It’s NFL season again, which means long Sundays in front of the TV, fantasy football leagues, tailgating, highlight reels…and occasionally some arrests at NFL games across the country. When you put upwards of 90,000 people packed in a stadium for half a day, with impassioned rivalries and a hefty amount of cold beer thrown into the mix, you’re bound to get some confrontations here and there, some of which rise to the level of involving police intervention. In the preseason alone, 10 people in Los Angeles were arrested over the course of two Rams games, and other arrests have taken place across the country. In the heat of the game, security staff and officers may act fast to make arrests and wait for investigators and prosecutors to sort out what party was truly at fault later, but if you find yourself under arrest at an NFL game, here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.
As a Stadium Spectator, You Are on Private Property
When you are out in public, such as on the road or walking along a sidewalk, the police cannot stop you without some kind of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. But when you enter into a stadium, you are entering someone else’s private property, and the owner of that property and its agents (read: security staff) have the right to remove you from that property if they believe you to be a danger, and they are not bound by the same constitutional restrictions as government agents. In fact, you’re likely to find language on the back of your ticket stub explaining this right to remove you from the premises.
What this means for you is that you’ll want to avoid resisting attempts by staff and police to remove you from the stadium against your will, as you might face criminal charges of trespass, disturbing the peace, or resisting arrest.
That Opposing Fan Might Be an Undercover Cop
Many altercations leading to arrests at NFL games are started between fans of opposing teams wearing the jerseys to make their conflicting allegiances clear. Local police departments have become hip to this, and police departments in Seattle, San Francisco, and perhaps elsewhere have taken to dressing undercover cops in the jerseys of opposing teams to patrol games and reduce violence. Which means that if you’re placed under arrest by what appears to be a rival fan, you will again want to avoid resisting arrest.
Follow the Arresting Officer’s Directions…
NFL tickets are expensive, and the idea of losing however much money you spent on your tickets (not to mention seeing the outcome of the game) by leaving the game early may seem like too much to bear, but, if you are asked to leave the game by an officer, your best bet is to suck up your losses and follow their direction. The cost of a resisting arrest or disorderly conduct charge is far more in the long run than the cost of your ticket.
…But Don’t Offer Any Incriminating Evidence
That said, you should never offer information to a police officer that might incriminate you unless you are doing so at the direction of your attorney. Under the US Constitution, you have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and a Sixth Amendment right to be represented by counsel anytime you are being interrogated by police. What is and is not incriminating may not be clear to you, and that is why you want your own lawyer there to guide you through any police questioning. Simply tell the officer that you would like to exercise your constitutional right to have an attorney present before answering any questions, and the officer is required to stop questioning you.
Experienced, Aggressive Criminal Defense in Your Pennsylvania Matter
For questions on any criminal law issue, or to get experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive defense in your Pennsylvania arrest, contact the criminal defense attorneys at The Martin Law Firm, P.C. today at 215-687-4053.