Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Hello, folks! You may remember be. This is Sam Goldberg (AKA “Attorney Sam”). I used to be your friendly blogger on this site on a daily basis. When last we spoke, I told you that I would be back and also doing more regular blogs elsewhere. While I have not begun the latter, I thought I would revisit the Bostoncriminallawyerblog.com to make a few postings.

If nothing else, to remind you that I am still here.

The first thing I thought I would discuss is the recent verdict of “Guilty” in the Michelle Carter matter.

As you probably know, the case involved a suicidal young man, Conrad Roy III (hereinafter, the “Deceased”) who was a friend of Michelle Carter(hereinafter, the “Defendant”). Summed up, the Deceased was communicating with the Defendant via text while he as filling his truck full of lethal fumes in a suicide attempt.  Through it, the Defendant was encouraging him to follow through with the suicide. Even to the point of ordering that he get back into the truck at a moment when he was having second thoughts.

He obeyed…and died.

The Defendant was charged with of involuntary manslaughter. In a surprise move, the Defendant’s lawyer waived a jury trial and opted for a bench trial. In other words, a judge would decide the verdict, not a jury.

The gamble did not pay off.

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During a criminal investigation, police may ask you questions whether you’re under arrest or not. But you don’t have to answer. Well, at least not most questions, and not initially. You must provide basic identifying information, such as your name and date of birth. If law enforcement asks you additional questions, you have the right to simply say “no” or remain silent, but the questions will likely continue until you specifically request to speak with a lawyer. This is true at any stage of the process.

The Fifth Amendment

The fifth amendment to the United States Constitution upholds a person’s right to remain silent. As such, invoking this right is often referred to as “pleading the fifth.” This amendment, which was proposed to congress in 1789, holds that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

But the fifth amendment is not without limits. For starters, commands and orders are not questions and should not be treated as such. For example, if an officer asks where you were the night a crime was committed, you have a right to plead the fifth. You do not, however, have the right to remain in your vehicle if an officer is ordering you to get out.

Can I Refuse a Request to Go to the Station for Questioning?

In short, yes. If you are a suspect, however, investigators will likely come to your work or home, and you may be arrested on the spot. A better idea is to schedule an appointment for later in the day or the next day, after you’ve had a chance to consult with a skilled Boston criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can even accompany you to the station, and can provide you with additional details about what to expect. Attempting to “go it alone” can be a big mistake when it comes to criminal investigations.

Should I Ask Police if I’m a Suspect?

Coming right out and asking police if you’re a suspect can be a very bad idea. For starters, they have absolutely no obligation to be completely honest during an interrogation. They might even lie to trick you. Further, the question itself can be incriminating. Avoid asking this question; ask for an attorney instead. Remember, anything that you say can be used against you.

Talking to police can be scary. They can be intimidating enough on their own, but you might also fear retaliation from those involved in the crime for “ratting them out,” talking too much, or even just providing a witness statement. Having an experienced MH defense attorney by your side can provide you with legal protection and the peace of mind to move forward. Continue reading

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) protects children and helps troubled families. To do this, the agency investigates reports of child abuse or neglect, and provides services to help families in need. These services can include daycare and counseling, but DCF may also remove children from the home if they think they are in danger. This is a good thing. Unfortunately, however, DCF is comprised of humans, and humans make mistakes. It is not uncommon for kids to be removed from the home due to false accusations or misunderstandings. That being said, it’s important to know – If DCF is investigating your family, what are your rights?

In addition to investigating reports of abuse and neglect, DCF is a licensed child placement agency. As such, the agency can place kids in foster care or arrange for their adoption. If DCF investigates your family, you may be asked to accept services as a condition of your children remaining in the home. If your children are removed from the home, the agency may require you to accept services before getting them back. In addition to daycare and counseling, DCF may also provide (or require) homemaker and parenting skills education services. If the court orders you to complete certain programs or partake of certain services, they will be presented to you in the form of a service plan. It is a good idea to contact a Boston defense attorney before you sign your service plan.

Why Am I Being Investigated?

