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.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), more than 20,000 drug cases are on their way to dismissal following the criminal actions of Annie Dookhan, a former MA state chemist. In 2013, Dookhan pleaded guilty to 27 counts, including tampering with evidence, perjury, and obstruction of justice. The disgraced chemist was called Superwoman by her co-workers because she completed tasks so quickly, but there was a criminal element to her speed. Dookhan was found to have returned positive results for drugs she never even tested. She also forged signatures and mishandled samples.

Thousands of drug convictions have been tainted by Dookhan’s actions. In January, district attorneys were ordered to complete a monumental task; they needed to compile lists of individuals who – they believed – could be re-prosecuted, and another list of those whose cases should be dismissed. On Tuesday, lawyers counted 21,587 cases likely to be dismissed. Only a few hundred will be re-prosecuted.

“From numbers that we’re initially getting, about 95 percent of these tainted drug convictions will be dismissed,” said Carl Williams, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of Massachusetts. “And that is a victory for regular people, for people who’ve been tarnished by these drug convictions.”

More than 7,800 cases in Suffolk County, which encompasses Boston, are expected to be dismissed. For many of these people, the damage is irreversible; those locked up for months or years have lost jobs, housing, and relationships. Families have suffered. Some people have even been deported. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if your life was negatively impacted by Dookhan’s negligence and criminal behavior.

Wrongful Convictions

Compensating people for wrongful convictions is not only the right thing to do, it shows the public that the government is willing to make amends for its mistakes. The following statement is taken from the website of the Innocence Project, an organization that seeks to exonerate the wrongfully convicted: “Conceding that no system is perfect, the government’s public recognition of the harm inflicted upon a wrongfully convicted person helps to foster his healing process, while assuring the public that the government – regardless of fault – is willing to take ownership of its wrongs or errors.”

Most states, including Massachusetts, have a compensation statute, which compensates a wrongfully-convicted person for each year spent behind bars. When the compensation amounts were last updated under George W. Bush, the recommended amount was up to $50,000 per year. Based on inflation, that amount should now be approximately $63,000 per year. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to move forward if you’ve been wrongfully convicted of a crime.

As a result of her actions, Dookhan was sentenced to three to five years imprisonment, and she was granted parole in 2016. Was justice served? Thousands of people’s lives have changed, and will continue to change as a result of the former chemist’s actions. Continue reading

If you were falsely accused of domestic assault and battery, it’s important to seek the counsel of an experienced defense attorney, and fast. The charges – also known as domestic violence or domestic abuse – have serious implications in MA. In addition to a criminal record and fines, you may be required to complete anger management programs, or more expensive “batterer’s” programs. In some instances, you may have to avoid all contact with the person you are accused of harming.

Domestic violence is a serious crime, but an experienced MA defense lawyer understands how often these charges are exaggerated – or even completely fabricated – as a result of relationship problems. More than one jealous lover has falsely accused his or her mate of domestic violence. These false accusations are even worse because they undermine incidences of real domestic abuse.

What is Domestic Assault and Battery?

Domestic Assault and Battery is similar to regular assault and battery, but it involves a family member or someone who lives with you and with whom you have a close, personal relationship. Assault is a threat of violence, and battery involves unwanted physical contact with the intent to cause harm. Neither assault nor battery have to result in actual physical harm to be a crime. Even the intent to harm another can land you behind bars.

Penalties for Domestic Assault and Battery

If convicted of any type of domestic violence, you may face penalties including hefty fines and time behind bars. As with any crime, the penalties vary depending on the severity of the underlying offense and prior criminal history. Penalties may include:

  • First offense: Up to 30 months in prison and a $1,000 fine. You may also have to enroll in a Certified Batterer’s Program, which can cost more than $3,500.
  • If the victim is seriously injured, over the age of 65 or pregnant, the crime may be classified as “aggravated.” Aggravated domestic assault and battery is a felony offense and carries up to five years in prison.
  • When a dangerous weapon is involved, you may be charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. If convicted, the penalty is up to 15 years in prison.

