March 31, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

It was recently reported that nine youths have been charged in relation to the suicide of a 15-year-old girl in Massachusetts. Phoebe Prince, who had recently moved to South Hadley, Massachusetts from Ireland, hung herself after being raped and bullied by classmates since the start of the school year in September 2009. Prince committed suicide on January 14th. Initially thought to be a case of cyber bullying, it is believed Prince was bullied on and off the campus of her high school in the presence of teachers and fellow students.

Six teenagers, four girls and two boys, face charges of statutory rape, assault, violation of civil rights resulting in injury, criminal harassment, disturbance of a school assembly, and stalking. Three younger girls are facing delinquency charges. Three of the nine teenagers, who are 17-years-old or older, will be tried as adults.

Complicating matters, the parents of two of the teenagers have spoken to the media, insisting on the innocence of their children, stating the school bullying was nothing more than the exchanging of “a couple words.” It is recommended that the accused retain an attorney immediately after charges are filed and have any statements made through the attorney.

All of the charges the teenagers are facing are very serious. Statutory rape, assault, harassment, creating a disturbance, and stalking carry serious consequences in California. Out of all the charges, California statutory rape is the most serious. California “statutory rape,” defined under Penal Code Section 261.5, takes place when any person engages in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18 (commonly referred to as unlawful sex with a minor). Statutory rape can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, statutory rape can result in up to a year in jail with fines and probation. As a felony, it can result in four years in state prison with fines and probation.

If you or a loved one is accused of bullying or related offenses, do not hesitate to call the law firm of Wallin & Klarich. For over 30 years, Wallin & Klarich has been successfully defending juveniles and adults charged with crimes such as statutory rape, assault, harassment, creating a disturbance, and stalking. Our Southern California juvenile criminal defense attorneys will work with you to provide you with the best possible defense for your case. Call us today at 888-280-6839 or visit us online at We will be there when you call.

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