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Massachusetts teen's journal leads to multiple criminal charges

An 18-year-old, who is a student at Stoughton High School, was arraigned on April 20 on multiple criminal charges that include causing a school disturbance, four counts of threatening to commit a crime and a felony charge of making a terroristic threat.

These Massachusetts criminal charges came to light after a school administrator purportedly found a journal, said to be written by the young man, which outlined a "Columbine-style" attack. According to authorities and reports, the teenager had zero access to guns, but his journal allegedly described using a point system for killing students, teachers and cops.

Authorities claim the journal was created when the teenager was 17. It supposedly included drawings of one school building with the text "enter B-building at 11:09 and shoot the teacher at the desk." He appeared April 24 at a hearing to determine his danger to the public. He is currently being held without bail regarding these criminal charges and is due back in court May 8.

This Massachusetts teenager clearly has a tough road in front of him in facing the criminal charges. Nevertheless, the fact the statements attributable to him were written a year ago may play an important role in his defense.

The focus of any criminal trial may be on criminal intent and a perceived right to exercise free speech, and the young man will have the right to challenge the testimony of his accusers while challenging the admissibility of any evidence offered against him. While it remains to be seen how this case will be determined, the potentially serious consequences for a conviction mandate that a vigorous defense be presented that seeks to preserve the boy's legal rights while fighting for a just conclusion.

Source: Fox News, "Massachusetts high school student arrested for allegedly plotting 'Columbine-style' attack," April 25, 2012

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