In MA, any report of abuse or neglect (known as a 51A report) must be investigated. There doesn’t have to be probable cause, beyond the report itself. For this reason, anyone from a jealous ex-spouse to an angry neighbor can make false or exaggerated accusations. And to make things even more frustrating, these reports can be made anonymously. In most cases, emergency reports are investigated within 24 hours and non-emergency reports within 10 days.

Can DCF Take My Kids if I Don’t Know the 51A Has Been Filed?

Depending on the circumstances of your case, DCF can take your children before notifying you.  This is almost exclusively in the event of an emergency situation. In these cases, police may appear at your home with a social worker and an order obtained from the judge to remove your children immediately. If this happens, contact a MA defense attorney right away. You will need to go to court, which sometimes happens immediately after the children have been removed from the home. It is your right to be granted a hearing within 72 hours, at which point the judge will decide if your child will be in danger if he or she remains in the home pending the full hearing. Having a lawyer by your side throughout this process is essential.

What Are My Rights?

Although there’s not much you can do, in the moment, to stop an emergency order to remove children from your home, you do have rights. And any violation of these rights can be used in your favor. When the social worker tells you the details of the allegations against you, he or she must be as specific as possible. If you believe that the accusations were made out of spite, you may wish to tell the social worker. But be careful. As in any interaction with law enforcement and social workers, anything you say can be used against you.

 

  • You have the right to request a copy of the report, as well as the investigative summary.
  • If a social worker notifies you of an investigation, you have the right to have an attorney present during the investigation.
  • You have the right to refuse to speak with the social worker, and you can refuse to let the social worker into your home. However, DCF will likely obtain a court order to enter.
  • It is also your right to have an attorney view any documents before you sign them.

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Although the reason has yet to be determined, motorcycle thefts rose two percent in 2016. Maybe it’s because they look cool, or maybe they’re just easier to steal than other motor vehicles. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has released statistics that provide more information about where these thefts are most prevalent, and what may be behind the increase. A MA defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with motorcycle theft.

Top 10 Cities for Motorcycle Theft

Of the top 10 cities mentioned in the NICB report, nine are located in warm climates. This isn’t a big surprise, given that more bikes are purchased in warmer-climate areas, and they are generally on the road for more months each year in these places. However, the only city on the list with a cold climate in winter months also happens to be the city with the highest number of motorcycle thefts – New York City. The top 10 cities were:

  • New York City (1,209)
  • San Diego (849)
  • Las Vegas (818)
  • Los Angeles (760)
  • San Francisco (616)
  • Miami (610)
  • Houston (607)
  • San Antonio (411)
  • Phoenix (347)
  • Austin (343)

Not surprisingly, motorcycle thefts in NYC were highest in August and lowest in February, further proof that Mother Nature plays a significant role in motorcycle thefts.

When the NICB looked at motorcycle theft by state, the leaders were California, Florida and Texas. Looking at the city stats above, this doesn’t come as a surprise. However, numbers four and five on that list were South Carolina and North Carolina, respectively. Considering that population isn’t as robust in these states, some researchers are left scratching their heads. Yes, both North and South Carolina have warmer climates, but so do many other states with worse records of overall crime.

When Temperatures Drop, So Does Crime

Maybe New England’s brutal winters do have some very real benefits. But motorcycle thefts do still occur here; in 2015, 34 bikes were stolen in MA. A Boston defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with any type of theft.

What’s Behind the Increase?

Theft of motorcycles had been declining for nine years when it increased in 2015, and then again in 2016. According to the NICB’s Frank Scafidi, it is easier to steal a motorcycle. “Stealing a bike is much easier than stealing a car simply because of its size,” said Scafidi. “If you have your bike all chained up and covered with all kinds of immobilizing technology, it can still be picked up with a fork lift, loaded into a pickup truck and taken away.” And with car anti-theft systems becoming more sophisticated every day, motorcycles are increasingly an easier option.

Unfortunately for bike owners, the recovery rate tends to be lower than the recovery rate for cars. This is largely due to the fact that bikes are frequently “chopped” for individual parts. Of the 46,467 motorcycles stolen in 2016, only about 18,000 were recovered.

