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The Battle of Buckland Hills

The Christmas spirit is gone; long gone indeed. Especially from the modern day temples of the golden calf: shopping centers. My friends over at the Crime and Consequences Blog shared an ABC News story that fights broke out in at least nine states on Monday, including in Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, Texas, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and the Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester, Connecticut.

The melee at the Buckland Hills Mall, which was caught on cell phone camera also prompted an early shutdown of the mall and required the assistance of law enforcement from Manchester, Glastonbury, South Windsor and Vernon departments. A number of juveniles were arrested along with at least two "adults" (if not grown ups).

The charges against these brawlers include Breach of Peace in the Second Degree, Criminal Trespass in the First Degree and, for at least one individual, Interfering with an Officer. Considering that this fight broke out around 5:30 p.m., during normal business hours and operations for the busy Shoppes at Buckland Hills, you may wonder how someone could be charged as having "trespassed."

Under Connecticut General Statutes Section 53a-107(a)(1), in relevant part, a person commits a criminal trespass in the first degree when that person knowingly enters or remains in a building after an order to leave has been personally communicated to that person by the order or other authorized person. Therefore, once these individuals had been told to leave by someone with authority to make such a request, they were trespassing and could be charged with the same. Of course, whether the Assistant State's Attorney in Manchester, who will be prosecuting the adult individuals, can prove the elements of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt against these defendants, who knows.

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