In 2002, New Jersey passed a law that calls for a mandatory upgrade of an assault charge if authorities believe an assault happened at a youth sports event. Simple assault charges usually fall into the disorderly persons category and carry a misdemeanor status. However, what would normally be a simple assault charge can be given a felony status if the altercation occurred at a youth league game.

Recently, two adults and one juvenile were charged with assault after a post-game argument on a Riverside, New Jersey, basketball court. Spectators, a coach and a man serving as timekeeper reportedly became engaged in a number of physical altercations after two teen players started arguing. Because the alleged fighting occurred at a youth league game, the assault charges against the two men and a juvenile spectator were upgraded to a fourth-degree felony status.

A fourth person, the wife of the coach facing charges, was accused of disorderly conduct. Authorities released her on her own recognizance, and she is supposed to appear in court at a later date.

The coach and the timekeeper are also facing charges of disorderly conduct.

Police released the 16-year-old juvenile to a parent, and the coach and the timekeeper reportedly posted bail.

Being convicted of fourth-degree felony assault can result in a maximum jail sentence of 18 months. However, depending on the available evidence, it may be possible to have the charge reduced or dismissed. In any case, individuals accused of assault will need a defense strategy to protect their rights and freedom.

Source: Burlington County Times, “3 adults, 1 teen charged after Riverside youth hoops fights,” David Levinsky, Feb. 3, 2014