Q: What happens if someone assaults a referee?
A: Pennsylvania gives referees (and all sports officials) special protection to discourage anyone from assaulting them. The protection comes from making the crime of Simple Assault more serious, and having a more harsh penalty. The referee does not need to be injured. There does not even have to be actual physical contact between the attacker and the referee, if the threat causes fear of serious bodily injury.
The special provision applies if the victim of a Simple Assault "is a sports official who was assaulted during a sports event or was assaulted as a result of his or her official acts as a sports official..." Pennsylvania Crimes Code §2712(a).
Sports events include scholastic, semi-professional, professional, and any other organized athletic activity in Pennsylvania. Sports officials are any persons at a sports event who enforce the rules of the event, or a person who supervises the participants, such as a coach, trainer, team attendant or game manager. Pennsylvania Crimes Code §2712(c).
The penalty for assaulting a sports official is a fine of up to $10,000.00, and imprisonment for up to Five Years. Pennsylvania Crimes Code §1101, 1104.