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.

North Of Boston, A Robbery Victim Gets Lucky

Here is a cautionary tale out of Lynn, Massachusetts, that could have ended much differently.

On Monday night, shortly after 10:00pm, Jackeline H., 26, of Haverhill, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”), earned the Commonwealth’s Bracelets of Shame after an alleged robbery.

According to the police, a certain unnamed gentleman (hereinafter, “Mr. Unnamed”) had just dropped off his girlfriend at her home and was now sitting in his car on Lewis Street, perhaps lost in thoughts of a lovely romantic evening, with a pile of cash just lying in the center console. $240 in cash to be exact.

Suddenly, according to the police, the Defendant suddenly appeared out of nowhere and jumped into the “Car o’ Cash”. She asked the driver if he wanted to buy a pair of sunglasses.

He answered “No”

At that point, the Defendant took the more direct approach and allegedly grabbed the money and jumped out of the car.

Mr. Unnamed, then, followed her down the street demanding his money back. This continued until the Defendant allegedly said she had a screw driver and, “Don’t come any closer or I’ll stab you,” according to a police report.

Police arrived at the corner of Cherry and Lewis streets and talked to both people before placing the Defendant under arrest.

Lynn District Court Judge James Wexler released the Defendant on personal recognizance at her arraignment Tuesday.

The Defendant in this case, allegedly unknown to Mr. Unnamed, was well known to the police. She had previously been arrested in Lynn on August 7th for domestic assault and battery and an outstanding warrant. She was also arrested twice in June for prostitution.

Samuel’s take:

We have a couple of lessons to take from this. First of all, beware of simply sitting in your car in Lynn late at night with a wad of a couple hundred dollars in cash on the console which can somehow be seen from outside the car by passers-by…who might have a record for prostitution. Some people might get the wrong idea. Also, I suppose, when following them, and they start talking about hurting you with a screwdriver if you continue to follow them, you could get hurt. So, while perhaps considered “lucky” that he did not get injured by the Defendant and her screw driver, it is generally not a risk worth taking. In some such situations, the weapon could be a gun.

You know, some people coming upon the scene might see this situation a bit differently than the police did. One could suspect that this was a prostitution deal gone bad for some reason. Or, having been in the car, she could have started screaming rape or that he actually robbed her. If these things had happened, it is a good bet that the label of “Defendant” would have been on the other party.

In any event, this would be an interesting case to follow because I have a sneaking suspicion that there may be more to it than meets the eye. However, we all know from this daily blog how suspicious I am.

There is, however, a very serious lesson here. Whatever the true circumstances were, Mr. Unnamed, at the very least, was at the “wrong place” at the “wrong time”. He could have easily found himself on the other side of the criminal justice aisle. He is fortunate that the Defendant was known to the police and that she did not come up with any accusations which would have taken the focus off her. If she had, this could have, and probably would have, ended much differently.

Let me take that a step further. Let’s say Mr. Unnamed had been on probation and she started claiming he had attacked her or offered her money for sex or something else illegal. He likely would have been arrested. Being arrested means violating probation. Violating probation often means jail…before the merits of the new allegation are even decided.

So, take it as a warning that it is another example of how trouble can find you even if you are innocently driving around Lynn at night with a wad of cash shining through your window to passers-by or simply sitting in your car basking in the moonlight. Even a person with a lengthy record can be a victim of a crime or simply accuse someone of a crime. True, they may have a credibility problem….so you might win the case. After many months to a year spent in criminal justice hell.

Be smart. Do not assume yourself to be prosecution-proof. If you are accused of a crime, get an experienced lawyer fast. If you are on probation…be very careful where you are and what you are doing.

And, oh yes, sitting in your car simply observing the scenery in areas known for some criminal activity late at night with a wad of cash somehow visible to the outside world is not a fantastic idea in any case.

The full article of this story can be found at http://www.thedailyitemoflynn.com/articles/2008/10/15/news/news08.txt

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