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.

A Bomb Threat Is Not A Good Defense To Probation Violations

As last week came to a close in Lawrence, Massachusetts, its district court had a little excitement. A bomb scare was declared. Now, those believed behind the scare are facing criminal charges and need lawyers.

The reason for the bomb scare?

Perspective probation violation.

Yes, the police allege that Jamiel W.,18 (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) had been scheduled for a drug analysis test. It was a part of his probation requirements. It was also a test that he believed he would not pass.

Failing the test could land him back in jail.

Unfortunately for the Defendant, law enforcement tends to take things like bomb scares fairly seriously given that this is the age of terrorism.

Courthouse maintenance workers found a medium size, tan suitcase with a cellular telephone and note on top outside the glass doors of the courthouse building at around 7 a.m. last Friday. The handwritten note attached to the suitcase urged its reader to “contact the FBI, the bomb squad and all news channels.” It also warned of “bombs in the bathrooms” that were disguised as “virgin mobile fones,”.

Area streets were cordoned off as a precaution, as court workers gathered in the public parking lot watching as the state police bomb squad used a robot to detonate the package.

In the meantime, cconcerned that a bomb scare might be a diversion, police officers raced to guard every bank in Lawrence authorities said. Police went to the banks as a precaution after a series of recent incidents in which bomb threats and bank robberies coincided.

Finally, the bomb scare was over and people were allowed back into the courthouse.

Game over? Successful perpetrators? Not quite.

This is also the age of technology, and law enforcement has a lot of it at its disposal.

The State Police Crime Laboratory in Danvers tested the note and say they lifted the Defendant’s fingerprint off the handwritten threats.

And so it was that Lawrence police, joined by members of the State Police Bomb Squad and Fire and Explosion Investigations Unit, arrested the Defendant last night in a local rooming house, changing his surrounds from walls to bars. He is due to be arraigned today in Lawrence District Court on charges of making a false bomb threat, disturbing the peace and placement of a hoax device. That will probably not look so good to probation either.

In the meantime, the police also arrested a second man in connection with the crime after state police lab technicians found three of his prints. He is said not to be directly involved in planting the fake bomb, but knew of the Defendant’s scheme because he handled the “bomb threat” note, Police Chief John Romero said last night. At least, that is what the Defendant’s pal admitted to. The statement did not help him too much; he faces the same charges as the Defendant.

The Defendant himself made admissions as well and explained to the police that he alone had plantied the device after being ordered by his probation officer to report to court Friday morning for a drug test.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

There are a couple of lessons one can take from today’s posting of the Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog.

First of all, bomb scares are not taken lightly anymore…assuming they ever were.

Particularly since September 11, 2001, these things are immediately considered terrorist attempts that could easily end up in a great deal of death and destruction. The arrests in this case did not take too long because of the fingerprint evidence. However, even if not for the fingerprint evidence, you may be sure that the matter would have been investigated to its fullest.

We have talked about Massachusetts probation violations before. It is easy to be found in violation and, yes, being surrendered in a probation matter can land you back in jail. One might suggest it is best to try not to do anything that might cause such a result. However, the result of incarceration is not necessarily a given. If you have a decent relationship with a reasonable probation officer, and, perhaps, an experienced attorney, you might be able to work things out short of imprisonment.

However, one of the first things listed under the category of things not to do is to call in a bomb scare to get out of it. No probation officer or judge is likely to feel terribly sympathetic for you after that.

One last note. You may be wondering why the Defendant’s friend is facing the same charges he is (absent the probation issues). This is because if two or more people have some involvement in the same criminal enterprise, they can be said to be involved in a “joint venture” which makes each person responsible for what the other does in the furtherance of that enterprise. It is basically considered a conspiracy.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

The full article of this story can be found at http://www.eagletribune.com/punews/local_story_091010237.html and http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/03/lawrence_courth.html

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