False accusations are a serious problem; they are costly, time consuming, and can ruin a person’s reputation and life. An experienced Boston defense attorney will know how to find the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and use them to prove your innocence. Domestic violence is a serious crime in MA. Don’t let a bad break up give you a criminal record.

What if My Accuser Drops Charges?

In Massachusetts, even if the alleged victim recants his or her accusation, you will still be arrested. This may seem odd, and even unfair, but this policy is intended to protect victims of abuse. If your accuser decides they don’t wish to press charges, you are still not in the clear. The District Attorney’s office often ignores requests to drop charges in domestic violence cases. It is common for victims of domestic violence to feel pressured by their abuser to drop charges and “work things out,” and the courts want to avoid a revolving door of repeat cases. Continue reading

We know that it’s not uncommon for college students to experiment with drugs. It’s the types of drugs they are experimenting with that may come as a surprise. Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are commonly referred to as study drugs because they help users stay focused. These medications are usually prescribed for young people with disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but the rate of abuse is continuing to rise.

Due to the high rate of abuse, students who have legitimate prescriptions for these drugs are often asked to share or sell them. It may seem harmless to share a prescription medication with a friend who just wants a quick study boost for an exam, but selling Adderall and Ritalin can be punished as severely as selling meth or cocaine. These drugs are classified as Schedule II controlled substances, which is the same classification given to meth and cocaine. Even possession by someone without a valid prescription can result in fines and jail time. A MA drug crimes defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you are facing drug charges.

Signs of Addiction to Adderall, Ritalin, and Similar Drugs

Adderall and Ritalin are highly-addictive prescription drugs that work by increasing levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is often referred to as the “feel good” chemical. Common signs of addiction to Adderall and Ritalin include:

  • Requiring a larger dose to feel the desired effects.
  • Taking the medication even though you know it’s causing harm.
  • Depending on the drug to finish work.
  • Spending significant amounts of money to obtain the drug.
  • Feeling tired or lethargic without the drug.

Penalties for Selling Adderall and Ritalin

Due to their classification as a Schedule II controlled substance, a conviction of selling Adderall or Ritalin may put you behind bars for years. Further, if you are caught selling drugs on school grounds, you may lose your federal student aid and the ability to get student loans. This is true even if you don’t see jail time. As with most crimes, the penalties for selling study drugs are largely dependent on the circumstances of the crime and prior criminal history. Penalties for selling Adderall and Ritalin may include:

  • First offense: Up to one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
  • Second and subsequent offenses: Up to 10 years in prison (with a mandatory three year term), and fines of between $1,000 and $25,000.

Diversion Programs

If you are a first-time offender and are being charged with a non-violent drug offense, you may qualify for a diversion program. MA recognizes that not all individuals charged with drug crimes are criminals. In many cases, drug crime defendants are addicts, and addiction is a disease. As such, treatment and rehabilitation is generally more effective than prison time. A skilled Boston drug crimes attorney can help you determine if you qualify for one of these programs. If you do, upon successful completion of the program, your charges will likely be reduced, or dropped entirely. Continue reading

When it comes to drug possession and sales, cocaine is one of the leading illegal drugs in Massachusetts. Due to the violence and other associated crimes surrounding cocaine use, distribution, and trafficking, MA has become increasingly tough on cocaine charges. Whether in powder or rock form, getting busted for cocaine possession or  distribution carries steep penalties in the Bay State.

If you find yourself facing these charges, the first step is to consult with an experienced Boston defense attorney. A drug conviction can haunt you for years, negatively impacting your ability to get the job you want, and even to find housing. It can also affect child custody arrangements. Drug charges are not something you want to try to fight on your own; the right attorney can make all the difference in the world.

