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 Lawyer/Former Defendant Fights Domestic Violence Case

Today’s daily Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog features two people who are well known to the criminal justice system. In fact, one of them was featured in a posting on April 7th and can be found here.

Harold P., 41, of Lynn, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) is a former youth sports coach and Lynn Classical hall monitor. The former hall rule enforcement official is in trouble with the law.

Again.

The Defendant had faced charges back in 2002. He had been accused of a sexual assault matter concerning a Lynn Classical student at that time. In 2005, he was exonerated.
On April 4th, 2009, however, he found himself charged with domestic violence.

This Monday, the Defendant was arraigned at Lynn District Court. He posted $200 bail, but reportedly fled court before he was supposed to. Because of that, he now has an outstanding warrant out for his arrest.

“It’s all a big misunderstanding,” said Lynn native and Boston attorney Gary Zerola. “He has never failed in his obligations and he just misunderstood what he was supposed to do.”

Attorney Zerola knows what it is like to be “misunderstood” in the criminal justice system. He has been in the Defendant’s position himself. Four times, in fact, the last of which was covered by a posting of this blog earlier this week.

Zerola said the Defendant’s arrest stems from a verbal disagreement with his long-time girlfriend, who was sitting with him in court Monday and was holding his hand.

“She tried to tell police that it [the assault] didn’t happen and that nothing physical happened toward her, but the police didn’t listen to the person who was supposed to be the alleged victim,” he said. “The police said they have witnesses that were driving by at about 40 mph, but we’ll see what happens with that.”

Zerola said his client is currently with one of his children on a planned vacation and is not fleeing the law in any sense.

“He asked me to try and resolve the issue and I anticipate a court date next week,” he said. “He’s [the Defendant] a good person with a great heart that fulfills his responsibilities whether it’s family or the court.”

Attorney Sam’s Take:

The Defendant now finds himself in a very common position.

No, I am not talking about having an experienced criminal defendant as his attorney.
Nor am I talking about having a warrant out for his arrest…misunderstanding or not.
I am talking about sitting in court facing charges with the complainant who insists that the entire situation has been blown out of proportion and that no assault took place.

In days gone by, these types of allegations were ignored by law enforcement. The result? Often, homicide. To fix this problem, the courts have now gone to the other extreme.

I could not begin to count how many domestic violence matters I have handled. Often, of course, they are the straight-forward matters in which the complainant indicates that he or she was indeed assaulted or threatened by the defendant. The level of truth of the allegations, of course, varies from matter to matter. However, there are increasing numbers of cases wherein a verbal disagreement took place and either a neighbor calls the police because the argument was loud or one of the arguers decides to call the police.

“Wait a minute, Sam”, you shrug at the computer screen. “Why would they call 911 if nothing violent is going on?”

Good question. It has quite a few answers. Sometimes tempers get out of control and calling the authorities is momentarily seen as a dramatic argument-ending “gotcha!”. Sometimes, it is because the verbal argument has gone so far that the image of television police officers coming simply to “quiet the scene” gets confused with reality.

The fact is, in a domestic dispute, the police will not simply come to calm things down. If they come, someone is going to jail. Coincidentally, there often appear vague police reports that are either called erroneous by the complainant or are simply just vague enough to lead to a criminal complaint.

Once the complaint issues, and the defendant is brought to court, however, there is a very real criminal case. The complainant can keep indicating that it is all a misunderstanding, but this seldom leads to the matter being dismissed. Even in cases where a spousal privilege to not testify is going to be invoked, the matter continues down the road to a trial date.

One must remember that the plaintiff in a criminal matter is the Commonwealth, not the alleged victim.

What does this mean to you? If you are accused of one of these crimes, do not make the mistake of figuring, “well, that’ll be dropped as soon as Lovey and I go to court and explain what happened”. Chances are, that is not what is going to happen.

The case is real. It is also serious.

Get a real attorney. One with a lot of experience in handling these matters.
It doesn’t have to be a former criminal defendant…not that there is anything wrong with that either.

Have a good, safe and law-abiding Passover, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and, of course, weekend!

NOTE TO READERS:If you tried to access my daily blog yesterday, you found that the site was undergoing “maintenance” and so was unavailable. So did I, which was why I could not post a blog yesterday. Sorry about that. Otherwise, yes, we are still daily, Monday through Friday.

The full article of this story can be found at http://www.thedailyitemoflynn.com/articles/2009/04/09/news/news05.txt

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