Blogs | Law Office of Jack L Zaremba


Illinois Law Protects Referees From Assault

illinois sports officials law

Interscholastic and youth sports serve a number of purposes for those who participate in them. Boys and girls can learn a great deal from being part of a team, including self-discipline, sportsmanship, and the importance of fair play, in addition to the benefits of increased exercise. Unfortunately, parents and coaches often lose sight of the true goals of youth and school sports as they become all but obsessed with the scoreboard and perceived slights on the court or field. In extreme cases, spectators, coaches, and even players may become so irate that they behave violently toward referees, umpires, and other officials. It is important to understand the risks of such behavior, as the penalties for attacking a sports official in Illinois can be severe.

Struggling With Sportsmanship

When a referee or umpire steps onto the field or court, he or she understands that players, spectators, and coaches will not agree with all of his or her calls. It is simply the nature of sports. Disagreement is one thing, but nearly every official has stories about parents or coaches getting too personal in expressing their displeasure with a call or ruling. It has gotten so bad in some regions that scholastic and recreational leagues are now struggling to find officials who are willing to tolerate the verbal abuse—often from people who do not know the rules themselves.

Things have gotten so bad that one NCAA basketball official recently filed a lawsuit against a media company whose radio broadcasters shared the official’s personal and business contact information during a game. Fans of the losing team allegedly used that information to harass the official’s business, and at least seven individuals threatened the man himself, according to reports.

Extreme Examples

In recent years, there have been a number of situations that went beyond insulting words and abusive language. Youth football parents and coaches have come onto the field to attack officials, basketball players have tackled referees, and soccer players have thrown punches. In two separate incidents —one in Utah and one in Michigan—soccer officials died after being punched for calls made on the field.

The Law in Illinois

Fortunately, there have not been many publicized accounts of officials being physically attacked in Illinois over the last few years. Perhaps this is due, at least in part, to the state’s criminal statute that specifically addresses violence against referees and umpires. An individual may face charges of aggravated assault for violent or threatening behavior against “a sports official or coach actively participating in any level of athletic competition within a sports venue, on an indoor playing field or outdoor playing field, or within the immediate vicinity of such a facility or field.”

Assault against a sports official is a Class A misdemeanor, an offense that carries penalties of up to one year in prison and up to $2,500. Additional charges for battery could also apply if physical contact is made, leading to even more severe consequences.

Contact Us for Help

Whether directed against a sports official or not, assault charges are extremely serious. If you or a loved one has been charged, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney . Call 815-740-4025 for a free confidential consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Drew Peterson Murder Conviction - "Drew's Law" Remains

drew peterson murder conviction

Courtroom dramas on TV and in the movies often provide the public with a glimpse of the legal process, frequently including tense exchanges between witnesses, attorneys, and judges resulting in an objection to hearsay testimony and a ruling of “sustained” from the bench. However, a recent ruling by the Illinois State Supreme Court could have a sweeping effect on the admissibility of second-hand testimony during a criminal trial.

So What is Hearsay?

Commonly considered rumor or second-hand testimony, hearsay is information reported by a witness that is not based on that witness’s direct knowledge of the facts or incident in question. The presentation of hearsay testimony was largely considered to be a violation of a defendant’s 6th Amendment right to confront one’s accuser. After all, how could a defendant, or their attorney, attempt to question or discredit hearsay if the individual believed to have actually made the statement is not available for cross examination?

A common exception to this rule is that of “deathbed testimony,” which is frequently ruled admissible because the court, rightfully or not, considers a person’s dying words to be more credible, since they would have no reason to provide false information.

A recent ruling in Illinois, however, has legal experts considering how future cases might be decided through the application of hearsay testimony.

Illinois Supreme Court Ruling

In 2014, Illinois resident Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the murder of his wife . The prosecution relied heavily on hearsay statements of third-party witnesses, who testified that the defendant’s deceased ex-wife (and a missing and presumed deceased fourth wife) made statements implicating the man. Originally ruled accidental, the ex-wife’s cause of death was ruled a homicide after the body was exhumed and re-examined.

Illinois legislators created and passed a hearsay law tailored to this specific case, dubbed “Drew’s Law”, which prosecutors used to secure the original conviction. The Illinois Supreme Court upheld the conviction, ruling that there was enough evidence to show that the defendant had likely killed both women to prevent them from testifying against him.

In its ruling, the state’s supreme court further found that the hearsay law passed in Illinois did not violate the defendant’s right to confront his accusers. Attorneys for the defendant indicated they would consider appealing the latest ruling against their client to the United States Supreme Court.

Present a Defense with the Assistance of a Knowledgeable Joliet Criminal Defense Lawyer

Whether you think criminal charges levied against you or a family member are serious or not, it is important to retain an attorney who practices criminal defense law. Representation by an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney will ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba will build a thorough and aggressive defense based on a meticulous review of your case and applicable laws.

When Criminal Charges Arise from “Harmless” Hazing

hazing criminal charges

Often described as a “harmless rite of passage,” or “tradition among members,” the issue of hazing frequently makes the news when an injury or even death occurs. When this happens, it is necessary for police to get involved, and that may result in those involved facing serious criminal charges .

Hazing Laws in Illinois

In 2014 , the Illinois legislature approved passage of a bill that criminalized the act of hazing. That law provides for the following:

• A person commits hazing when they knowingly act in a way or cause a situation that puts another at risk of bodily injury for the purposes of induction or admittance to any group, organization, or society connected with an educational institution.
• The action or situation is not authorized or sanctioned by the educational institution.
• Hazing is a Class A misdemeanor that may carry a sentence of up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
• Charges may be upgraded to a Class 4 felony if the action results in death or great bodily harm.
• A Class 4 felony may result in a sentence of between one and three years in prison, and a fine of up to $25,000 for an individual.

Making the Headlines

Even when claims or cases of hazing are reviewed and adjudicated by the learning institution at which they occur, it is still possible for those involved to face further punishment. This was the case in a recent incident which took place at a private college in suburban Illinois.

Following an incident of hazing that occurred during the previous school term, five football players were required by the school to write an essay and perform 50 hours of community service, and they were not allowed to play in the team’s first game of the 2016 season. Hospital personnel reported injuries sustained by the alleged victim of the hazing to local police. A lengthy investigation resulted in criminal charges of mob action, unlawful restraint, and aggravated battery for the five student athletes.

Rely on an Experienced Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney

Never attempt to defend yourself in court when facing prosecution for serious criminal charges that could result in your serving prison time or even a period of probation. Find a knowledgeable and aggressive Will County criminal defense lawyer who will work to ensure fair treatment by the court and the best possible outcome for your case. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba is dedicated to protecting your freedom and your rights by presenting a thorough defense for you.


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