated assault: 3rd degree felony—three years in prison, up to $5,000 fine, or both (higher amounts if caused death)

Battery: misdemeanor

Aggravated battery, depending on the harm or use of a deadly weapon

3rd degree felony

4th degree felony: 18 months in prison, up to $5,000 fine, or both

Referee, linesman, umpire, timer, scorer, or similar official registered as a member of an organization that educates and trains sports officials

Not specified

North Carolina

N.C. Stat. 14-33(b)(9)

Assault, assault and battery, or affray against a sports official during an event while discharging his duties or immediately after the event

Class 1 misdemeanor—up to 45 days in prison, fine in court's discretion, or both (sentencing guidelines apply and can change penalties)

Anyone who enforces the rules of the event, such as an umpire or referee

Interscholastic or intramural events, primary school through university

Organized events sponsored by community, business, or nonprofit organizations

Professional or semi-professional events

Any organized athletic activity

Oklahoma

OSA 21-650.1

Assault and battery against a sports official

Misdemeanor – up to one year in jail, up to $1,000 fine, or both

Referee, umpire, timekeeper, coach, official, or other person having authority in connection with an athletic contest

Any amateur or professional event

Pennsylvania

18 Pa. Stat. 2712

Commits the crime of assault against a sports official during a sports event or as a result of his official acts

1st degree misdemeanor: up to five years in prison, up to $10,000 fine, or both

Person enforcing rules at a covered event, such as an umpire or referee

Interscholastic athletic activities from junior high through university

Any other organized athletic activity, including professional or semi-professional events

Texas

Penal Code 22.01

Commits the crime of assault against a sports participant

Class B misdemeanor: up to 180 days in prison, up to $2,000 fine, or both

Anyone who participates in an official capacity. Includes a referee, umpire, and linesman.

Interscholastic, intercollegiate, or organized amateur or professional athletic competition

West Virginia

W. Va. Code 61-2-15a

Commit the crime of assault or battery against an athletic official while he is acting as an athletic official

Assault: misdemeanor—1 to 30 days in prison, $50 to $100 fine, or both

Battery: misdemeanor—1 to 30 days in prison, $100 to $500 fine, or both

Person enforcing rules at a sports event, such as an umpire or referee

Not defined

CIVIL STATUTES

Two states have civil statutes. Minnesota authorizes the Minnesota State High School League or a school board to ban someone from attending interscholastic activity for up to 12 months for assaulting a sports official in connection with an interscholastic activity under the league's control, supervision, or regulation. The law applies to an umpire, referee, judge, linesperson, timer, scorekeeper, or similar official (Minn. Stat. 128C.08).

Oregon has a specific provision for damages in civil cases for injuries suffered by a sports official. The Oregon law provides liquidated damages of $500 to $1,000, in addition to any other damages, for a sports official when someone (1) intentionally makes offensive physical contact with him while serving as a sports official or briefly after, (2) the person knew he was an official, and (3) the contact occurred at or near the facility where he officiated. The law applies to a referee, linesman, umpire, judge, or similar official registered by or a member of an organization that educates and trains sports officials. The official can also recover reasonable attorneys' fees (Or. Stat. 30.882).

CR:ts