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Lesser Punishments for National League Athletes in Criminal Cases

Former NFL wide receiver David Boston’s hands brought him years of glory on collegiate and professional football fields. But in Palm Beach County court Friday, those hands led to a jail sentence (source, full story).

Circuit Judge Charles Burton ordered Boston to immediately begin serving a six-month term for an aggravated battery conviction. Boston, 34, last month pleaded guilty to the felony charge that resulted from a Nov. 30, 2011, incident involving a female friend at a home in Boca Raton.

Boston, during an alcohol-fueled confrontation, hit a woman above the left eyebrow, creating a wound requiring 10 stitches. Burton compared that “violent act” to being “like Mike Tyson hitting you,” unlike weaker people who aren’t star athletes.

But the judge also gave the former Miami Dolphins player a big break, declining a request from Assistant State Attorney Christy Rogers for Boston to serve a four-year sentence. Rogers had cited two prior arrests on different charges.

Burton said he agreed to impose less jail time and order five years of probation because of evidence from a defense expert showing that Boston suffers from a brain disorder unrelated to substance abuse problems.

USA Study On Punishments For Professional Athletes

Athletes often misbehave for the same reasons that other young, non-celebrity people might misbehave; more often than not, alcohol is involved. Despite being consistently advised on their responsibilities both as role models in their communities and as representative of their designated sport, however, professional athletes both old and young continue to display anti-social behaviour (source) .

Domestic violence is the leading crime committed by athletes in a number of reports, and the incidences of physical attacks can begin early in an athlete’s career. Even at the collegial level, student-athletes are paving the way for their future as a professional. According to the Benedict-Crosset Study of sexual assaults, student-athletes were found to commit one in three sexual assaults at thirty major Division I universities in the United States (Valen 2009).

It is clear that athletes have been and will continue to behave poorly, and that the media will usually pick up on their transgressions. What is less clear, however, is why the punishments for these professional athletes differ so greatly from the punishments of those in civil life who have committed the same crime.

In the United States, court-ordered community service is often used as an alternative disciplinary action to jail time and other harsher punishments. It is a criminal sentence, mostly used in cases of misdemeanor to punish first-time or non-violent offenses. Defendants are often allowed to choose when, where and how they fulfill their hours of required community service. But community service acts between professional athletes and those in civil life often differ greatly.

In 2006, USA Today investigated forty cases since 2001 in which professional athletes were ordered by a court to complete various amounts of community service. The crimes of these athletes ranged from assaulting fans, police, wives and girlfriends; having sex with minors; driving while intoxicated; possessing illegal drugs; carrying concealed weapons; firing pistols in public and vehicular homicide. For a non-celebrity, the court-ordered community service that would be expected of an offender might involve tasks such as digging ditches, collecting roadside trash, cleaning public parks and other labour-intensive work.

But for 50% of the cases examined, the professional athletes hardly picked up a shovel nor touched a single piece of rubbish. Instead, they fulfilled their community service duties by participating in activities such as throwing a ceremonial first pitch at a Major League Baseball game, coaching at a youth sports camp, collecting tickets, posing for photographs and signing autographs for enthusiastic fans.

In 30% of the cases, the community service punishment was “unable to be determined,” mostly due to the courts of probation agencies closing or destroying the athlete’s criminal records.

In only 15% of the cases did the professional athletes receive a punishment similar to the kinds of community service projects that civilians would fulfill—such as picking up rubbish on the side of the road. Of the forty cases, only two went to trial. Almost all of the athletes reached plea bargains or were allowed participation in a pretrial diversion program, in which no plea is required and all charges are dismissed once the community service is completed and fines are paid in full.

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West Palm Beach Aggravated Battery Defense Attorney

At the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., in West Palm Beach, Florida, we represent people charged with aggravated battery and assault. Circumstances leading to this charge include assault or battery involving:

  • Firearms
  • Victims over the age 64
  • Victims under the age of 18
  • Severe injuries, such as broken bones, serious scars, or disfigurement

If you were charged with aggravated battery, it is important to contact a lawyer that understands the seriousness of the charge and knows how to defend against it. At Andrew D. Stine, P.A., we have extensive experience representing people charged with aggravated assault and battery. Our defense team reviews the evidence and conducts private investigations in order to find holes in the prosecution’s case.

In Florida criminal law, a motive to hurt another individual is a major factor in the prosecution’s case. If you had no motive to seriously injure another person, the charges can be reduced or dropped.

Free consultation 24/7: Call West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at (561) 832-1170. Se habla español.Andrew Stine has handled many aggravated battery and assault cases. He can often identify the true motive behind the charge, including lying to win a child custody battle or property dispute.

Reducing the Consequences of Aggravated Battery

Aggravated battery charges result in serious penalties, including a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years for pointing a gun at someone. If the gun is fired, the minimum sentence is 20 years. If the victim dies, our clients face life in prison.

We encourage our clients to immediately complete community service hours, enter a gun safety course and write a letter of apology to the victim. By being proactive, show the prosecution your true character and work with them to reduce some of the consequences.

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