Recently in Colorado, a viral video captured parents engaging in a brawl by choking, shoving, and throwing punches at each other. The viral video depicts an adult choking another, followed by several others rushing toward the fence where the initial conflict began. All of this occurred at an elementary school among 7-year-old children participating in a youth baseball game. The fights are alleged to stem from a call made by the umpire who is only 13 years of age. This brawl resulted in several injuries, citations for disorderly conduct and fighting in public, and ongoing investigations for several parents involved.
In Florida, a brawl of this nature is likely to lead to battery charges. Florida law defines battery as actually and intentionally touching or striking another person against their will or intentionally causing bodily harm to another person. A battery charge is a misdemeanor of the first-degree and a person convicted of such charge can be sentenced up to one-year imprisonment and imposed fines. If a parent involved in a brawl as portrayed in the video has prior battery or aggravated battery convictions, the battery charge can be increased to a felony battery. Felony battery is a third-degree crime. Conviction of such a crime can result in up to five years imprisonment and imposed fines.
In addition to the battery, a person participating in a brawl at a sporting event may receive assault or disorderly conduct charges. Assault is defined by Florida law as an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, with the apparent ability to do so, and creates a well-founded fear in such other person that violence is imminent. Disorderly conduct is defined by Florida law as acts that corrupt public morals, outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them or engage in brawling or fighting. A conviction of assault or disorderly conduct is considered second-degree misdemeanors which can carry up to sixty days in jail and fines.
Although there is no excuse for getting into a fight at a youth sporting event, there may be some defenses that may help you. These include self-defense and defense of others. However, mere wounds alone cannot legally justify punching someone. If your behavior is questionable or if it is in self-defense, we may look into past encounters you may have had with the other person to establish you may have been in fear of them.
Should you find yourself receiving a battery, assault, or disorderly conduct charge, resulting from an altercation at a youth sporting event or involved in a brawl similar to the viral video from Colorado, it is important to consult with an attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to plan a course of action which may include defenses and the possibility to reduce pending charges.