A display of talent erupted in a display of violence at Mount Ida College recently, as more than 100 people were involved in a brawl following a talent show being held in Carlson Hall.
Our Massachusetts criminal defense lawyers understand one man was arrested for assault on a police officer, while several others were issued citations for disorderly conduct.
We don’t know what sparked the disturbance, but we do know that police officers from five agencies were called to respond, due to the large number of people involved. At least one K-9 unit was called to help break up the crowd, following the event held by the school’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Police reported pepper spray was used on at least one person.
In cases like these, it can be difficult for prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person arrested is the person who actually committed the crime.
Barring video surveillance evidence, what you have is a scene of mass chaos. You have a situation where officers are focused on calming an unruly crowd. In the midst of that, it can be tough for any person to definitively say one person committed the crime over the 99 others present.
This is something defense attorneys could use to a client’s benefit, particularly if the individual facing charges has never been in any trouble before. Officers frequently make arrests to bring an end to the disturbance — with little regard for the challenges of proving the case in court.
According to school officials, it’s not clear whether those who were cited or arrested were students. A separate investigation has been launched by the school to make that determination and determine whether suspension or further disciplinary action is warranted.
Assault charges can result in serious consequences even when they don’t involve a police officer. However, the punishment is amplified, according to Massachusetts General Law Part IV, Title I, Chapter 265, Section 13D, if the alleged crime involves “a public employee when such person is engaged in the performance of his or her duties.” While the crime carries a maximum of 2.5 years in prison regardless, an assault or battery against a public employee is supposed to garner a minimum of 90 days (or three months) behind bars.
This is not only a major disruption to your life, it’s a permanent scar on your criminal record.
That’s why it’s so critical to not automatically just plead guilty. A good attorney can often work to have such charges dismissed before the case gets anywhere near the trial stage.
With a disorderly conduct citation, the defendant is not actually “arrested,” but it is given a notice to appear in court. People think that because these are misdemeanor charges that it isn’t necessary to hire a lawyer, and they simply pay the fine. Prosecutors count on this, because otherwise, he or she has to prove that you:
- Recklessly or purposely created a risk of public harm or annoyance, AND
- You engaged in fighting or threatening, violent behavior or created a hazard or physically offensive condition with no legitimate purpose.
Particularly in cases like this, where you have literally dozens of people involved in a chaotic disturbance, it will be tough for prosecutors to prove that one person caused more of a problem than the next.
At the very least, these individuals – and anyone facing similar allegations – should consult with an attorney to review their options.