Social media started as a way to connect with friends over the internet, but it has grown to encompass a multitude of uses. These days, suspected criminal activity is often spread by social media before an accused individual has even stepped inside a court room. This can wreak havoc on the constitutional guarantee that every person accused of a crime is presumed innocent unless and until proved otherwise in court. Recently, the alleged assault of a mentally challenged man by four young boys in Pennsylvania was seen by millions on Facebook before the boys were charged with any crime.
An unknown person posted a 30 second video of the apparent assault on Facebook that quickly went viral. The slow-motion video included four young boys, ranging in age from12 to15, allegedly beating a 38-year-old man who is a valued employee at a grocery store. Reportedly, two of the boys blindsided the older man with punches and continued to beat him as the other two boys watched nearby. The injuries that the older man suffered as a result of the beating were not reported.
Apparently, police were not aware of the alleged attack until the video became viral. Authorities have since identified the young men, but have not publicly named them due to their ages. The police suspect that two of the four boys were also involved in another recent attack. They are accused of throwing a brick at a school principal.
Although the boys may have been "charged and convicted" on social media for their actions, they have not been criminally charged and have every right to the assistance of an attorney. They could potentially be charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment. Charges and a conviction for any person at such a young age could have a long-term impact on one's future. Experienced criminal defense attorneys in Pennsylvania can aide any person accused of similar crimes in protecting their legal rights and preparing a defense geared toward achieving the best possible result.
Source: philly.com, "Cops: Some teens who attacked mentally challenged man also assaulted school principal", Stephanie Farr and Chris Palmer, June 6, 2017