Monday, December 19, 2011

A Legal Look At The Milbury Case

Mike Milbury is facing a criminal charge of assault and battery upon a child. Under this Massachusetts law, a person found guilty of this crime can face up to 5 years in prison.  As per reports, he may also be charged with threatening to commit a crime and disorderly conduct.

A "child" under this law is "any person under fourteen years of age".

I have focussed on Massachusetts law because the alleged crime occurred in that state (specifically in Brookline). 

Milbury has not been formally charged, so those reports were wrong. The boy wasn't hurt according to reports.

Brookline has indicated that there is a video of the incident, which will shed light on the merits of a possible case against Milbury. 

What happened here? Not clear. On the one hand, the mother of the player allegedly assaulted has said that Milbury grabbed, threatened and shook her son. She also alleges that Milbury picked her son up by his shirt and was screaming and swearing at him.

Milbury says that he never struck or assaulted the player, but did grab him by his uniform to cut short the on-ice scrum that he contends was a product of the persistent bullying his son, Jake, faced. Milbury denied an assault "of any kind" in a statement from his lawyer, Daniel Rabinovitz

According to his lawyer, Milbury simply "intervened in an altercation between his son and an opposing player...No one was struck, no one was injured and no one was threatened."

Here's more from an article at

Needham resident Peter Weiner, whose son Cole is a goalie on Jake’s team, the Boch Blazers, in a phone interview yesterday afternoon confirmed Milbury’s account. Weiner said he was there throughout the night, witnessed Jake "being needled pretty much all game" and lauded Milbury for helping to restrain the skirmishing players.
"All he did was stop the kids. And on top of it, he booted his own kid off the ice.’’ 
Weiner, when asked if Milbury used excessive force to restrain the Blackhawks player or otherwise punched, struck, kicked, or physically abused the 12-year-old, added, "He did not ..... he absolutely did not, and that’s 100 percent accurate. All he did was separate two kids, and I saw his own boy leave the ice in tears."
As per the article, Milbury "was acting as both a parent defending his bullied child and as an assistant coach concerned about the safety of both players when he helped defuse the dust-up between his son".

Jack Hauswirth, the head coach on Milbury’s team, restrained Milbury’s child.

Assault Charge

The charge of assault against a minor may be tough to make out if there was no bodily harm inflicted on the boy (remember this is a serious crime with up to 5 years in prison). Still, we need to wait and see.

Threatening To Commit A Crime

With respect to the threatening to commit a crime (which is a common charge in the state of Massachusetts), it must basically be shown that there was a legitimate fear the crime of assault would be committed.

Massachusetts laws permit punishing someone who is convicted of threatening to commit a crime with a $100.00 fine and/or up to 6 months in jail. 

Disorderly Conduct

Under Massachusetts law, if you cause a disturbance which creates a public hazard, and serves no legitimate purpose, you can be charged with a disorderly person offense, also known as disorderly conduct.

Engaging in fighting or threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior can constitute disorderly conduct.

It's punishable by up to 6 months in jail.

It's tough to know what will happen here. Again, the video will have probative value. However, at first glance, working the peacemaker angle may help Milbury.

It's highly unlikely that Milbury will go to jail. 

The damage may have already been done. He's off CBC and NBC for now. Given recent events, there is little tolerance for any crime against minors, and for that reason Milbury's disappearance from TV was not surprise.

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