Penalties for Cocaine Possession, Sale, and Trafficking

In MA, as in most states, cocaine possession, sale, and trafficking are felony crimes. Even possession of a small amount of the drug can put you behind bars for up to one year. As with most crimes, the penalty is largely dependent on the circumstances of the underlying offense, as well as past criminal history. If you were busted with a small amount of cocaine intended for personal use and have no criminal record, your penalty will likely be much less severe than that of a three-time offender. The standard penalties for these crimes are as follows:

  • Possession, first offense: Up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
  • Possession, subsequent offense: Up to two years in jail, and up to $2,000 in fines.
  • If you are found in possession of over 14 grams, the charges will be elevated to trafficking.
  • Sale, first offense: Up to 10 years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Sale, subsequent offense: Up to 15 years in prison, and up to $25,000 in fines.
  • Trafficking, 14 to 28 grams: Up to 15 years in prison, and up to $25,000 in fines.
  • Trafficking, 28 to 100 grams: Up to 20 years in prison, and up to $50,000 in fines.
  • Trafficking, 100 to 200 grams: Up to 20 years in prison, and up to $100,000 in fines.
  • Trafficking, over 200 grams: Up to 20 years in prison, and up to $500,000 in fines.

Do I Qualify for a Diversion Program?

As you can see above, the penalties for everything from simple possession to trafficking are quite severe. But there is some good news. The state of MA offers diversion programs for some low-level, non-violent drug offenders. If you were charged with cocaine possession and this is your first offense or second offense, a skilled MA drug defense attorney can help you determine if you are eligible for a diversion program. In many cases, individuals charged with possession are more in need of addiction treatment than time behind bars. Continue reading

If you’re driving through Quincy, you may want to think twice before picking up your smart phone or other handheld device. Effective Friday, April 6, Quincy’s police department has launched a crackdown on distracted driving as part of a larger, statewide effort to make MA highways safer. Quincy police will be looking for distracted drivers, and issuing tickets to those who are using handheld devices while behind the wheel.

The MA Executive Office of Public Safety and Security recently awarded a grant in the amount of $20,000 to the Quincy Police Department. At least part of the funds, which are earmarked for 2017 traffic enforcement operations, will go toward the campaign against distracted driving. Braintree, Norwell, and Weymouth are also taking part in the larger, statewide campaign. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver.

“Our goal is keeping all road users in our community safe,” said Quincy police Capt. John Dougan. “If you text, dial or read a message on your phone while driving, you are endangering the lives of those around you, and you will be stopped. Using our community’s crash data, our officers will determine where the majority of crashes occur and focus their patrols in those areas.”

It’s Against the Law

Writing, reading, or sending electronic messages while driving is against the law in Massachusetts. The same goes for using apps or otherwise “browsing” the internet. And you don’t have to be moving to get busted; it’s just as illegal to text when you’re sitting at a traffic light as when you’re doing 60 down the highway. If you’re under 18 and behind the wheel, all use of electronic devices is prohibited, even making or answering a phone call. If a distracted driver has caused you physical harm or financial loss, a MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to recover damages.

What’s the Penalty?

If you’re caught illegally using an electronic device while driving, you may receive a fine of up to $500. And drivers under 18 could lose their license for up to one year. “It’s something that we are always looking for, but this specific campaign will add extra officers and time devoted strictly to distracted driving enforcement throughout the month of April,” said Quincy police Sgt. Karyn Barkas.

Distracted Driving Statistics

In the United States, more than eight people are killed due to a distracted driver every day. Texting is likely the most dangerous form of distracted driving as it involves every type of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive. But anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road, from using a navigation system to eating, can be a distraction while driving.

  • According to the National Safety Council, 1.6 million motor vehicle crashes annually are a result of cell phone use.
  • One out of every four car crashes in this country is caused by texting while driving.
  • In a recent AAA poll, 94 percent of teen drivers are aware of the dangers of texting while driving, yet 35 percent admit that they do it anyway.
  • Teens are four times more likely than their adult counterparts to be involved in motor vehicle crashes while texting or talking on a cell phone.

