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.

The Miranda rule, more commonly known as the “right to remain silent,” goes as follows:

You have the right to remain silent;

If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law;

You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during any questioning;

If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire.

The rule was named for Miranda v. Arizona, a case in which the defendant provided incriminating information to the prosecution because he was unaware of his right to remain silent. Since this landmark case occurred decades ago, law enforcement must inform people of their Miranda right when they are placed under arrest.

There are, however, four exceptions to the Miranda rule. They are:

Before the Arrest

The Miranda rule applies once the individual is taken into custody (arrested), not before. However, anything you say prior to your arrest can still be used against you. That being said, police are not supposed to begin interrogations until you have been taken into custody. So, unless you are just nervously spouting off unsolicited information, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. At this stage, the only information you are required to provide is of the identifying sort, such as your name, address and date of birth. If police ask you for additional information without first reading you the Miranda warning, they could be in violation of your constitutional rights. A MA criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with any type of crime.

Private Citizens

Not everyone involved in an arrest is subject to the Miranda rule. It applies to government and “state agents,” such as prosecutors and police officers, but what about private citizens, undercover agents and jailhouse informants? According to a Supreme Court ruling, even if these individuals are paid by the government to perform a duty, they are not subject to the Miranda rule.

Imminent Danger

If imminent danger to the public prevents an officer(s) from reading the Miranda rights before custodial interrogation, a statement obtained during the course of that interrogation may, under certain circumstances, still be used against the defendant. Such a situation occurred during the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing, when the suspect was interrogated before receiving his Miranda rights. When a suspected terrorist attack or other imminent threat creates a sense of urgency, responses obtained without Miranda rights may, in comes cases, still be admissible in court.

Waiving Your Rights

In addition to the above situations, you can also waive your Miranda rights. Not surprisingly, this is not a recommended tactic, especially without first having consulted with your attorney. A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with any type of crime. Continue reading

Today’s Boston Globe  updated us about a certain Uber driver, rape allegations against him and his showing the poor judgment of making a statement to law enforcement.

26-year old Ranjan Thapa (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) stood before the court on Monday. He has been accused of raping an intoxicated female passenger in his car in Boston over the weekend.

His statement?

He allegedly told the police, “I know I’m in trouble, I had sex with her,” prosecutors told the court.

His reward? Held on $10,000 bail.

Authorities allege the Defendant preyed on a woman who was so incapacitated that she could barely speak to investigators soon after the alleged rape.

She had been visiting a college friend Saturday evening, and the two became separated while they were drinking at a South Boston bar, a Boston police incident report said. The Commonwealth argues that an Uber was called for the woman, and a bouncer had to escort her to the Defendant’s vehicle when he pulled up shortly after 11:10 p.m.

At some point after midnight, the Defendant drove around Northeastern University police officers and told them that “his passenger was drunk,” had urinated in his car, and wouldn’t tell him where she wanted to go, the report said. The officers noted the woman was “reclined in the [front] passenger” seat with her pants unzipped and partially pulled down, according to the report. He allegedly also explained that, “I know I’m in trouble, I had sex with her.” The police report said the woman was “unable to communicate” on Hemenway Street and still couldn’t talk to investigators at a city hospital early Sunday.

The Defendant was able to talk, though. And according to the prosecution, that he did. He gave an interview to Boston police investigators, claiming the woman “refused to put her seat belt on” in his car and appeared drunk, the report said. “He further stated that at some point the victim did put her feet up on the dashboard, pulled down her pants, and urinated on his front passenger seat,” the report said.

In his apparent own defense, the Defendant is said to have claimed that the woman began grabbing him and saying she “wanted to [expletive] him,” the filing said. He told police they had intercourse twice, once on the driver’s seat and again on the front passenger seat, according to the report.

He apparently also explained that he had accepted the woman’s advances because he hadn’t “been with a woman in several years.” He rounded it all out with telling the police, “I knew I shouldn’t have done it. I knew I’d get in trouble”.

And the police ended up proving him right.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Taking Your Own Legal Advice…Especially When You Are Not A Lawyer

It would seem that it was the Defendant himself who involved law enforcement into his evening’s activities. That being the case, I guess it become alittle less shocking that he made the statements attributed to him.

Continue reading

In finishing this 3-part-blog, we turn away from police officers and video tapes. Those specifics were not the point that I think is vital to be made.

I read on, as well as several other venues, the story of Sonja Farak (the “Chemist”) and her tale of woe.

