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Horror movie provides inspiration but no justification for theft

Movies can have powerful impacts on their audiences. Some movies make people laugh, some movies entertain people, and some movies frighten people. Two teenagers in Scranton recently confused the fictional world in the movie "The Purge" with real life and are now facing several criminal charges.

The movie depicts a world where crime is legal for 12 hours on a given day. Apparently believing they were living in the world, the two teenagers allegedly donned masks similar to the masks worn by characters in the movie and began following two women as they walked along Mulberry Street after leaving Granteed's Pizza. The two women noticed that that they were being followed, but because the bars were closing and patrons were filling the sidewalks, the women felt safe. In the 200 block of Adams Street, the two men ran at the women and snatched their purses. The men allegedly cursed the women and told them that they were in "the purge." The two men then fled.

The women called police to report the incident. Police were able to use surveillance cameras in downtown Scranton to spot the pair and follow them as they continued their escape. Investigators found the clothing that the men allegedly used as their disguises. The men were arrested near a dormitory on the Lackawanna College campus, where they claim to be students. The two men were arrested and arraigned. One man was charged with robbery, theft, receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence and conspiracy to commit robbery; the other was charged with conspiracy, tampering with evidence and receiving stolen property.

The two teenagers may have viewed their actions as a prank, but they nevertheless have been accused with serious crimes. Anyone who has been accused of criminal conduct in connection with a prank gone bad may wish to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice on the seriousness of the charges, likely penalties, potential defense strategies and the likelihood of negotiating a favorable plea agreement.

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