Continue reading

Chicago’s DePaul University recently made headlines for something its administration likely hopes will soon be forgotten. Four of the university’s students have been arrested for attempting to sell over 100 Xanax pills to undercover officers. The transactions, which took place on four separate occasions over the last few weeks, are a stark reminder of the reality of prescription drug abuse on college campuses, and throughout the country.

Xanax is one of a number of commonly abused prescription drugs, and it doesn’t discriminate. Like Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Valium, the addictive qualities of Xanax destroy the lives of the young and old, rich and poor, male and female, white and black, alike. All of these drugs are legal when obtained with a valid prescription from a licensed medical doctor, but that doesn’t prevent legal recipients of highly-addictive prescription drugs from becoming dependent on them.

Despite the addictive nature of many prescription drugs, abuse is treated as a crime. It is illegal to purchase, sell, or even possess these medications without a valid prescription. Like heroin and cocaine, prescription drugs are controlled substances, and they are federally regulated like their “street drug” counterparts. As such, getting caught selling, or illegally purchasing or possessing these drugs comes with serious consequences. A MA criminal defense attorney can help if you are facing drug charges.

What is the Penalty for Possession of Illegal Prescription Drugs in MA?

As with most criminal offenses, the penalty for possession of illegal prescription drugs is largely dependent on the nature of the offense and prior criminal history. If, for example, you have no criminal history and you are caught with a small amount of an illegally-acquired prescription drug intended for personal use, your penalty will likely not be too severe. Chances are, you will be charged with a misdemeanor offense, or less. If, on the other hand, you have previously been convicted of distribution of an illegal substance and you are caught manufacturing illegal prescription drugs, the penalty will be much more severe. A Boston drug crimes defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you are facing charges for selling prescription drugs.

Each type of illegal drug falls into a specific category, and most of the dangerous (addictive) prescription drugs are classified as Class B or Class C. For both classes of drug, the penalty for possession is up to one year in jail. Penalties increase for second and subsequent offenses, and if there was an intent to distribute. Whatever the circumstances of your case, it is crucial to hire experienced legal representation. Drug crimes are not taken lightly in MA, and the right lawyer can mean the difference between years behind bars and freedom.  Continue reading

As the cost of prescription medication continues to rise, so does the rate of prescription drug fraud. Although most prescription fraud is related to the abuse of prescription drugs, more and more people are committing this criminal offense to obtain medication they couldn’t otherwise afford. That being said, the lion’s share of this crime is still committed by those who plan to distribute or abuse prescription drugs. If you are being charged with prescription drug fraud, a MA criminal defense attorney is your best line of defense.

Prescription drug fraud used to be limited to signing a prescribing doctor’s name on a stolen prescription sheet. However, electronic medical records and prescriptions have taken this crime to a whole new level. At first glance, it may seem that this type of fraud has become more difficult to commit, but the opposite is actually true. Although the process of electronic prescription fraud is more sophisticated today, it’s actually much easier to pull off. With today’s technology, you don’t even have to leave your living room to commit prescription fraud.

And this type of fraud doesn’t have to involve hacking into a system and forging electronic prescriptions. Even modifying a legitimate prescription (changing the medicine strength or number of refills) is illegal. There are countless ways of committing prescription fraud that may seem less serious…but at the end of the day, fraud is fraud. For example, some people will visit several physicians at the same time, request the same prescription from each physician, and have each prescription called into a different pharmacy before anyone figures out what’s going on. However, this method is becoming increasingly difficult as insurance carriers continue to beef up their systems for sorting out fraudulent claims. The drugs that insurance companies are most concerned with include OxyContin, Xanax, Valium, Percocet, and Vicodin, all which have high rates of abuse.

