Two high school football players from Texas made national news after tackling a referee during a game. While that act has drawn widespread criticism, it also produced a somewhat surprising aftermath — a misdemeanor charge. Texas is one of 24 states that have laws addressing assaults against sports officials.
The incident was captured on video and subsequently uploaded to YouTube, where it soon spread across the Internet, gaining views as it went. Although it is not entirely clear why the two players decided to tackle the attending referee, records indicate that he had ejected two separate players with not much time left on the clock. After the game, the coach apologized, and both players have since been suspended.
But it is not just their high school football career on the line. While no charges have been filed yet, state law defines assaults committed against an official at a sporting event as either Class C or Class B misdemeanors. A Class C misdemeanor in Texas would mean no jail time if either of the boys were convicted, while a Class B could net upwards of 180 days behind bars.
Both the school and local authorities are continuing to look into the incident. While a Class C misdemeanor charge for assault might not result in any jail time, those convicted of such can still be on the hook for hefty fines in addition to the baggage of a criminal record, which can be an enormous burden to those who are still so young. Even in the absence of official allegations, it is often a good idea to begin defense preparations when subsequent charges are expected.
Source: Forbes, “Why High School Football Players Who Attacked Official Could Face Criminal Charges“, Bob Cook, Sept. 6, 2015