Social media has a rather unpredictable somewhat double-edged effect on the behavior of individuals and society at-large. On one hand, the promise of “internet celebrity” can encourage teens and adult to take foolish risks and act in ways that seem outrageous or outlandish to stand out among the multitude of posters. Post and videos that truly resonate or shock the public have a tendency to go viral. Unfortunately it seems that posts are just as likely to go viral for positive reasons as they are likely to achieve notoriety for disreputable and anti-social behavior.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime due to video postings to YouTube, Facebook, or other social media, an Atlantic City criminal defense lawyer of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can fight for you. More than ever police and prosecutors are using social media posts as a basis for criminal charges despite the fact that these are often brief, lacking context, and subject to confusion and misidentification. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call (609) 616-4956 or contact us online.

What is the Knockout Game?

The knockout game is the name of an unfortunate practice that has become popular among high schoolers, teens, and college students. The popularity of the game is likely driven by both a need to stand out from the crowd and a shocking lack of empathy for others. At its core, the game is exhibitionist in nature. The game involves two or more participants and an unsuspecting bystander. One of the participants is assigned the task of filming the events that are about to unfold. The other participant approaches the bystander and punches or otherwise attacks the bystander in an attempt to knock them out. The individual who recorded the event then posts the encounter to social media in an attempt to gain followers and likes.

video on social media charges

What Charges Can Arise from Playing the Knockout Game?

Many teens and young people have a tendency to down play the potential consequences of playing the knockout game. They may say it’s “only a prank” or that it’s just a punch. Unfortunately, serious injuries or even death can be sustained from even a single punch. Furthermore, New Jersey law and the law throughout the nation has always held that conduct of this type is criminal in nature. Criminal penalties for a youthful indiscretion can lead to narrowed opportunities and change the course of a young person’s life. They may face difficulty in getting accepted to college and difficulty finding a job due to their actions. Furthermore, they may even face time in state prison for their actions.

In a recent knockout game where the posting of the event led to widespread outrage in online communities, both the attacker and the individual filming face serious criminal charges. They each face one count of aggravated assault and one count of endangering an innocent victim.

How Many Years in Prison can I Face for Aggravated Assault or Endangering an Injured Victim?

The aggravate assault charge stems from the fact that the behavior by the teens inflicted serious bodily injury to another person “purposely or knowingly or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.” Aggravated assault can be charged as a second third or fourth degree indictable offense in New Jersey. An indictable offense is similar to a felony. A second degree charge can result in a prison term of five to ten years. Third degree aggravated assault is most commonly charged when a weapon is displayed or brandished and can result in a prison sentence of three to five years. A fourth-degree felony is appropriate when one causes injury recklessly with a weapon.

aggravated assault

The crime of endangering an injured victim is defined under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.2. The crime occurs when any person:

causes bodily injury to any person or solicits, aids, encourages, or attempts or agrees to aid another, who causes bodily injury to any person, and leaves the scene of the injury knowing or reasonably believing that the injured person is physically helpless…or unable to care for himself

This is a third-degree crime and individuals charged with the offense are subject to a three to five year prison sentence.

Charged with a Crime in New Jersey?

If you are facing criminal defense charges in New Jersey, penalties are severe. Furthermore, conviction can result in a stigma that prevents you from realizing your full potential and living the life you envisioned. If you’ve been charged with a crime like aggravated assault in Atlantic City, Atlantic County, or Cape May County contact the criminal defense attorneys of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today for a free and confidential consultation. Call (609) 616-4956 or contact us online today.