Penalties for Motorcycle Theft in MA

Considering that most motorcycles are valued at more than $250, motorcycle theft is classified as grand larceny in MA. A felony charge, grand larceny carries a penalty of up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Continue reading

Writing in a journal can be extremely therapeutic; jotting down thoughts, hopes and fears can help you solve problems, stick to a plan, and reach goals. Although journals have long been hailed as a private space in which you can divulge your deepest, darkest secrets, you may want to think about withholding criminal confessions from its pages.

If your journal is found during a legal search, it will likely be admissible as evidence in court. The search doesn’t even have to be conducted by law enforcement; if one of your family members or roommates finds something incriminating in your journal and reports it to law enforcement, your Fourth Amendment protections may fly out the window.

Invasion of privacy is a no-no, but legally obtaining a journal or diary during a search does not constitute invasion of privacy. If the contents of the journal are deemed relevant to the charges you are facing, the prosecution will likely use it against you. A MA criminal defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with a crime.

The Search Has to Fit the Crime

Keep in mind, however, that simply being arrested doesn’t give law enforcement a green light to read your journal. If you get arrested for shoplifting, for example, it doesn’t give police the right to demand your private journal. If, however, you are arrested for a more serious crime such as arson, police will likely search your home. If that search turns up a journal, investigators are almost certain to use it against you. A Boston defense attorney can help you protect your rights if evidence was obtained during an unlawful search.

In some situations, a journal might actually help your case. If journal entries corroborate your defense that you were in New York the night of a murder, for example, it may be used as proof that you were out of state when the crime was committed. And memories fade; you may have trouble proving your innocence when relying solely on memory, but a journal can help you remember where you were, what you were doing, and when you were doing it.

Were Your Rights Violated?

If you’re facing criminal charges, it’s important to know your constitutional rights. In today’s world, it’s not just journal entries that can come back to haunt us. Blogs, emails, message boards, chat rooms, texts, Snap chats, and a whole slew of other electronic communications can be used against you in certain circumstances. If you believe that evidence against you was obtained in an unlawful manner, or that lawfully-obtained evidence is being used in an unlawful manner, it’s essential to know how to ask for that evidence to be removed. This is where the help of a skilled defense lawyer can make all the difference in the world. A criminal conviction can be devastating to your financial and emotional well-being for years into the future. Don’t make the mistake of hiring an inexperienced attorney. Continue reading

In 2014, then-17-year-old Michelle Carter allegedly encouraged her 18-year-old boyfriend Conrad Roy IIII to commit suicide. She did it through text. Earlier this week, Carter’s manslaughter trial commenced, with prosecutors arguing that the now-20-year-old Plainville woman’s texts urged Roy to take his own life.

Both Carter and Roy had a history of mental illness. In fact, Roy had attempted suicide in 2012. But what could have possibly motivated Carter to send such damning texts to her boyfriend? Prosecutors claim that she was lonely and did it to improve her social life. According to testimony at the trial on Tuesday, Carter sent the following text to a friend, Samantha Boardman:

“Yeah I have school friends that all say they love me . . . [but] no one ever asks to hang out with me. No one ever calls me or texts me. It’s always me who has to do it.’’

To another friend, Carter texted: “Stop telling me how wonderful and beautiful I am. Beautiful girls get invited to parties and their friends call and wanna hang out . . . I have like no friends. I am alone all the time.”

Is it possible that Carter believed she’d finally get the attention she craved in the wake of her boyfriend’s tragic suicide? In yet another text to an acquaintance who claims not to know the defendant well, Carter wrote, “I was on the phone talking to him when he killed himself.” A MA defense lawyer can help you protect your rights if you have been charged with manslaughter or any other crime.

What is Carter’s Defense for Her Actions?

Carter has been struggling with mental health issues for years. As such, she was taking the prescription drug Celexa for depression when she encouraged Roy to commit suicide via text. Studies have shown that Celexa, the brand name for citalopram, is known to cause “impulse control issues,” which may have contributed to Carter’s “lashing out,” and other abnormal behaviors. If this is true, the young woman’s actions may have been out of her control. Carter and Roy had actually bonded over mental health struggles. In fact, according to Carter’s defense attorney, she had previously attempted to convince Roy to seek psychiatric treatment.

