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.

So, it happened again? In a perfect world, we would all learn from our mistakes the first time…but it doesn’t always work that way. If you are facing charges for a second OUI offense in Massachusetts, you will need the help of a skilled OUI defense attorney to minimize the damage. While it is possible to fight a second OUI, it’s not easy, and it certainly isn’t something you want to attempt on your own. Read on for more information about second and subsequent OUI charges, and what options may be available to you.

Put simply, Massachusetts is hard on OUIs, and especially hard on second and subsequent OUIs. That being said, every case is unique. It’s possible that you have been unfairly accused, or that jail time and hefty fines aren’t the best remedy in your particular situation. If a serious alcohol problem is to blame, rather than sheer recklessness and disregard for the law, it’s possible that an alcohol treatment program is a preferable alternative to getting locked up. If you’ve been charged with an OUI, contact a Boston defense attorney today.

What Are the Penalties of a Second OUI Offense?

Every case is different, but the following penalties may apply if you are convicted of a second OUI:

  • Up to two-and-a-half years in jail
  • Fines of up to $10,000
  • License suspension of up to three years
  • Required installation of an Ignition Interlock Device when driving privileges are restored

With the help of experienced legal counsel, you will likely avoid any extended jail time. If alcohol addiction is the culprit, you may have the option of a plea deal with an inpatient alcohol treatment and two years of probation. Although inpatient treatment still requires you to take time off work, it will likely only be a two-week program. And the reality is, if you need help, you need help.

Benefits of Fighting a Second OUI Charge

You may win, you may lose, but with a skilled lawyer by your side, your chances are dramatically improved. And the bottom line is, there are multiple benefits to fighting OUI charges, even for second and subsequent offenses. For example, if you plead guilty to a second offense, you will automatically lose your license for up to three years. That’s a long time to be without wheels. Further, a guilty plea removes your chances of getting a hardship license before your suspension is up. Basically, if you fight the charges and lose, you probably won’t be any worse off. And if you win? Then your record is clean, you avoid jail time, and you don’t have to pay fines. If you are facing OUI charges, contact a MA defense lawyer today.

Treatment is a good option, if it’s available. This is especially true if treatment helps you avoid getting a third offense. The stakes are much higher with a third offense. For starters, a third OUI conviction is a felony. Beyond that, you’ll spend a mandatory 150 days in jail, and you could be behind bars for up to five years. You’ll pay up to $15,000 in fines, and your license will be suspended for up to eight years. To sum it up – don’t get a third OUI offense. Continue reading

Prescription drug abuse is a nationwide problem, and it’s growing. As such, prescription fraud crimes are also on the rise. If you’re facing prescription fraud charges, you could be convicted of drug crimes, but you can also be convicted of forgery. A legal prescription must be signed by a licensed doctor with the appropriate education and credentials to write it. Otherwise, it’s a falsified prescription…and it’s a crime. If you have been charged with prescription drug fraud, contact a Boston defense lawyer today.

Prescription drug abuse impacts all of us. In the United States, approximately 15 million people abuse prescription drugs. That is a higher number than those who abuse heroin, cocaine, inhalants, and hallucinogens, combined. In fact, one survey revealed that about six percent of Americans between the ages of 17 and 25 have abused prescription drugs. In 2005, there were 22,400 drug overdoses in the United States. Of those, 38 percent were the result of opioid painkillers. The most commonly abused prescription drugs are depressants, antidepressants, and opioid painkillers. According to research, one of the problems may be that teens believe prescription drugs to be safer than illegal drugs. About 50 percent of teens surveyed had this misconception.

Fraudulent Prescriptions vs. Valid Prescriptions

There are two types of warrants in Massachusetts, arrest warrants and bench warrants. A bench warrant is generally the less serious of the two. These are issued for multiple reasons, including failure to show up at a court hearing or failure to pay child support. Arrest warrants are usually reserved for more serious criminal cases. In the case of a bench warrant, police don’t usually search out and arrest the defendant, but bench warrants are serious matters and should be handled as such. If a bench warrant is issued against you, your name will be entered into a database that can be accessed by all law enforcement at any time. In addition to fines, a bench warrant can put you behind bars. If you have an outstanding warrant, contact a Boston criminal defense attorney today.