She is the latest Commonwealth chemist who has admitted to tainting and falsifying drug evidence to the point that thousands of criminal convictions have to be thrown out…after many folks have already spent significant time behind bars and had their lives ruined because of her.

The Chemist has admitted that she indulged a voracious drug habit for years, siphoning police evidence she was tasked with preserving and testing.

She was arrested in 2013 and pleaded guilty in 2014.

Of course, she is not the only such chemist who has gone rogue. Over the past years, you and I have discussed a number of cases where evidence had been significantly tampered with by chemists, police officers and other prosecutorial officials.

Continue reading

The crime of rape, whether committed by someone the victim knows and trusts or a complete stranger, often involves alcohol or other drugs. Women who have had too much to drink are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault and rape, including date rape. Although certain drugs come to mind when the term “date rape drugs” is used, any drug can increase the risk of sexual assault.

That being said, there are three drugs that are commonly referred to as date rape drugs – Ketamine, GHB and Rohypnol (often called “roofies”). Simply being in possession of one of these drugs won’t necessarily carry a stiffer penalty than being in possession of a non-date rape drug of the same class. If, however, you committed a sexual assault while in possession of the drug, or the prosecution believes you intended to do so, you may be facing some serious time behind bars.

What is Rohypnol?

Commonly referred to as roofies, Rohypnol is a prescription drug used to treat severe insomnia. In addition to being a powerful muscle relaxer and sedative, the drug can also induce amnesia. Even a very small amount of the drug can have these effects, which generally last for up to 12 hours. Although not approved for use in the U.S., Rohypnol is available in Mexico and Europe.

Although most commonly associated with date rape, Rohypnol is also a popular recreational drug. The same is true of Ketamine (often called Special K) and GHB, both of which produce similar effects to Rohypnol. A Boston drug crimes defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with drug possession.

Penalties for Possession of a Date Rape Drug

As with all criminal offenses, the punishment is based on multiple factors, including prior criminal history, the severity of the crime and the unique circumstances of the case. In MA, you may be facing the following penalties if you are found in possession of Rohypnol.

  • Simple possession: Up to three years in prison and a minimum fine of $5,000.
  • Possession with intent to distribute: A minimum of 10 years in prison, up to life, and a fine of up to $4 million. If the crime resulted in someone’s death, the minimum sentence is increased to 20 years.

Although Rohypnol is classified as a Schedule IV drug (low risk of abuse), it is punished as a Schedule I drug. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD. A MA drug crimes defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with any type of drug crime.

The penalties above pertain to possession, not drugging a person with the intent to engage in sexual intercourse. If you used Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine or any other drug to sexually assault another person, you may be facing 10 years imprisonment with the possibility of life in prison. Continue reading

As some advocate for more lenient drug laws and rehabilitation instead of punishment, the Trump administration is suggesting that the best way to fight the opioid epidemic in this country is to execute drug dealers. According to White House officials, Trump has shown particular interest in Singapore’s policy of capital punishment for drug dealers.

“Some countries have a very tough penalty, the ultimate penalty, and they have much less of a drug problem than we do,” said Trump at a White House summit on opioids earlier this month.

And last year, Trump praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Thousands of people have been killed by the police as a result of Duterte’s “drug war.” A Boston drug crimes defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with any type of drug crime.

Opioid addiction has reached crisis levels in the United States, with nearly 64,000 people dying from the drug in 2016. Most Americans would agree that something has to be done to stop this growing problem. But the death penalty?

Are Drug Dealers Ever Executed?

Under current federal laws, the death penalty may be used in drug cases, but only in these four extreme situations:

  • When a drug-related drive-by shooting results in a murder;
  • When a drug-related murder is committed with a firearm;
  • When a murder is is committed in relation to drug trafficking;
  • When a law enforcement officer is killed in a drug-related situation.

Unintended Consequences

Fentanyl, a powerful opioid can be fatal, even in small amounts. As such, the Trump administration has suggested implementing the death penalty for individuals convicted of trafficking large amounts of fentanyl. But critics of making fentanyl-trafficking a capital crime argue that doing so could bring an onslaught of unintended consequences. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor at University of California at San Francisco, believes fear of the death penalty could drive addicts underground as well.

“It will keep people from any positive interface with police, any positive interface with public health, any interface with doctors,” said Ciccarone, adding that fewer addicts might seek treatment. “People will become afraid and hide. They won’t trust the police, and they won’t trust the doctor either.” A MA drug crimes defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with any type of drug crime.