Penalties for Prescription Drug Fraud

When you forge a prescription, and then present that prescription as an official note from a licensed M.D., you are committing prescription drug fraud. In MA, the penalties for this crime are largely dependent on the nature of the crime and whether or not you have any prior criminal history. Generally, if it is your first offense, you may be facing up to two-and-a-half years in jail, and fines of up to $30,000. For a second offense, the punishment is markedly more severe; you may be looking at up to eight years in prison.

A bit of good news: if this is your first offense, MA usually offers some type of diversion program as an alternative to imprisonment and hefty fines. A Boston defense lawyer can help you determine if you are eligible for such a program. If you qualify, you will likely enter an addiction treatment program. Upon successful completion, your sentence will either be reduced, or all charges will be dropped. Diversion programs are great for keeping you out of jail and keeping your record clean, but they also provide treatment for what is more likely a disease than a crime. Prison is rarely the best place for an addict. Continue reading

Also known as domestic abuse, domestic violence charges are aggressively prosecuted in Massachusetts. To understand how to handle these charges, it’s important to first understand what constitutes domestic violence. In MA, domestic violence includes almost any crime of abuse that is committed by one household member against another. Types of abuse include:

  • An attempt to cause physical harm
  • Causing fear of imminent physical harm
  • Making another engage in sexual relations by physical force, threat, or duress

As you can see from the different forms of abuse above, domestic violence can be emotional and sexual, as well as physical. It can even include economic control and neglect. For example, if a man refuses to buy food for his wife unless she has sexual relations with him, or if a boyfriend locks his girlfriend in the basement for two days because he is jealous of her male friendships.

In order to make an arrest for domestic violence in MA, a police officer must have probable cause to believe that a domestic violence offense has occurred within the past four hours. If the officer believes this to be the case, he or she will arrest the individual believed to be the main aggressor in the incident. In some situations, this is obvious. In others, the primary aggressor is difficult to determine. If a restraining order was violated in the process, state law requires the mandatory arrest of the one in violation.

Charges Cannot be Dropped

In MA, domestic violence cases are not dismissed, even if the victim decides to drop charges. Once filed, only the prosecutor is able to drop charges. And the judge has to approve the prosecutor’s request for case dismissal. It is not uncommon for the State to prosecute a case even when the victim wishes to drop charges and refuses to testify against the defendant. A MA criminal defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you are facing charges for domestic violence.

Penalties for Domestic Abuse in MA

Domestic abuse can be a misdemeanor or a felony. How this charge is classified, and how it is penalized, is largely dependent on the underlying crime, and the defendant’s prior criminal history. In most cases, domestic violence convictions will result in a prison sentence of up to two-and-a-half years and a fine of up to $1,000. Probation, counseling, and substance abuse treatment are often required as well. In some cases, such as when a restraining order was violated in association with the crime, a domestic violence conviction may bring up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. A Boston domestic violence defense lawyer can help you determine what penalties you may be facing based on the nature of your crime. Continue reading

In September 2013, officials linked to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used their power to abruptly close lanes on one of the world’s busiest bridges, the George Washington, for four days. Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff and Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director for the Port Authority, were sentenced last week for their crimes. During Baroni’s sentencing, Judge Susan Wigenton said the crimes were “an outrageous abuse of power,” and that the incident “culminates another unfortunate chapter in the history of New Jersey.”

The 2013 act of political revenge resulted in a sentence of 24 months in prison for Baroni, and 18 months in prison for Kelly. In addition, both were ordered to complete 500 hours of community service, and pay fines. The conviction came in November, when Baroni and Kelly were found guilty on seven counts, including civil rights deprivation, fraud, and conspiracy. A MA defense lawyer can help if you’ve been charged with criminal conspiracy.

The George Washington Bridge, connects Fort Lee, New Jersey with Manhattan. According to court documents, the four-day closure became a serious public safety risk, endangering citizens and causing severe traffic delays. So, why did officials order the abrupt closure of lanes on one of the world’s busiest bridges? The prosecution alleged that the effort was intended to punish Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie’s 2013 bid for re-election.

