Recently, Philadelphia 76er Mike Scott found himself involved in scuffle outside of Lincoln Financial Field prior to an Eagles. Smith, originally from Virginia, encountered some tailgaters in the stadium parking lot who took issue with his Washington Redskins Jersey. New outlet, TMZ, acquired video footage of incident which show Scott physically engaged following what appears to be some words. It doesn’t appear that Mr. Scott will face any criminal charges nor will he face any discipline in the form of fine or game suspension.
Unlike most Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers, our firm regularly provides information following an incident involving a professional athlete or celebrity to demonstrate that legal issue can develop at any time and regardless your income or status. We have written previous articles on athletes like LeSean McCoy, Johnny Manziel, Odubel Herrera and Damien Wilson. I encourage you to read these articles which address interesting issues. Our law firm represents accused involved against a variety of offenses and crimes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We have represented individuals charged with the possession of illegal drugs, narcotics, guns, firearms, drunk driving and assault charges.
While Scott won’t face any charges at this point as it appears he was defending himself. Read my article on self defense. We have represented many clients charged following incidents at various sporting or music events in Philadelphia, its surrounding counties and New Jersey. Typically, in these situations accused persons face criminal charges for the violation of Pennsylvania or New Jersey for the following:
Aggravated assault is the most serious as it is a felony offense in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Aggravated assault is a felony of the first degree or the second degree depending on the actor’s intent. Aggravated assault is a felony of the first degree if the prosecution can show the serious bodily injury caused intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances “manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” or an attempt to cause it. The prosecution must establish all elements of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
An aggravated assault of the second degree occurs when a person causes or attempt to cause bodily injury intentionally or knowingly with a deadly weapon. A deadly weapon is defined very broadly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Aggravated assault of the second degree is also committed when a person intentionally and knowingly causes bodily injury to a police officer or some other protected person such as a firefighter, EMS, or teacher.
Unlike Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault is a misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania. A simple assault occurs when a person causes or attempt to cause bodily injury intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. Simple assault also includes bodily injury “negligently” caused with a deadly weapon (this includes a handgun or other firearm). Simple assault is a much less serious offense and it is a misdemeanor of the second degree unless it is a fight started by “mutual consent” in which case it’s a misdemeanor of the third degree. If Mike Scott faced criminal charges, this would have been the likely offense charged.
If and when McCoy and this group is charged, don’t expect any type of plea to anything but perhaps the lowest graded simple assault (misdemeanor of the third degree). Any type of admission of guilt, however, would clearly expose McCoy to civil liability and a potential lawsuit from the police officers and possibly their significant others (loss of consortium claim). McCoy, however, could plead no contest to preserve perhaps civil defenses
Again, however, if charged Scott would have a strong argument for self-defense as it appears that this group referred to “F-Lot” initiated the contact with him.
Terroristic Threats & REAP Charges
Terroristic Threats (Title 18, Section 2706) and Recklessly Endangering Another Person (Title 18, Section 2705) (REAP) are misdemeanors with some exception (yelling fire in a movie theater as a prank – felony of the third degree). While both of these crimes involve communication (words or acts) each focuses on different situations and therefore requires the District Attorney (prosecution) to prove different elements beyond a reasonable doubt to support a conviction. This is the evidentiary standard in any criminal trial.
REAP is a misdemeanor of the second degree and it is committed when the accused person “recklessly engages” in conduct which puts or threatens to put another person in fear of death or serious bodily injury. It is important to understand that this crime focuses not only on the actions of the accused but also on the reaction of the alleged victim. If you are charged with REAP it is critical that your criminal defense attorney attempt to show that the alleged victim didn’t exhibit any sign of fear or apprehension during the incident. Your criminal defense lawyer can do this through a cross examination of the victim which demonstrates that this person initiated an argument or a fight or at the very least acted aggressively during the incident.
What About Disorderly Conduct Charge?
Again, this criminal charge is unlikely based on the video footage. Disorderly conduct is generally graded as a summary offense. It can be graded as a misdemeanor of the third degree if the intent of the actor is to cause substantial harm, serious inconvenience or the person persists in the disorderly conduct.
A critical component of disorderly conduct is the public’s involvement in it. If the conduct never becomes public, there is no disorderly conduct. Pennsylvania defines “public” conduct as affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access. These places would include schools, apartment houses, place of business, any neighborhood or any premises which are open to the public.
Simple Assault in New Jersey
In New Jersey a person commits simple assault under 2C: 12-1 (a) if he or she attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, recklessly causes bodily injury to another or negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. A person also commits simple assault in New Jersey under subsection (3) if he or she attempts, by physical menace, to put another under fear by imminent bodily injury. This is the criminal charge that Mr. Herrara is facing in this case.
New Jersey, unlike Pennsylvania, doesn’t classify crimes or offenses as misdemeanors or felonies, but rather as indictable offenses (crimes—1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th degrees), disorderly persons, and petty disorderly persons. Simple assault is a disorderly person’s offense (non-indictable) unless it is committed during a fight entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly offense. Simple Assault is usually graded as misdemeanor of second degree in Pennsylvania but can be graded as a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Aggravated Assault in New Jersey
While aggravated assault in New Jersey, like Pennsylvania, is committed when one attempts to cause serious bodily injury or causes such injury purposely or, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, recklessly causes such injuries (subsection 1). Aggravated assault is a crime of the 2nd degree in these situations and a crime of the 3rd degree where a person attempts to cause or purposely causes bodily injury with a deadly weapon or recklessly causes bodily injury with a deadly weapon. Here, aggravated assault is graded as a crime of the 3rd degree. It is a crime of the 4th degree if a person knowingly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, points a firearm at another whether or not the actor believes that the firearm is loaded.
The bottom line is that Mike Scott had a right to defend himself and this probably the reason why nothing will come from this incident. If you would like more information on criminal defense and strategies I encourage you to read one of my books, watch my videos, or subscribe to my monthly newsletter.