You Can’t Hide From a Warrant

Although bench warrants don’t usually result in an active search, they often end up in an arrest. This is because any dealings with the police – even a minor fender bender for which you’re not at fault – can reveal the bench warrant. If a bench warrant remains unresolved, it can also result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Further, you will not be able to renew an expired license until the matter is resolved.

Last week, police announced the seizure of 83 guns, with 10,000 rounds of ammo and a Nazi helmet from the house of a Massachusetts man. Robert Ivarson, 49, of Lexington, is facing civil rights and harassment charges for allegedly littering the driveway of a black family with banana peels. Following the discovery of the weapons arsenal, Ivarson is facing 13 new charges. In addition to the guns and ammo, law enforcement also found 50 pounds of black powder in the man’s residence.

Ivarson faces multiple counts of possession of a firearm without a license, possession of ammunition without a license, and possession of a large-capacity feeding device. He also faces one count of being an armed career criminal. According to investigators, Ivarson was under video surveillance at the time of the banana incident. He allegedly threw the peels onto the victim’s property on three consecutive days. According to CBS, Ivarson is currently on house arrest, facing hate crime charges. He will be arraigned for the weapons charges this week. If you’ve been charged with any type of criminal offense, contact a Boston defense attorney today.

Hate Crimes

According to Massachusetts state Attorney General Maura Healey, there has been an increase in reports of harassment of minorities, immigrants, and Muslims since the election. In response, Healey created a hotline for MA residents to report hate crimes.  “This is just about making sure that people understand that we’re going to protect their rights, we’re going to work to protect their safety, and there is no place for  bias-motivated threats, harassment or violence anywhere here in Massachusetts,” said Healey.

Hate Crime Punishment

So, what is the punishment for a hate crime in Massachusetts? And what constitutes a hate crime? Generally speaking, a hate crime is a traditional crime that is motivated by a bias toward a person who is a member of a protected group. For example, throwing a rock threw a random window is a crime, but not a hate crime. If, however, the rock is thrown into the window because the occupant is black, gay, Muslim, or a member of another protected group, it is probably a hate crime.

In the state of MA, there are three elements to a hate crime:

  • Underlying crime: This can be property damage, assault, or battery.
  • Intent: The act must not have been an accident. Rather, the offender must have acted to intimidate or threaten the victim.
  • Victim’s protected status: Protected status includes race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or gender identity.

Generally speaking, hate crimes are prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office. In some cases, however, the defendant may be prosecuted civilly instead of criminally, or in addition to criminal charges. If you’ve been charged with any type of crime, contact a Boston criminal defense lawyer today. Continue reading

Vermont governor Peter Shumlin recently issued 192 pardons to individuals with marijuana convictions, as long as the offenses were not related to DUI charges or violent crimes. This bold move begs the question, will Massachusetts follow suit? Although pot has been decriminalized in Vermont, the green mountain state still hasn’t legalized recreational use. So, if Vermont can pardon those convicted of pot crimes, can’t Mass?

How can people be locked up for something that is no longer a crime? It’s a good question, and a problem that certain MA lawmakers are trying to resolve. A group consisting of the ACLU, Massachusetts Senator Jamie Eldridge, and Horace Small, the Executive DIrector of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, is currently crafting new legislation that would apply marijuana legalization retroactively throughout the state. This new legislation would, in turn, free individuals who are behind bars because of pot. “We’ve approved medical marijuana, decriminalization and now legalization. It shows that the voters don’t believe the people who possess or sell marijuana should be in jail,” said Sen. Eldridge in a recent statement to the Boston Globe.

Behind Bars for a Crime That is No Longer a Crime?

If the group gets its way, “offenders” who are in jail for nonviolent marijuana offenses will be released, and their related criminal records will be expunged. In addition to being fair, retroactive legalization would also help alleviate some of the overwhelming costs associated with mass incarceration in MA. “We have to look at releasing folks who are in jail for marijuana crimes that are no longer crimes,” Small said. “It’s only fair now that the prohibition is over to retroactively erase these records. Sometime in the next month or two we’ll have a piece of legislation.”

