July 21, 2014
A recent study by the Pew Research Internet Project found that 94% of US teens use some form of social media site. It’s no surprise that the Internet plays a large role in many of our lives, and while the Internet can be beneficial, it can also be detrimental. With the use of social media on the rise, cases involving Internet use are prevalent in courtrooms now more than ever. Teenagers are especially susceptible to risky online behavior, which could come with serious consequences.
In March 2008, a central Florida case made national headlines. Six Lakeland teens were accused of attacking 16-year-old Victoria Lindsay and videotaping it after she provoked the teen girls on the social media site, MySpace. Brittini Hardcastle attacked Lindsay as Mercades Nichols, April Cooper, Kayla Hassall, Brittany Mayes, and Cara Murphy watched and filmed the incident. Although it was never confirmed as a motive, Lindsay’s parents claimed the accused teens wanted to make a shocking video that would go viral on the web.
The six girls, including two other male accomplices who kept watch outside were arrested on felony charges of false imprisonment and battery and held on $30,000 bond each. Rohom Khonsari represented Cooper in this national media case, who prosecutors argued was the second most culpable behind Hardcastle.
Mr. Khonsari, who took the lead in the deposition of the alleged victim in the case, exposed that Ms. Lindsay was not the person prosecutors thought she was. By placing doubt on her credibility, Mr. Khonsari opened the door for a good outcome for Ms. Cooper’s case, even with the great deal of media involvement.
As the clip of the attack made its way to the public, it quickly became a top-viewed video on YouTube, attracting more than 700,000 views and thousands of comments. Not surprisingly, the case became a media juggernaut.
With the case gathering national attention, appropriate and skilled representation was needed immediately for Cooper and the other accused teens.
Each of the accused teens asked for forgiveness and apologized to Lindsay in court. Hardcastle, who was the main teen involved in the physical attack, was sentenced to 15 days in jail and 3 years probation. Cooper, Hassall, and Mayes were all given probation for their involvement while Murphy’s charges were dropped. Nichols also received three years’ probation.
Although this case occurred in 2008, it is still a prevalent issue today. Bullying and social media are increasingly connected, especially among teens. The case of the Lakeland teens assaulting Victoria Lindsay is a sensitive scenario involving influential youth and the uncertainty of their futures. Mr. Khonsari was not only able to achieve a great outcome under the circumstances for Ms. Cooper, but she has turned her life around and put this case behind her with no charges since the incident. As with any case, appropriate legal representation and guidance such as this is crucial in defending you or a loved one, especially in a media case with national attention. If you find yourself in a similar situation, contact Khonsari Law Group. Our experienced attorneys have the skills to navigate you through this sensitive time.