Consent in Criminal Law: Violence in Sports

Because there have been few criminal prosecutions for violence in sports, there are several difficult issues that have received only cursory analysis. This Note will focus on one such issue-the existence and effect of the consent of the injured party. In section I, it will analyze the various general theories relating to the nature of actual consent and will suggest that the current theoretical framework’s emphasis on ascertaining the victim’s subjective state of mind is, in some contexts, ill-conceived and unhelpful. It will argue that societal interests involved in human interactions should become a major focus of any analysis, particularly in the sports context where a traditional inquiry into subjective state of mind is most inappropriate. In section II, the Note will explore what effect such consent has on the liability of a person charged with criminal assault, both in general and in connection with conduct in a sports contest. It will demonstrate that analysis of effectiveness must also expressly consider societal interests both in allowing sports to flourish and in limiting violence.