Fans of the Philadelphia Eagles are famous (or notorious) for the depth of their devotion to their team. They are some of the most vocal and demonstrative fans in the NFL, so when their team wins the really big games – like the Super Bowl – the celebrations can go on for hours and fill the streets with happy supporters. But Eagles fans don't stop there; when the Eagles lose the big game, as they did the other day, when the Chiefs defeated them 38-35, fans still take to the streets to share their grief.
In either case, it's not unusual for a few of those fans to cross the line from simply expressing their feelings about the loss (or win, as the case may be) to criminal behavior. Even before this year's Super Bowl, Eagles fans filled the streets of Philadelphia and were seen flipping a car. And afterward, police reported multiple arrests as grieving Eagles fans confronted cops in riot gear. And with Philadelphia being just across the Delaware River from New Jersey, many loyal Eagles fans live in New Jersey and are subject to New Jersey law if their demonstrations on that side of the river go a bit too far.
Here are some of the laws that can apply in New Jersey when crowds gather to mourn a loss or celebrate a victory and things go in the wrong direction:
You can be found guilty of disorderly conduct in New Jersey if you are fighting or threatening to fight in public, or if you use “unreasonably loud and offensively coarse or abusive language” and direct it at any other person. A conviction is a petty disorderly persons offense (a type of offense in New Jersey), with a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and up to a fine of $500.
Vandalism or Criminal Mischief
Vandalism in New Jersey is covered by its criminal mischief statute, which penalizes a wide range of behavior, including knowingly damaging property that belongs to someone else, or tampering with it in a way that endangers another person or the property. There are several levels of criminal mischief, with the difference usually depending on the type of damage that was done to the property. Convictions can range from a disorderly persons offense to a crime of the third degree. A third-degree conviction can result in up to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
There are three kinds of assault in New Jersey: simple, aggravated, and assault by auto or vessel. You can commit simple assault if you attempt to or do cause bodily injury to another person, or attempt “by physical menace” to make someone else fear that you are about to injure them. Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense that can result in up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Aggravated assault occurs when you attempt to or do cause serious bodily injury to someone else, or attempt to or do cause bodily injury with a deadly weapon, or if you point a firearm at someone else. It also applies if you commit what would otherwise be a simple assault against a police officer, fire
, and can result in a prison term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $150,000
Assault by vehicle happens when you use a vehicle to strike someone else, or attempt to do so. A conviction is a fourth-degree offense
, and can put you in prison for up to 18 months and result in a fine of up to $10,000.
There are two levels of criminal arson in New Jersey: arson and aggravated arson. You can be charged with arson if you start a fire that recklessly puts another person in danger of being injured or killed, or puts a piece of property in danger of being damaged or destroyed. Aggravated arson occurs when you purposely do the same thing. Arson is a third-degree offense with a potential sentence of up to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines, and aggravated arson is a second-degree offense with a potential sentence of up to ten years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines.
Joseph D. Lento Has Experience Defending Clients in These Situations
If you've been arrested and charged with a crime committed during a post-game celebration, contact Joseph D. Lento for help. He has been representing clients in New Jersey who find themselves in similar situations for years, and has a deep understanding of how the law in New Jersey and how the court system works. Contact Joseph D. Lento today at 888.535.3686, or reach out to the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team online to learn more about how he can help you.