Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

16-YEAR-OLD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT IS CHARGED WITH FELONIES FOR CYBER-THREAT

The occasions in which I find myself looking up at the sky and shouting, “Really? Again? Is anybody ever going to start learning?”

But, then I remember that they are kids and, as long as they suffer from that affliction…probably not.

A 16-year-old Mashpee High School student has been charged with a felony and two misdemeanors, including threatening to commit a crime and disturbing a school assembly.

You’ve got it…another threatening Twitter story.

The young brain-trust apparently threatened that he or she was going to shoot everyone up at the school. Less than one month after the Newtown Connecticut shooting.

And so, quite rightly, Mashpee Police Chief Rodney Collins explains that “When someone says in a tweet that they’re going to shoot everyone up, we’re going to get involved.”

It was on Monday that the school officials received the printed copy of a Twitter communication between the student-at-issue and a Rockland teen which contained the threat. Just to make sure that nobody missed it, I guess, the Rockland High School Principal Alan H. Cron wrote a letter about it and posted it on the school’s website.

News travels fast in our cyber-aware society. Soon, the message was brought to the attention of the Mashpee police. Next came the detectives’ investigation for the cyber-crime. Then came the arrest of the alleged teen-aged author.

So, what was the occasion of this violent threat?

Well, it turns out that the alleged threat was apparently made before a highly anticipated basketball game between the two schools, which are rivals in the South Shore League. Both had 8-0 records going into Monday night’s game at Rockland High. Rockland beat Mashpee 78 to 51.

There was additional security for the game, according to Cron’s statement.

No shooting.

Arrested and future scarred anyway.

Rah rah bloody rah!

Attorney Sam’s Take The Crime Of Cyber-Threats And Kids

You had best warn your kids, because one of these little errors of judgment can ruin their lives the way the criminal justice system is set up now.

Unless and until we take the steps to insert some common sense. You know, behave as if we have what we know that many kids do not.

The problem is that kids are kids. They are emotionally, psychologically and biologically kids. Their brains are not fully developed. In many ways, they simply don’t “get it”. Oh, they will realize it years later looking back. But, by then it will be too late.

Let’s go through this again very quickly. For the more drawn-out versions, check my earlier blogs on the subject. There are plenty.

Tammy Teamspirit is really into her school and all the teams. Naturally, the school rivals are her rivals. Part of the experience. It is fun.

By the way, we encourage this! At home and at school.

One day, before a big game, words are passed. Perhaps some kids from the rival team drive by and shout out things like “we are going to pulverize you at the game” (a crime in itself, incidentally). That night, she tweets something in response. Maybe it was “We are going to blow you off the face of the map”.

No, she does not have a bunch of explosives in the garage.

The authorities are notified. Clearly, the police will investigate. To be on the safe side, they should investigate. The problem is that they are likely to arrest her for the threat.

Yes, she is a juvenile. However, that only means she goes to juvenile court. It still goes on her CORI. She will still need to answer for it as she applies to other schools or certain jobs.

She will also likely be suspended or expelled from school. So, the school record, if not treated quickly and correctly is now also a loss.

This may or may not be the way you prefer things were handled…but this is how they are handled.

Be aware. Make your kids be aware.

And, for mercy sake, when this happens, get an experienced criminal defense attorney at your child’s side at the earliest possible moment to guide you all through the nightmare that is to come.

Many parents figure that they can handle it alone and simply be truthful with everyone and the entire problem will go away. In a very select few cases that might happen. For the greater majority?

Well, I don’t think you need me to answer that question.

For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/01/09/mashpee-high-school-student-charged-with-felony-after-allegedly-sending-threatening-tweet-rival/9iXnVPw8TAyj0GBwuP1EvK/story.html

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