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.

Boston Student Held Without Bail Despite Attorney’s Attempts

This past weekend, there was a party on the campus of Amherst College.

There was a little trouble. The result?

One youth lies in a hospital bed recovering from multiple stab wounds. Another, Marcus S., 21 of Boston (hereinafter, the “Defendant”), actually a student of University of Massachusetts, appeared in court yesterday as his lawyer tried to get him released on bail.

That attempt was not successful.

Amherst police responded to the call for assistance from the Amherst College Police Department at about 1 a.m. on Sunday . There had been a stabbing at Crossett Dormitory on the Amherst College campus. Upon arrival, officers discovered that a 20-year-old Amherst College student had been stabbed multiple times in the back and chest. He was transported by ambulance to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield where he was treated for injuries that were not deemed to be life-threatening.

The police became suspicious of the Defendant, who was covered in blood, but only had a minor cut on his thumb. Upon investigation, according to the arresting officer, the two men had argued about a girl with whom the Defendant had been dancing.

The Defendant was treated for his hand injury. Said treatment was capped by the Commonwealth’s bracelets of shame and housing at the local correctional establishment.

The Defendant has been charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a well-known Massachusetts felony. The case is pending in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Massachusetts. He has pleaded “not guilty” and is being held without bail until his next court date in March.

A University of Massachusetts spokesman explained the school’s disciplinary process. Apparently, the dean of students reviews information about incidents that could violate the student code of conduct. The dean may take a variety of actions separate from any judicial proceedings in the matter. These include expulsion, suspension, probation, removal from campus housing, housing relocation and a reprimand.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

The days of “boys will be boys” in school fights is long over. First of all, any violence is treated too seriously to allow it. This is so for many reasons, but the best one is probably that kids don’t just fist fight anymore. Weapons are more and more likely to be used. In this case, the weapon was a knife. The victim is lucky it was not a gun.

Both men are lucky that there was no death. However, it would appear that this was not for lack of trying. It is likely that this matter will be indicted and brought up to superior court. If so, the charges could well include Assault with Intent to Murder, given the amount and location of the stab wounds.

Naturally, if the victim had died, the best the Defendant could have hoped for in terms of reduced charges would be Massachusetts manslaughter charges, although I would assume that murder itself would have been initially charged.

School policies differ from institution to institution, of course. However, Stabbing someone multiple times in the chest and back likely violates University of Massachusetts’ student code of conduct. What often happens in these cases is that the school is willing to wait to see what happens with the criminal matter. In the meantime, however, the student is often suspended or, at least, not allowed on campus until the resolution.

Key ingredients of this decision are often whether the crime was committed on school property and if the accused is considered a threat to others. In this case, the Defendant is being held because the court has deemed he could be a threat to the community at large, so I would imagine that the school will follow that lead. Of course, it really does not matter. If the Defendant cannot leave jail, he is quite unlikely to return to campus. On the other hand, in case the court ends up reducing the restrictions (for example on a bail appeal), and the Defendant makes bail, the school may well issue a “stay away” directive.

And so we have an argument over a girl (not terribly unusual) leading to one kid’s almost death and another being held without bail facing many years in prison and a record which will impact his life for the rest of it.

Kinda scary how one out-of-control moment can potentially ruin (or end) two young lives, huh?

The full articles of this story can be found at http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/02/umass_amherst_s.html , , http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/02/umass_student_pleads_innocent.html and http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/02/10/student_held_in_amherst_dorm_stabbing/

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