Although the Celexa may have contributed to Carter’s behavior that day, her behaviors following Roy’s suicide have not helped her case at all. According to text records, she texted Lynn Roy, her deceased boyfriend’s mother, multiple times in the days following his death. In these texts, she expressed sympathy and a desire to help, but she conveniently left out any knowledge of Roy’s plans or information about their conversations leading up to his death. Despite several text messages urging Roy to kill himself, Carter texted the following message to Roy’s mother after his death:

“You tried your hardest, I tried my hardest, everyone tried their hardest to save him. But he had his mind set on taking his life.” A Boston defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you are facing criminal charges. Continue reading

In 2014, then-17-year-old Michelle Carter allegedly encouraged her 18-year-old boyfriend Conrad Roy IIII to commit suicide. She did it through text. Earlier this week, Carter’s manslaughter trial commenced, with prosecutors arguing that the now-20-year-old Plainville woman’s texts urged Roy to take his own life.

Both Carter and Roy had a history of mental illness. In fact, Roy had attempted suicide in 2012. But what could have possibly motivated Carter to send such damning texts to her boyfriend? Prosecutors claim that she was lonely and did it to improve her social life. According to testimony at the trial on Tuesday, Carter sent the following text to a friend, Samantha Boardman:

“Yeah I have school friends that all say they love me . . . [but] no one ever asks to hang out with me. No one ever calls me or texts me. It’s always me who has to do it.’’

To another friend, Carter texted: “Stop telling me how wonderful and beautiful I am. Beautiful girls get invited to parties and their friends call and wanna hang out . . . I have like no friends. I am alone all the time.”

Is it possible that Carter believed she’d finally get the attention she craved in the wake of her boyfriend’s tragic suicide? In yet another text to an acquaintance who claims not to know the defendant well, Carter wrote, “I was on the phone talking to him when he killed himself.” A MA defense lawyer can help you protect your rights if you have been charged with manslaughter or any other crime.

What is Carter’s Defense for Her Actions?

Carter has been struggling with mental health issues for years. As such, she was taking the prescription drug Celexa for depression when she encouraged Roy to commit suicide via text. Studies have shown that Celexa, the brand name for citalopram, is known to cause “impulse control issues,” which may have contributed to Carter’s “lashing out,” and other abnormal behaviors. If this is true, the young woman’s actions may have been out of her control. Carter and Roy had actually bonded over mental health struggles. In fact, according to Carter’s defense attorney, she had previously attempted to convince Roy to seek psychiatric treatment.

Although the Celexa may have contributed to Carter’s behavior that day, her behaviors following Roy’s suicide have not helped her case at all. According to text records, she texted Lynn Roy, her deceased boyfriend’s mother, multiple times in the days following his death. In these texts, she expressed sympathy and a desire to help, but she conveniently left out any knowledge of Roy’s plans or information about their conversations leading up to his death. Despite several text messages urging Roy to kill himself, Carter texted the following message to Roy’s mother after his death:

“You tried your hardest, I tried my hardest, everyone tried their hardest to save him. But he had his mind set on taking his life.” A Boston defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you are facing criminal charges. Continue reading

In most cases, if a landlord’s negligence leads to an unsafe condition on their property, the landlord generally won’t be held criminally liable for resulting injuries or death. However, an exception may occur if the landlord’s actions were especially egregious.

Last December, a fire killed 36 people at the Ghost Ship artist collective in Oakland, California. The space, which had been rented to artists as a living and working space, was also used for parties, similar to the dance party that was underway when the tragedy occurred.

The art collective’s manager, Derick Alamena and his assistant, Max Harris, were arrested earlier this week in connection with the deadly blaze. They are each being charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Although it is not believed that either Alamena or Harris had anything to do with starting the fire, their egregious disregard for the safety of tenants and party-goers has elevated their actions to criminal status. A MA criminal defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Many states, including Massachusetts, have specialized drug courts, which aim to provide addiction treatment rather than criminal penalties for drug offenders. However, last month, New York took its drug court system one step further by instituting a highly-specialized opiate court to address the nation’s growing problem with opioid addiction.

Opioid addiction has reached epidemic proportions, nationwide. As such, law makers have come to the realization that the problem must be dealt with differently from other crimes, even from other drug crimes. In most cases, opioid addicts need treatment and rehabilitation, not hefty fines and prison time.