Further, Regina LaBelle, Obama’s deputy chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said that laws that currently allow for the death penalty to be applied to drug-related cases haven’t had a measurable deterrent effect.

What are the Penalties for Trafficking Opioids in Massachusetts?

In MA, the current punishment for trafficking large quantities of opioids is up to 20 years in prison. Although harsh, 20 years with the possibility of parole pales in comparison to the death penalty. Continue reading

Martin Shkreli gained notoriety in 2016 by spiking the price of a life-saving HIV drug by about 5,000 percent. Dubbed ‘Pharma Bro,’ he later found himself in hot water for committing investment fraud. Although his lawyer was pushing for less than 18 months, Shkreli was recently sentenced to seven years in prison. During his sentencing, ‘Pharma Bro’ seemed much less cocky than he has in the past.

When Shkreli first learned of the criminal charges against him, he predicted that he’d never do any time in jail. But his prediction was quickly proven wrong. Unfortunately for him, his bail was immediately revoked after he jokingly offered money to any person who could obtain a lock of hair from then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Shkreli, who was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy on August 5, 2017, appeared more humble in court on Friday, as he admitted to his many mistakes. In fact, the 34-year-old broke into tears, pleading for leniency from the judge.

In MA – and all states – a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher will likely result in an OUI or DWI conviction. If you happen to be under 21 at the time of your arrest, you can be convicted if your BAC is .01 percent. And the penalties for even a first-offense OUI can wreak havoc on a person’s life.

Do Any of these Scenarios Sound Familiar?

Fortunately, there are multiple defenses against drunk driving charges. Maybe the breath test readings were inaccurate, or maybe you were never read the Miranda warning. Although an  above-limit breath test reading is difficult to challenge, it is not impossible. If any of the scenarios below sound familiar, an experienced MA OUI defense attorney may be able to get your charges reduced, or dismissed entirely.

  • No probable cause: If police stopped your vehicle and arrested you for OUI without probable cause, any evidence may be inadmissible in court. There are some exceptions to the probable cause rule, however. Namely, checkpoints and roadblocks.
  • No Miranda warnings: If you were taken into police custody but weren’t read the Miranda warnings prior to questioning, any statement you made likely cannot be used against you.
  • The officer failed to warn you that refusing a breath test would result in an automatic license suspension: If you were never warned of this consequence, breath test results may be inadmissible in court.
  • The breath test was administered incorrectly: If the officer did not comply with state requirements dictating how the breath test should be maintained and calibrated, the test results may be thrown out.
  • Inaccurate test results: Test results may also be inadmissible if a faulty machine, an incompetent technician or other circumstances created the potential for error. Breath test machines can give inaccurate readings due to certain foods and medications. For example, taking a non-impairing prescription drug prior to the test could lead to a misleading result.

The above defenses have the best shot at being successful with the help of an experienced Boston OUI defense attorney. Even a first-offense OUI can lead to license suspension, the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), hefty fines and jail time. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that an attorney is not necessary. The right legal counsel can be the difference between a clean record and time behind bars.

Penalties for OUI Offenses in MA 1st Offense – Up to 30 months in jail and fines of up to $5,000

2nd Offense – Up to 30 months in jail and fines of up to $10,000

3rd Offense – Up to five years in jail and fines of up to $25,000

In addition to the above penalties, an OUI conviction also carries a license suspension and – in some cases – the need to install an IID in your vehicle. For a first offense, the standard license suspension is one year. For a second offense, you will lose your license for two years, and a third offense will result in an eight-year license suspension. Long story short, don’t drink and drive. But if you made a mistake, hire an experienced attorney today. Continue reading

As we continue our voyage through the seasons, at the rate of a season a day, let’s continue with our discussion begun last week.

A recent article in the Boston Herald, , discussed the recent run of videos which reveal the underside of law enforcement officers which most people would rather ignore.  Generally speaking, if anyone else acted in this way, the result would most likely be Assault charges.

We discussed one such case last week.  There are many more. In fact, cellphone videos capturing intense interactions between law enforcement and residents have caused repeated headaches for the Boston Police Department in recent years.

The origin of some of the videos, however, might surprise you.

For example, back in June, A movie trailer-style video described a local cop and a “dog with a limp” as partners “in the fight between good and evil.” The video ends with text that reads: “This summer, black people have met their match.”

Apparently, this particular video was created by Police Officer Joseph DeAngelo, Jr. For his “art”, he was suspended for six months without pay, put on probation for another six months and was ordered to undergo “significant” unconscious bias retraining.

