Yesterday I had the pleasure of again making an appearance as a Legal Analyst on Fox-25 TV News/Boston. Here is the link to that media appearance: http://bit.ly/whyW4W The news team called me because I often serve as a Legal Analyst for them as a Boston, Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney.
I discussed the recent arrests of two students at Attleboro High School, for their public comments on Facebook where they exchanged comments describing planning for a Columbine-type shooting at the school. This was not, as I pointed out, two students talking to each other on the way home from school, about their dislike of a particular teacher. This projected the appearance of a conspiracy to commit Massachusetts crimes, involving possibly murder, assault and battery and mayhem. for all the world to see on Facebook. Under Massachusetts law, these statements constitute probable cause, and that is all that is needed to arrest these students, or anyone in Massachusetts.
It should be noted here that both these students, and other students at the school who were not arrested, have insisted that their comments on Facebook were just a prank, and not at all meant seriously. At their arraignment yesterday, they pleaded Not Guilty, and it’s important to remind people that these students are presumed to be innocent until they are judged guilty in a court of law. But regardless of what ultimately happens in these cases, these two youths will have these arrests and charges on their permanent record. In the worst case, they may even do jail time.
The moral of the story? As a Dedham, Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, I believe that parents should always be aware of what their children are posting on Facebook, and on the internet, and that they should monitor their kids’ internet conversations. In my view, to do otherwise is irresponsible and invites trouble that can come in a lot of different forms.