On May 1, New York’s Buffalo City Court initiated the opiate intervention program, which will screen anyone arrested in Buffalo for opiate use and put their criminal cases on hold while they are enrolled in an addiction treatment program. In a recent interview, District Attorney John J. Flynn told the Buffalo News, “Jail is not the answer. Will people be held accountable for their crimes? Yes. But they also deserve to be cared for and loved.” A MA defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with a drug crime.

Delays Can be Deadly

New York’s new opiate court is different from traditional drug courts in multiple ways. In its standard program, drug users typically don’t begin treatment for 30, 60 or 90 days. In opiate court, treatment begins immediately. When it comes to opiate addicts, a three-month delay can be deadly. So far, the program seems to be a success; 40 of the first 43 people admitted are currently undergoing addiction treatment. New York’s bold move may create sweeping changes in how drug offenses are treated across the country.

The Massachusetts Probation Service, which administers MA’s drug courts, estimates that over 80 percent of the probation population is battling some type of addiction. According to Specialty Courts Administrator Sheila Casey, MA drug court programs generally last between 16 and 24 months. “Drug courts provide highly intensive probation supervision and access to appropriate treatment for substance use disorders to participants who are ’high risk/high need,’” said Casey. “Probationers report on a weekly basis at first with court appearances becoming less frequent as the person progresses through the drug court.“ A Boston defense attorney can help you determine if drug court is an option for you.

Drug Courts Work

Across the country, about 75 percent of individuals who successfully complete drug court remain arrest-free for at least two years following the program.

  • Studies of drug courts reveal that, on average, crime reduction lasts at least three years and can endure for more than 14 years.
  • Reports show that drug courts reduce crime by up to 45 percent more than criminal prosecution.
  • Across the country, taxpayers save up to $3.36 for every $1.00 invested in the drug court system.
  • When other cost offsets such as healthcare are considered, that savings increases to up to $27 per every $1 invested.
  • Per client, drug courts save up to $13,000 in reduced arrest and trial costs, reduced prison costs, and reduced costs related to victimization.

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Tiger Woods was recently arrested on drugged driving charges after police found him asleep behind the wheel of his Mercedes. When police woke him up, the golf superstar was stopped in the right lane with his car running. Woods failed several field sobriety tests, but a breath test registered no alcohol in his system. Although this story is unfortunate, it does provide some valuable lessons about drunk, and drugged, driving.

  • You Don’t Have to Drink Alcohol to Get an OUI: In every state, including Massachusetts, drugged driving is included in OUI laws, and there are specific charges depending on whether the drugs were legal, illicit, or prescription. OUI stands for operating under the influence, and it doesn’t only apply to alcohol. Even if you are impaired by a legal, valid prescription medication you can be charged with, and convicted of, OUI. However, with the help of a skilled Boston OUI defense lawyer, you may be able to convince a prosecutor that the incident was an honest mistake. If no injuries or damages occurred as a result, you’ll have a much better chance of a favorable outcome.
  • You Can Get Charged with OUI Even if You Weren’t Driving: If you are in or around the car, you can still get charged with OUI. The case above is a perfect example; although Tiger wasn’t actively driving at the time of the arrest it was apparent that he had been driving. Even if he had pulled off the road, onto a shoulder or into a parking area, he would likely have been arrested. If Tiger had gotten out of the car and fallen asleep leaning up against it, the outcome would have almost certainly been the same. If police believe you were driving, or intended to drive, you can be charged with OUI. The moral to this story – if you are drunk or drugged, stay far away from your car, unless a perfectly-sober driver is driving. A MA OUI defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with drunk or drugged driving.
  • Field Sobriety Tests are “Optional”: This is true; you can refuse both field sobriety tests and breath and blood tests. However, you may face harsh consequences for doing so. In most cases, field sobriety tests, such as saying your ABCs backwards and touching your nose with alternating fingertips, can be refused without consequences. But refusing a breath test comes with mandatory consequences. In MA, refusing a breath test will give you a mandatory 180-day license suspension. Despite this mandatory suspension, it is sometimes in an individual’s best interest to refuse the breath test. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question; the decision to refuse or not to refuse must be based on multiple factors, including the severity of your offense, prior OUI convictions, prior criminal history, and personal-family-work-life situation.

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