A distressing video of a double homicide-suicide in Plains Township, Pennsylvania, made national and global news in early February. The footage shows three neighbors arguing over a snow shoveling incident, but the argument quickly turns violent. In a matter of minutes, all three involved are dead.
In the video, Jeffrey Spaide, 47, retreats to his home after a verbal altercation with a married couple and emerges seconds later with a firearm. He shoots James Goy, 50, and Lisa Goy, 48, repeatedly and goes back inside. Spaide then brings out a rifle, reshoots the couple, goes back into his home, and shoots himself. The Goys leave behind a special needs child, who is now in the care of his grandparents.
Cases that make national headlines can have a detrimental impact on court proceedings. While some publicity helps victims receive justice, the caveat is that public opinion influences the court's process. The additional scrutiny and involvement of thousands of people in viral criminal cases create a “trial by media” effect, affecting its transparency.
Advantages of Publicity
The advantage of a case making national headlines is that it gets people's attention. There is less room for error because of public scrutiny, and multiple people can weigh in if an unfair trial takes place.
Victims or defendants who may not receive justice otherwise now have multiple people monitoring the case outcome.
More accountability and publicity don't guarantee that a case goes smoothly, however. In many cases, public scrutiny does more harm than good.
How it Can Go Wrong
When a criminal case makes national headlines, it comes with a burden – satisfying the public. If the outcome doesn't happen the way the public desires, it generates a fresh negative publicity wave. Some of the ways that a viral criminal case can go wrong include:
- Influencing juror decisions: Jurors must be impartial in a criminal case. It's not easy to stay neutral, especially when the media sensationalizes the issue and publishes multiple articles about the story.
- Exposing witnesses: Although respectable media outlets protect witnesses and do not give details about them, a viral case puts witnesses in danger. From people lurking outside of the court to paparazzi shots and even individual efforts, leaked information quickly gets into the wrong hands, and places witness lives at risk.
- Reputation damage: Cases that make national headlines generate strong opinions by people who are not impartial to the case details. This publicity causes reputation damage, even if a person is innocent.
Call the Lento Law Firm
If you are part of a viral criminal case, you may not receive the fair trial you deserve. Public opinion and pressure can harm your future and cause permanent reputation damage. Without an aggressive defense attorney, your freedom and future are at risk.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento helps you avoid an unfair court process due to external influence, ensuring that the process is fair and impartial.
Without the facts, most people form harsh and vocal opinions that can influence the jury. Call the Lento Law Firm today to avoid the harmful impacts of a case making national headlines at 888-535-3686.