Criminal charges can be expensive for anyone. You could have to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars after getting charged with drunk driving, for example. You may have to pay thousands of dollars in fines for certain drug charges.
But for professional athletes, the cost can quickly spiral into the millions. The reason for this is that even criminal accusations can sometimes cost these athletes their jobs or their careers. They are very high earners, but only for a very short time. For instance, the average length of an NFL career is just 3.3 years. If an athlete misses out on a season or two, that could effectively end their career and cost them all of the money they ever would’ve made playing sports.
One thing to consider is simply that reputation matters in sports, and so professional organizations may be wary of signing someone who has previously been accused of criminal conduct. That individual is, therefore, at risk of losing future earnings. They may have spent the last 20 years practicing and honing their craft, but they could lose any chance to ever use that craft to support themselves.
This can all happen very quickly. For instance, Buffalo Bills punter Matt Ariza was accused of sexual assault and released days later. Las Vegas Raiders wideout Henry Ruggs was accused of causing a DUI accident and was cut the same day. Ruggs was on a contract worth more than $16 million, while Ariza was earning $3.8 million – and those aren’t even considered large NFL contracts.
You can see how important it is to know about your defense options if you have a high-profile career and you have been accused of a crime.