Assault is most often defined under the law as an offensive touching and in ordinary circumstances it is a crime binary option trading in india. Not so, usually, in sport where participants consent to the conduct . Obviously, the rough plays and brutal tackles of NFL football would result in criminal charges if done off the field. However, football players knowingly accept the risk to this activity even given the possibility of a career ending injury. Even so a line can be drawn where consent ends and criminal activity begins. To me, that line is crossed when there is a criminal agreement, before the sports activity begins, to seek out an opportunity to injure–for the sake of injury–an opponent.
New Orleans Saints defensive coordinate Gregg Williams appears to have crossed that line. The idea that Williams is criminally culpable is gaining momentum in sports and legal circles. Tapes have been released where Williams is heard urging Saint’s defenders to attack specific opponents and injure precise areas of their body. To many, Williams’ directives are no different than if he had told players to take a bat to the leg of an opposing running back before a game.
“As a football fan, I’m incensed by what I saw and heard,” says Bart Daniels, a former United States attorney in South Carolina. “As a lawyer, the other legal shoe is getting ready to drop. There’s going to be action taken. The question becomes, what action can be taken, and what action is likely going to be taken.” Williams is potentially liable for incitement or conspiracy to injure charges.
Williams has been indefinitely suspended while the Saints’ head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for next season. The GM was suspended for eight games and assistant coach Joe Vitt for six. Some believe the punishment leveled by the NFL is sufficient and that the legal system need not get involved. Others believe the behavior is so reprehensible that criminal punishment is in order.
Charging a crime is relatively easy; however, obtaining a conviction probably will be difficult. Why? Well, players knowingly risk harm by playing the game. Professional athletes understand that the risk of injury comes with the territory. Prosecuting the acts that cross the line between that known risk and criminal behavior could be hard. How do you convince a jury that a coach can persuade a grown man, often already paid millions of dollars, to commit a crime in a public arena?
Even cases that seem obviously criminal are usually not tried. Julio Castillo, a minor league pitcher, was sentenced to 30 days in jail in 2009 after he threw a ball toward the opposing dugout during a brawl in 2008. The ball hit a fan and caused a concussion. But that case was different because it involved a fan.
There are many reasons why prosecutors hesitate to file charges in sports cases. Proving a case is hard because potential witnesses are reluctant to testify, and even if they do, their testimony may carry with it the defense. Everyone knew the risk of injury and accepted it before they played the game. Winning a case is also hard because juries are reluctant to hold athletes to the same standards as people off the field. Yet, at some point, the conduct becomes so egregious that the government is forced into action. Depending on the amount and kind of information that is revealed about Williams the time for prosecution may have arrived.
Read: “Experts say Gregg Williams could face criminal charges,” by Matt Crossman, published at AOL.SportingNews.com.