Rafael Furcal to Compete in Playoffs Despite Parole Violation

Judge lets Furcal compete in playoffs (AJC)

Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal can compete in the playoffs despite his recent arrest on DUI charges, a judge ruled Wednesday morning . Once the Braves’ playoff run ends, Furcal will begin a 49-day sentence for violating terms of his probation, State Court Judge David Darden said. Darden ordered Furcal to be confined at 5 p.m. the day after the baseball season ends. The infielder, charged with DUI Sept. 10 in Atlanta, will spend 21 days at the Cobb County Jail and then be transferred by deputies to a 28-day inpatient treatment program where he will remain confined, Darden said. Furcal was 49 days short of completing a one-year probation for a June 2000 DUI conviction. The sentence allows the leadoff hitter to make the team’s first playoff game at 4 p.m. today against the visiting Houston Astros.

Until the end of the season, Darden ordered that Furcal not participate in any Braves celebrations, that he be confined to his home or hotel except while playing, and that he be monitored around the clock. The Braves have agreed to appoint someone to monitor him and a probation officer will be able to check in on him at any time. Darden commended Furcal for admitting he had a drinking problem and for seeking treatment.

Furcal, dressed in an athletic jacket, did not speak to the media. After the hearing, defense attorney William Head said an agreement was being worked on with Atlanta prosecutors so that his client will not serve any more time behind bars for the Sept. 10 offense. Cobb officials said Furcal’s travel schedule made him ineligible for the standard work release program.

As a Braves fan, I’m glad to see the team and its are not going to be punished for Furcal’s indiscretions. And I’ve got mixed feelings about the way we handle DUI cases, anyway. This does seem to be part of a growing trend, though, of athletes getting special treatment by judges, such as the decision to let Ravens running back Jamal Lewis serve his six month sentence in his federal drug conspiracy case over the offseason. One wonders if such dispensations are given to non-celebrities whose work schedule is seasonal.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Sports,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Meezer says:

    What do you think we should do about DUI? As someone who was t-boned at 60 mph by an un-licensed drunk driver last April 19th and will henceforth limp the rest of my life, I am very interested. This is not snarkiness; I want to know.

  2. James Joyner says:


    Mainly, I’d establish a more reasonable limit in terms of blood alcohol content, for one thing. Right now, there are states that have it so ridiculously low that anyone who’s had half a beer is “intoxicated.”

    We also treat vastly differently people with the same level of intoxication based on outcomes. So, someone who is cruising along and gets pulled over by a cop gets one penalty–reasonably low–whereas someone who gets in an accident and injures someone is treated as a felon. It’s the same act; the consequence is happenstance. I’d largely deal with that through the civil system–it’s a personal injury, not criminal malice.

  3. Mark says:

    Don’t forget the case of the U.S. Olympic athelete (she was on the Synchronized Swimming team): she was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to jail, but the judge decided to let her serve her time after she got back from Athens.

  4. norbizness says:

    Here’s to Furcal going 0-4 with 3 Ks and an error in the field.

    Go (dis)Astros!