Bill ups penalty for attacking refs and sports officials
TRENTON — A parent who attacks a referee or umpire during a game could face a $15,000 fine and up to five years in prison if a bill is passed by the New Jersey legislature.
Bill A3776 was originally introduced in 2016 by Republican Assemblyman David Rible but never made it out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It was reintroduced by deputy Assembly Speaker John Burzichelli earlier this month after Rible became head of New Jersey's Alcoholic Beverage Control.
If approved, the bill would raise the penalty for attacking a uniformed referee or sports official who is working a game to aggravated assault, the same as if a police officer, firefighter, or first responder was attacked.
"I think it's appropriate public policy. I think these athletic events should be someplace that is safe and that parents who act out and cause disruptions, maybe causing physical harm, that is something the law should be clear about," Burzichelli told New Jersey 101.5. He said such behavior sets a bad example for the kids.
"Imagine how kids react when they see adults act like that and interject themselves into a sporting event. It defeats the whole purpose of why we have youth sports," the 3rd Legislative District Democrat said.
If bodily harm were inflicted, the punishment could possibly reach a $15,000 fine and up to five years in prison. The penalty could be up to 18 months' imprisonment and a $10,000 fine if no bodily harm is inflicted.
Burzichelli said there are already laws on the books about assaults, but with many cases of overenthusiastic parents charging refs, he believed there needed to be clarity to the law.
The bill is currently up for a hearing by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.