On March 6, 2012, an unnamed teenager allegedly assaulted a 15-year old Morristown High School freshman, Lennon Baldwin, at Morristown High School.
On March 9, 2012, it is alleged that the same unnamed teenager, and another unnamed teenager, again assaulted Baldwin. This time they allegedly took his money from his wallet as well.
On March 28, 2012, Lennon Baldwin was found dead in his house. No further details were disclosed, however; this appears to be another sad, unfortunate case of bullying in high school.
The exact charges against the youths are unknown. Since there are no specific "bullying" laws right now in New Jersey, potential charges could have included Larceny, Harassment, Assault and/or Robbery. In order to be found guilty, the State has to prove all elements of the following Statutes:
Regarding Larceny/Theft, pertinently, Section 2C:20-2. b states:
(2) Theft constitutes a crime of the third degree if:
(a) The amount involved exceeds $500.00 but is less than $75,000.00 or (d) It is from the person of the victim.
A person is guilty of Simple Assault if he:
(1) Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
(2) negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
(3) Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
The juveniles could be charged with aggravated assault if there was serious bodily injury or a weapon involved.
Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense, with potentially up to 6 months in jail and/or a one thousand dollar fine.
Aggravated assault is a 2nd degree crime with a potentially up to 10 years in prison.
Next, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4 provides that a person is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense of harassment if he:
a. Makes, or causes to be made, a communication or communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;
b. Subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so; or
c. Engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.
Lastly, Section 2C:15-1, Robbery, is defined as a person is guilty of robbery if, in the course of committing a theft, he:
(1) Inflicts bodily injury or uses force upon another; or
(2) Threatens another with or purposely puts him in fear of immediate bodily injury; or
(3) Commits or threatens immediately to commit any crime of the first or second degree.
An act shall be deemed to be included in the phrase "in the course of committing a theft" if it occurs in an attempt to commit theft or in immediate flight after the attempt or commission.
Generally, Robbery is a crime of the 2nd degree. It could be considered 1st degree if in the course of committing the theft, the actor attempts to kill, purposely inflicts [or attempts to inflict] serious bodily injury, or is armed with [or uses/threatens the immediate use of] a deadly weapon.
The 2 unnamed teenagers made a plea deal with the State in Juvenile Court in which they received 20 days of community service.
If you would like to discuss this blog further with me, contact Matthew C. Simon, Esq. at Matthew@jtlaw.org