Ya think?

Continue reading

Cocaine is one of the most heavily-trafficked illegal drugs in Massachusetts today. Unfortunately, cocaine possession, trafficking and distribution are often associated with gang activity and other forms of violences. As such, even possession of a small amount of cocaine can land you in prison.

Cocaine is regulated at the state and federal level. In MA, penalties for cocaine-related crimes are severe. In some cases, you may be able to get a plea bargain in exchange for information that helps prosecute high-level traffickers. MA also has specialized drug courts for low-level offenders. If you qualify for such a program, you may be able to avoid jail time in exchange for treatment and rehabilitation. No matter what your situation, it is absolutely essential to hire skilled legal representation. A Boston drug crimes defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with cocaine possession or distribution.

Penalties for Cocaine Possession and Distribution

As with any criminal charge, the penalties for cocaine possession, distribution and trafficking can vary based on prior criminal history and the particulars of your case. If you have been charged with a cocaine-related crime, you may be facing the following penalties

  • Possession – first offense: Up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. It is considered trafficking if you have 14 grams or more in your possession.
  • Possession – second offense: Up to two years in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
  • Sale – first offense: Up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. It is considered trafficking if you have 14 grams or more in your possession.
  • Sale – second offense: Up to two years in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
  • Trafficking – between 12 and 28 grams: Three to 15 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
  • Trafficking – between 28 and 100 grams: Five to 20 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
  • Trafficking – between 100 and 200 grams: 10 to 20 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
  • Trafficking – over 200 grams: 15 to 20 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.

In MA, cocaine in powder or rock form (crack) is a Class B Controlled Substance. In addition to severe penalties and fines, you will end up with a criminal record if you are convicted. Having a record for cocaine possession or distribution can negatively impact your ability to get a job or housing for years into the future.

Alternative Sentencing

In many cases, prison is the absolute worst place for an individual charged with a drug crime. If you were found in possession of a small amount of cocaine, a treatment program may be a better option than time behind bars. If you qualify for such a program, you might walk away with a clean record once you’ve satisfied all of the program’s requirements, including obeying all laws, submitting to regular drug and alcohol testing, avoiding certain people, and completing a drug treatment program. A MA drug crimes defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with any type of drug crime. Continue reading

With its strict gun laws, Massachusetts has one of the lowest gun-related death rates in the country. In 2014, MA tightened its restrictions even more, providing law enforcement with increased discretion to deny gun permits to “unsuitable” individuals. MA also has strict regulations about assault weapons and has long been part of a nationwide effort to prevent individuals who are deemed mentally ill from obtaining guns. In fact, according to Guns & Ammo magazine, MA has the third tightest gun control regime in the nation.

Gun control has been center stage in recent years, with mass shootings occurring across the country annually. A massacre committed by one man with automatic weapons in Las Vegas last year resulted in the death of dozens, and most recently, a deadly school shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida has brought the debate between gun control and gun rights activists to a head.

Statistics show that states with stricter gun laws do have fewer gun deaths. In fact, firearm-related deaths in MA are 70 percent less than the national average. Further, many of the guns used in crimes in MA come from other states, including a significant percentage from Georgia and Florida.

Stiffer Penalties to Come?

Due to the increase in concern about mass shootings in the U.S., punishment for crimes involving guns is likely to keep getting stricter. If you were arrested on a gun charge, it is absolutely essential to obtain highly-skilled legal representation without delay. A Boston gun crimes defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with any type of firearms offense.

Current Penalties for Common Gun Crimes

There are many criminal offenses associated with gun possession. Below are some of the most common charges:

  • Carrying a dangerous weapon: If you are found with a firearm in your vehicle but don’t have a permit, you may be charged with this crime. Other offenses that fall under this category include being in possession of a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, brass knuckles, throwing stars, or nunchucks. The penalty for carrying a dangerous weapon is up to two-and-a-half years in prison.
  • Committing a felony while in possession of a firearm: If you have a gun on you while in commission of a felony, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment for a first offense. For a second or subsequent offense, you will be facing a minimum of 20 years in prison. The mandatory minimum sentence will be in addition to the sentence for the underlying felony.
  • Carrying a loaded gun while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs: If you are found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while in possession of a loaded firearm, having a permit will not protect you from being charged. The penalty for this offense is up to two-and-a-half years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

A MA criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with any type of firearms offense. Continue reading

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