On Sunday night in Washington D.C., Nationals 19 year old baseball phenom Bryce Harper came up to bat in the bottom of the first inning. Veteran Phllies pitcher, Cole Hamels then proceeded to throw his first pitch directly at the lower back of Harper. Harper bent over in obvious pain for a few seconds, trotted off to first base, and then scored the first run of the game a few pitches later. After the game, the veteran pitcher admitted that he purposely threw the pitch in Harper’s direction, and fully intended to hit him. Hamels stated that throwing at Harper was his way of welcoming the rookie sensation to the major leagues. The commissioner of baseball however was not impressed with Hamels’ actions nor his honesty, and suspended the pitcher for 5 games.
The main issue up for debate throughout the country is whether Hamels’ actions hurt his team, and whether the suspension was deserved. But this being a Baltimore criminal lawyer blog, and not a sports blog, the relevant issue is whether the pitcher could be subject to criminal charges for his actions. The day after the incident, a Los Angeles prosecutor called ESPN radio’s Colin Cowherd and angrily boasted that if it were up to him, the pitcher would be facing felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges. The overzealous L.A. prosecuting lawyer argued that the pitcher would have no defense to the criminal charges because he confessed, and summarily convicted the pitcher of a felony on the air. There are two reasons why this prosecutor is entirely off base, one being legal and the other being ethical.
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