But not everyone agrees.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson thinks a blanket retroactive measure is unfair. “It’s counterproductive and it undermines the judicial system,” Hodgson said. Further, Hodgson and some others who share his view believe that many offenders are locked up for marijuana charges because of plea deals based on more serious crimes.

But Eldridge and Small agree that releasing violent criminals would be a mistake. “This doesn’t apply to someone working for a cartel or something,” Small said. “We need to look at what’s realistic and what’s over the top — there are a lot of conversations that we need to have.”

It seems that a case-by-case basis for retroactive legalization may be the first step.

In the case of Vermont’s pardoning, the crimes are forgiven and criminal punishments come to a close, but a pardon does not clear an individual’s criminal record. An expungement, on the other hand, does. If Eldridge and Small’s legislation passes, not only will marijuana “offenders” be released from jail, their related criminal records will be wiped clean. If an individual’s pot charge is associated with a violent crime or an OUI, however, expungement is not likely. Immigration status may also come into play. In any case, if you would like to receive an expungement for a marijuana conviction, contact a Boston criminal defense attorney today. Continue reading

In Massachusetts, public intoxication is not a crime, but other alcohol-related issues may be. For example, if police are called because a “drunk man” is wandering around a residential neighborhood, the man will likely be assisted home, or into protective custody until he sobers up. However, if that same man gets angry and punches an inquisitive neighbor moments before the police arrive, he may end up facing assault charges.

In addition to assault charges, people who are publicly intoxicated can make a slew of other illegal mistakes, such as getting behind the wheel of a car or vandalizing the property of another. Police may also discover other issues when questioning an individual who appears to be intoxicated, such as finding a weapon or illegal drugs on his or her person. However, public intoxication itself remains a nuisance, not a crime. If you are arrested for alcohol-related charges, contact a Boston criminal defense attorney today.

When public intoxication becomes enough of an issue that law enforcement steps in, the intoxicated individual can be taken into custody. This does not constitute an arrest. Police may escort the person home, to the hospital, or even to the police station for protective custody. If police determine that the hospital or police station is the appropriate destination, they must first inform the intoxicated individual of his or her right to take a breathalyzer test. Once the person sobers up, he or she may be released from protective custody.

What is Disorderly Conduct?

As public intoxication is not a crime, there are no specific penalties. That is, unless aggravating circumstances existed, such as drunk driving, possession of weapons or drugs, assault, or disorderly conduct. In fact, charges of disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace often accompany public intoxication cases. So, what actually constitutes disorderly conduct?

You are considered to be a “disorderly person” if you engage in fighting, threatening behavior, excessively noisy behavior or violent behavior, or if you purposely create dangerous conditions to annoy or scare others. For example, you can be arrested for disorderly conduct for screaming in a residential neighborhood late at night. You can also be charged with disorderly conduct for excessively using lewd or offensive speech in public.

If you are convicted of disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace, you may receive a fine of up to $150 for a first offense. If this is your second or subsequent conviction, you may spend up to six months in jail and receive a fine of up to $200. If you have been arrested for disorderly conduct, contact a Boston defense lawyer today. Continue reading

A recent report issued by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety titled “Unlicensed to Kill” focuses on unlicensed drivers on America’s roadways. According to the report, approximately one out of every five fatal vehicle crashes involves an unlicensed driver, or a driver whose license is in question by law enforcement. The report goes on to say that about 8,500 fatal car accidents are caused by unlicensed drivers annually. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving an unlicensed driver.

The Link Between Fatal Crashes and Unlicensed Drivers

Research has revealed that individuals with license suspensions and cancellations are more likely to use excessive speed, drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and to be distracted while driving. Of the fatal accidents caused by unlicensed drivers, about 30 percent are caused by drivers who have had at least three license suspensions or cancellations in the previous three years. “It’s like a revolving door. These people are being suspended and suspended and suspended again, and still, they’re driving,” said Lindsay I. Griffin, researcher at the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University.Young adults, between the ages of 21 and 34, are the most likely to have a revoked or suspended license. Most disturbing, in nearly 50 percent of the fatal accidents involving an unlicensed driver, the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

No License, No Insurance

Drivers without valid licenses are not eligible for motor vehicle insurance, which means that recovering damages in an accident involving an unlicensed driver is more difficult. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can be added to your existing insurance policy to protect you against extreme losses. This type of coverage will cover full or partial damages if you’re in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have liability insurance, or whose liability limit is too low to cover your expenses. If you don’t already carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, it is in your best interest to add this coverage to your existing policy today. The cost is generally quite small, but it could make a world of difference if you’re involved in an accident with an this type of driver.

