Today’s Lawrence Eagle Tribune report by Douglas Moser shows just how powerful a tool Social Media can be to law enforcement and to me as a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer. Moser wrote about a fight that broke out two nights ago at a basketball game between Methuen and Haverhill. Apparently the catalyst for the incident was texting and tagging following last Saturday’s Methuen, Haverhill hockey game. One Haverhill player took credit for hitting a Methuen player during the game. The incident may or may not have happened but nevertheless this person apparently followed up by “tagging” the Methuen student with threats. That same night a Haverhill girl claimed to have been struck by a Methuen girl at that game. Following the game tweets started to fly. Threats of retaliation targeting the Methuen, Haverhill basketball game were tweeted. Haverhill police got wind of the potential for problems and responded by beefing up their presence at the game. Sure enough, as the game progressed the tweeting exchanges intensified culminating in fights behind the school in a parking lot. In all, seven arrests were made. Six of the people arrested were charged with Disorderly Conduct. The seventh defendant was charged with Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon. The cases are pending in the Haverhill District Court.
Massachusetts Lawyer Who Defends Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon Cases, Disorderly Person
It seems like any time I open a newspaper I read about someone using the Social Media in a manner that lands that person in trouble. This article perfectly illustrates just how stupid aggressive texting can be. Take for instance the Haverhill hockey player who was tagging the Methuen student with threats. That action in and of itself is a crime in Massachusetts known as Threatening to Commit a Crime or Threats. The flurry of threats of retaliation are criminally actionable in Massachusetts as well. I am willing to bet that there are several people attending these schools who have tweeted material constituting an admission to involvement in the fights. That could land them in hot water. People, especially younger people just don’t get it. A screen shot of the inculpatory tweets can suffice to launch a criminal investigation. As I have said on numerous occasions, don’t put anything in writing. Nothing good comes from it and at times your own written words can spell doom for your criminal case.
So what’s going to happen to the defendants in this case? Probably not much if they are properly represented. A dismissal with courts costs, pretrial probation or diversion prior to arraignment are all possibilities. None of this however would have happened had it not been for the nonsense tweeting/texting that followed the hockey game.