Philadelphia police are looking for a group of teenagers who allegedly assaulted a man in Old City. The situation illustrates an important lesson about the criminal law in Pennsylvania: you can face a charge for conspiracy even if you did not do anything illegal.
Group of Teens Allegedly Assault Man in Old City
Police recently announced that they were looking for a group of eight teenagers, boys and girls and seemingly aged between 15 and 18, in connection with an assault that happened in Old City, Philadelphia, during the overnight hours of June 10, 2019.
According to the police, the group assaulted a 32-year-old man and tried to take his backpack. When they failed to get the backpack, they fled the scene.
The alleged victim suffered a fractured jaw and other minor injuries, which the police mischaracterized as “serious.” He was treated at a local hospital.
If the police are correct, it seems unlikely that all eight of the suspects actively participated in the assault. However, that does not mean that all eight will not get charged with a crime.
How Conspiracy Charges Work
Under Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2701, assault involves causing a bodily injury to someone else.
Assuming, for the sake of the argument, that the police are correct, any of the teens that did not land a punch or try to take the man's backpack would not be guilty of either assault or attempted robbery.
They could, however, be tried for conspiracy to commit the assault and conspiracy to commit the robbery.
Conspiracy involves an agreement – spoken or unspoken – between multiple people to commit a crime, and then an overt act to commit that crime. It doesn't take much for there to be an implicit agreement to do something: so long as conduct manifests an intent to commit a crime, it can create a conspiracy.
In this case, prosecutors could argue that the mere presence of the other teens during the offense could amount to a conspiracy to commit the assault or the robbery. If the alleged conspirators did not take affirmative action to stop the offense, or if they didn't break off from the group as it happened, prosecutors would likely stress those facts as indicative of an intent sufficient to make a conspiracy.
Criminal Defense in Philadelphia With Joseph D. Lento
Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer who serves the accused in Philadelphia. Conspiracy charges are some of the trickiest allegations to defend against because of how little one has to do to become a conspirator. However, conspiracy charges are frequently filed against collateral suspects in an attempt to get them to flip on a defendant that the prosecutor really wants to convict.
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer can be the best way to protect your future in these situations. Call Joseph D. Lento at (215) 535-5353 or contact him online.