How to Avoid an Accident Involving an Unlicensed Driver

It’s impossible to identify unlicensed drivers while you’re driving, so how do you avoid a collision with one of these unlawful drivers? The best way to avoid an accident with any negligent motorist is to always remain alert when driving. Stay focused on the road and avoid distractions, such as texting or talking on the phone, adjusting the stereo or navigation system, and eating or applying makeup. Defensive driving is the single best protection against car crashes. Maintain plenty of distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you, drive at or under the speed limit, and avoid vehicles that appear to be speeding or driving erratically. Continue reading

Shoplifting may sound like a minor charge, but a criminal record is never a laughing matter. It can come back to haunt you for years, affecting your ability to get certain jobs, find housing, or obtain custody of your children. A shoplifting conviction can even destroy your credit and bank account. If you have been charged with shoplifting, or any form of theft, contact a Boston defense attorney today.

Was it a Mistake?

Getting caught “red handed” can be embarrassing, especially if the shoplifting accusation is a mistake. If you were not charged for an item or the cashier neglected to remove the sensor from a garment of clothing, you could find yourself unfairly accused of stealing. If you wish to fight the charges against you, the first step is to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Criminal Record

In Massachusetts, shoplifting is included under criminal larceny statutes, which make the act of taking property without permission a crime. But will a shoplifting conviction go on your criminal record? The answer to this question is generally dependent on the severity of the charge. If the item you were attempting to steal was of exceptionally little value, such as a pack of gum, and there were no aggravating circumstances, you will likely receive a criminal citation. This may not go on your criminal record. However, if you are caught shoplifting three Macbooks, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense. In the second scenario, the conviction will definitely show up on your criminal record.

Credit Troubles

A shoplifting conviction can cost more than fines, jail time, and a criminal record. It may also ruin your credit. In many cases, a shoplifter will receive a civil demand letter which requires them to reimburse the store for what they stole or damaged. This is in addition to the fines associated with the crime itself. If the shoplifter refuses, or is unable to pay, he or she may receive a negative civil judgment. This could, in turn, affect his or her credit. If you are facing shoplifting charges, contact a MA defense attorney today.

Shoplifting Penalties

The penalties for shoplifting vary widely, but the guidelines below provide a good indication of the penalties you might face if you get caught shoplifting:

  • Shoplifting merchandise valued at less than $100: With no prior offenses, you will likely only receive a fine of up to $250.
  • Shoplifting merchandise valued at up to $100 with no more than one prior offense: A fine of up to $500.
  • Shoplifting merchandise valued at up to $100 with at least two prior offenses: Up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $500.
  • Shoplifting merchandise valued at more than $100: Up to two-and-a-half years in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Shoplifting charges don’t always result in a conviction. By working with a skilled defense attorney, your chances of reduced or dismissed charges are greatly improved. There are many defenses against shoplifting charges, including a mistake made by the store, a mistake made by a witness, or failure to prove all elements of the shoplifting charge. Continue reading

More than two years have passed since a MA teen allegedly encouraged her boyfriend, via text, to commit suicide. In July, 2014, Conrad Roy III took his own life by locking himself inside his truck as it filled with carbon monoxide. According to prosecutors, Roy was on the phone with his girlfriend Michelle Carter throughout the process. As evidenced through the pair’s text message exchange, Roy began to have second thoughts, but Carter urged him to carry out the act.

“It’s Now or Never”

Prosecutors have sifted through hundreds of text messages between Roy and Carter, leading up to the incident. Carter allegedly wrote: “You need to stop thinking about this and just do it,” and, “There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. it’s now or never.” Roy had been undergoing mental health treatment since 2011, and had previously attempted suicide in 2013. If you are facing criminal charges, contact a MA criminal defense lawyer today.

