Athletes and Special Treatment, Florida Any Different?

July 29, 2008 by David S. Seltzer

People always wonder, do athletes get special treatment? The answer is, in typical lawyer speak, "it depends." There are programs around the country designed to give first time offenders a break. A "get out of jail free card," if you will. In Miami, Florida, the program is called Pre-Trial Intervention ("PTI"). The purpose is to show an individual who has committed a qualifying crime what contact with the system is like in hopes to deter any future contact. Generally the conditions of PTI range from fines, donations, courses, to community service hours. Once the conditions are completed, the case is dismissed, the individual is eligible to have their record sealed and expunged, and life goes on!

So, athletes and celebrities who are also first time offenders are entitled to the same treatment. Just because they are in the public eye doesn't mean we should treat them differently. As I was working earlier today, I received a call from my home town of Montreal from Mitch Melnick at radio station Team 990. He wanted to know more about the Montreal Canadians hockey player whose case was dismissed in Tampa, Florida earlier today. As I understand the facts of the case, Ryan O'Byrne, along with a teammate Tom Kostopoulos, were charged in Tampa in February for an incident relating to theft and resisting arrest. Kostopoulos' case was dismissed; however, O'Byrne's remained open until today when it was dismissed in exchange for an apology and community service hours. (Charges dropped against Habs' O'Byrne after court apology, community service)

There are a whole host of reasons why a case gets dismissed, but again if a first time offender is taking responsibility and cooperating with the authorities, this type of result is not uncommon, famous or not. People make mistakes in life and the criminal justice system is supposed to be "somewhat" rehabilitative, no?!

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