It’s All in the Emails

Charges were filed following an investigation that uncovered incriminating emails and text messages. In one email between Kelly and former Port Authority official David Wildstein, Kelly wrote, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Kelly claims that the email was sarcastic and humorous and that it referred to results from a recent traffic study. It is estimated that the duo’s actions cost Port Authority over $14,000. In Baroni’s testimony, he claimed that he thought the lane closures were part of a legal traffic study, and that Wildstein had relayed this information to him. Wildstein, who is accused of being the mastermind behind the vengeful incident, pleaded guilty to one civil rights violation and one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud.

Only a Prison Sentence Can Restore the Community’s Faith in Public Institutions

The sentences may seem harsh, but prosecutors believed that a prison sentence was the only way to deal with this level of public corruption. The court documents stated that, ”As both Baroni and Kelly surely understood given their lengthy tenures in New Jersey government, crimes committed by public officials are particularly insidious because they destroy the community’s faith in its own public institutions.”

What is Criminal Conspiracy?

In MA, criminal conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit an unlawful act. Three elements must be present to prove a conspiracy existed in MA. These are:

  • The defendant entered into an agreement with at least one other person.
  • The agreement had a criminal or unlawful purpose.
  • The defendant was aware that the purpose was criminal or unlawful and intended to carry out the act.

Penalties for Criminal Conspiracy

Depending on the offense the defendant was conspiring to commit, and any prior criminal history, the penalties for conspiracy can vary widely. If the underlying offense was a misdemeanor, the penalty is up to two-and-a-half years in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. If, however, the defendant conspired to commit a felony, he or she may be facing up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A Boston defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’re facing criminal conspiracy charges. Continue reading

The words “assault” and “battery” are usually used together to describe the criminal act of physical violence, or the threat of physical violence, against another person. These two words have distinctly separate meanings. However, they also have many similarities and often occur together. While assault can involve just a threat of violence, battery involves the intentional offensive or harmful touching of another person.

The Three Elements of Battery

For a person to be convicted of battery, the following three elements must have been present:

  • The touching was intentional.
  • The touching was offensive or harmful.
  • The victim did not consent to the touching.

It may come as a surprise that battery does not require an intent to harm, only an intent to make contact with the victim. So, accidentally bumping into a person who subsequently falls down and is injured is not battery. But spitting on someone, although it does not result in injury, may constitute battery. Basically, if you make offensive or harmful contact with another person, you may be charged with battery. A Boston defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you are facing battery charges.

Penalties for Battery in Massachusetts

If you have been charged with battery, you may be wondering what penalties you are facing. In MA, individuals convicted of this offense may receive the following penalties:

  • First offense: Up to two-and-a-half years in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • When bodily injury to a child occurs: Up to five years in prison.
  • When significant bodily injury to a child occurs: Up to 15 years in prison.
  • When serious bodily injury occurs, or the act is committed against a pregnant woman: Up to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Second and subsequent offenses against a family member: Up to five years in prison.

As with any crime, penalties for battery are largely dependent on prior criminal history, previous battery-related convictions, and whether any aggravating circumstances were present when you committed the act. If, for example, you have no prior criminal record, you are not likely to face serious penalties if you are charged with battery for spitting on someone. On the other hand, if you have an existing criminal record, and you are charged with battery for harming a pregnant woman, you may be facing some serious time behind bars. In either situation, the help of a skilled MA defense attorney can make all the difference in the world.

Domestic Assault and Battery

Domestic assault and battery is basically the same act as regular assault and battery, with one exception. Domestic assault and battery involves a family or household member. Penalties for this offense depend on the specifics of your particular case, but the standard penalty is up to 30 months in prison, and up to a $1,000 fine. In addition, you may be required to complete a Certified Batterer’s Program, which can cost more than $3,500 in some situations. Continue reading

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