Can I Go to Jail in Florida for Interfering with a Sports Event?

November 22, 2023 Criminal Defense

Interfering with a sports or entertainment event will disrupt something that people paid money to attend. Interference can occur in many forms; common examples include running across the field or streaking—when a person strips naked and runs in front of a crowd or live audience. While this may seem like an innocent prank designed to achieve those 15 minutes of fame, you can actually face criminal prosecution. A new law in Florida has created stiffer penalties for any person who attempts this “attention-seeking” action.

This page will provide an inside look at the changes made through HB 319 and recent event interferences that took place in Florida.

HB 319

Titled “Interference with Sporting or Entertainment Events,” HB 319 passed through the House on March 31, 2023, and then the Senate on April 11, 2023. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill on June 5, 2023, and the law went into effect October 1, 2023.

In previous incidents where a person interfered with a public event, they could face charges for trespassing. The Florida House of Representatives states that under the previous law, there was no enhanced penalty for a defendant who trespassed or committed any other criminal offense specifically at an athletic competition or entertainment event.

Under HB 319, the Florida Statute Section 871.05 was created to prohibit any person from:

  • Intentionally touching or striking a covered participant during a covered event against the will of the covered participant, or intentionally causing bodily harm to a covered participant during a covered event; or
  • Willfully entering or remaining in a restricted area during a covered event without being authorized, licensed, or invited to enter or remain in such a restricted area.

The statute defines a “covered event” as an athletic competition or practice, including one conducted in a public venue, or a live artist, theatrical, or other entertainment performance event. The duration of such an event includes the period from the time when a venue is held open to the public until the end of the event or competition.

A “covered participant” can include any of the following:

  • Player;
  • Coach;
  • Umpire;
  • Officiating crew member;
  • Manager;
  • Groundskeeper; or
  • Any artistic, theatrical, or other performer or sanctioned participant in a covered event.
    • This can also include event operations and security employees working at the event.

Penalties for Interfering with a Sporting or Entertainment Event

Prior to HB 319, a person who interfered with a covered event would likely be prosecuted as a trespass or battery offense, which both carry up to a $1,000 fine. The recent changes have raised the maximum fine and established a new penalty for any person who attempts to profit or benefit from violating the law’s provisions.

Violating the provisions under Florida Statute Section 871.05 can result in a person facing either a misdemeanor or felony.

An individual who willfully enters and remains in a covered event, or who intentionally touches or strikes any specified person at a covered event faces a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum fine up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail.

An individual who solicits another person, or pays or encourages another person, to violate any of the above provisions faces a third-degree felony. The penalties for a third-degree felony conviction carry up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

Additionally, any person convicted under HB 319 is prohibited from profiting or benefiting from violating the provisions of the bill and provides that any such proceeds are subject to seizure and forfeiture.

Recent Sporting Event Interferences in Florida

  • 2020 Super Bowl – During the 2020 Super Bowl game at Miami Gardens, 27-year-old Kelly Kay ran onto the football field to “streak” or get naked on publicized TV. Kay ended up getting tackled by security before she could fully strip down. She claimed that she was so full of adrenaline that she did not realize how bad the takedown was. The Instagram model was arrested and charged with trespassing, facing up to a year in jail. However, the charges were later dropped.
  • 2021 Super Bowl – The following year the Super Bowl was held in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium. During the game’s fourth quarter, 31-year-old Yuri Andrade ran across the field in only a pink leotard. Andrade’s actions were part of a publicity stunt promoting an adult website owned by his friend. The streaker was arrested and charged with trespassing. The adult website’s owner, Vitaly Zdorovetskiy, paid another person $5,000 to distract the security so Andrade could get further in his streaking attempt.

Responses to HB 319

The new bill was sponsored by Rep. Taylor Yarkosky, who claimed the main reason for HB 319 was to stop the rise of streaking at sporting events.

“I have four daughters and a son,” Yarkosky said. “You save up money and take them out to a baseball game or a football game, and the last thing you want to see is somebody running around indecently for corrupt financial gain.”

In a recent interview with one of the Super Bowl streakers, Kelly Kay gave her thoughts on HB 319’s passing:

“I think it’s like a scare tactic…To tell people, ‘Not only are you going to get in trouble for this and go to jail, they’ll get a charge, we’re going to take your money. But if it was me and that law was in effect when I ran on the field, I would still do it because of the long-term effect.”

Yarkosky acknowledged that influencers may still be intrigued to streak for seeking fame but hopes that it will at least pause their actions.

“You’re gonna have the social media influencer, but you know, it could really hurt their career,” Yarkosky said. “There’s a lot of things that could happen, that they may think twice about doing that.”

Contact a North Florida Defense Attorney 

If you’ve recently been charged with a crime of streaking or causing an interference during an event in Florida, consider hiring the experienced defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm. After reviewing your case details during a free consultation, we can provide you with knowledge and insight on the upcoming legal proceedings. We will help to build your case a strong defense strategy. If the case requires going to trial, then our team will fight vigilantly to beat the charges and win your freedom.

Contact Don Pumphrey and the law offices of Pumphrey Law by calling (850) 681-7777 or sending us a message online.

Written by Karissa Key

Back to Top