Teen’s Text Message Was a “Direct Causal Link to {Boyfriend’s} Death”

On February 6, 2016, Carter was indicted as a youthful offender, charged with involuntary manslaughter. Now 19, Carter has been banned from using social media since 2015. Her defense attorney argued that Carter’s conduct did not cause the young man to kill himself, but the Supreme Judicial Court in MA did not agree. The Court recently ruled that Carter’s actions constituted a “systematic campaign of coercion”, and that her statement “get back in” was a “direct causal link to his death.”

At one point during the final moments of Roy’s life, the teen exited the car and told Carter he was reconsidering his decision to take his own life. His girlfriend urged him to get back in his car.

An investigation of the text messages between Roy and Carter revealed multiple communications from Carter urging Roy to commit suicide. “Instead of attempting to assist him or notify his family or school officials, Ms. Carter is alleged to have strongly influenced his decision to take his own life, encouraged him to commit suicide and guided him in his engagement of activities which led to his death,” said Gregg Miliote, director of communications for the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office. If you have been charged with any type of crime, contact a Boston criminal defense attorney today.

What is Involuntary Manslaughter?

In the state of Massachusetts, involuntary manslaughter occurs when an individual unintentionally causes the death of another while engaged in reckless conduct. The punishment for involuntary manslaughter is up to 20 years in prison and can include substantial fines. If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, you may also be required to pay victim restitution. In the above case, the defendant is charged as a youthful offender because she was under 18 at the time of the crime. Continue reading

If you find yourself at the center of a DEA investigation, your first step should be to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately. DEA stands for Drug Enforcement Administration, an agency that was created in the mid-70s to combat an increase in drug-related crime. The DEA is tasked with the enforcement of illegal drug laws. To achieve this goal, DEA agents apprehend offenders and prosecute for civil and criminal crimes.

Depending on the type and quantity of the drug in question, some drug cases require mandatory minimum sentences in Massachusetts. The most common drug offenses in MA are drug possession and drug trafficking. Read on for more information about how the DEA operates in the United States and abroad. And if you are facing drug charges, contact a Boston criminal defense lawyer today.

DEA Authority

The main role of the DEA is to reduce drug crime and the problems that typically accompany it. To do so, the DEA:

  • Operates a drug intelligence program at the local, state, and international levels.
  • Enforces anti-drug laws.
  • Reduces the availability of illicit drugs.
  • Cooperates with other organizations, such as the United Nations and Interpol, to enforce international anti-drug initiatives and policies.
  • Provides educational programs aimed at reducing U.S. drug abuse through the Demand Reduction Program.
  • Monitors prescription drug activity to reduce illegal distribution.
  • Helps drug crime victims and witnesses through a program called Victim-Witness Assistance.
  • Maintains a list of the Most Wanted Fugitives of drug offenders in the U.S. and abroad.

DEA Intelligence

Three types of drug intelligence are collected by the DEA – strategic, tactical, and investigative – and each type serves a unique purpose. Tactical information is used to make arrests and seizures. Strategic intelligence allows for the creation of effective policies, and investigative data is used during prosecutions. In order to effectively reduce drug crime, more than 680 Intelligence Analysts are positioned in multiple locations across the globe. If you have been charged with any type of drug crime, contact a MA criminal defense attorney today.

All pharmaceutical manufacturing and sales are closely monitored by the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control. To ensure that prescription medications aren’t diverted for illegal use, the Office of Diversion Control requires that workers who handle controlled substances must always:

  • Register with the DEA
  • Keep thorough records
  • Follow all drug security rules

In addition to enforcing the requirements above, this office also monitors and enforces international import-export treaties.

Demand Reduction

The DEA created the Demand Reduction Program (DRP) to reduce the global demand for drugs. This three-tiered approach combines law enforcement, treatment, and prevention through educational information, school programs, and websites. For example, JustThinkTwice.com is a website written for teens and GetSmartAboutDrugs.com is an educational tool for parents. Continue reading

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