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.

Attorney Sam’s Take: Can The Beatles Get You Arrested For Domestic Violence Or Other Crimes?

First of all, allow me to establish that I am an ardent Beatles fan. Second, let me confess that I have been imbedded in the criminal justice system for about a quarter of a century. As such, there is a certain type of “ear” that I have developed over the years to pick up criminal-justice-related tidbits.

Yesterday, there was a lot of Beatles activity…pretty impressive given that the band disbanded almost 50 years ago. Topping the list of newly released items were a video game and a box set of all the original releases on remastered cds packaged together with video “mini-documentaries”. Naturally, I played the part of consumer. Then, as I contemplated the weekly “Attorney Sam” feature of this daily blog, some of the Beatles’ lyrics came back to me.

There are obvious crime-related Beatles songs. “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is such an example. In it, a handful of murders are conducted by our young hero with the aid of his trusty silver weapon which he manages to smuggle in everywhere, including school, court and the local police station. Of course, on the other side of the law, there is “Lovely Rita”. Here, the singer is courting (no pun intended) a meter maid.

The Beatles’ rock ‘n roll view of romance is particular interest. “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” comes to mind, for example. It could, I suppose be simply walking and whistling a happy tune that the fad four are suggesting, but most people think they are talking about something a bit more sexual in nature. Clearly not a good suggestion. Assuming that one survived the oncoming traffic, one would soon be arrested and prosecuted for a host of criminal acts which fall under the purview of the sexual offender registry. Of course, speaking of which, the song “Little Child”, wherein the singer, who is “sad and lonely” asks a young thing to “take a chance” on him would also interest many prosecutors. Of course, he is suggesting that they only dance…!

I can see the Commonwewlth’s sexual assault expert now testifying that “things like ‘dancing’ are simply a ruse used by the offender who gains the child’s trust…!”

Speaking of romantic tunes, the song “No Reply” is an interesting song in view of today’s attention to stalking and restraining orders. Looking into the windows and following your particular object of infatuation tends to be frowned upon these days…even if you believe “she needs you”, as in the song “For No One”. Want to take it a step further? Check out the lyrics of “Run For Your Life”. I don’t know if the “little girl” in this song bears any relation to the “little child” in the so-entitled song mentioned above, but mutter most of these lyrics to your intended and you might just find yourself behind bars. Think I am exaggerating? How do the words, “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man”, “Better run for your life if you can, little girl. Catch you with another guy, that’s the end. Little girl”.

Of course, this was written before domestic violence cases were so popular.

Speaking of romance and warmth…let’s look at a song about warm, cuddly happiness. Let’s think of the song “Happiness Is A Warm Gun“, wherein the singer describes to his little friend how much it means to him when his finger is on the trigger and so he knows the world can do him “no harm”.

In today’s post-9-1-1 world, I am also not so sure how mainstream songs calling for a revolution might go over.

“Aw, come one, Sam. You are really stretching things beyond limits here today”, you might say. “Who would take their direction from a Beatles’ song?”

Anybody out there remember a fella named Charlie Manson? He is said to have been inspired by the Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter”.

Of course, Mr. Manson was not exactly our idea of a “regular guy”.

I remind you that this is certainly not an anti-Beatles posting. I am a huge (and now alittle poorer) fan. I just think it is interesting that, while we are very aware of today’s music with admittedly more explicit lyrics, we may have forgotten musical works of art of yesteryear which could potentially catch the similar recognition.

“But, Sam, this is a criminal justice blog, not a musical review blog.

You’re right. And here is the criminal justice message. People do often get moved by their emotions and inspiration. Music often effects these things. Do not get so caught up in the moment of inspiration so much that you lose sense of reality. Belive it or not, I have handled many a case were that mistake was made.

“The music made me do it”, is not a defense in today’s courts unless you are perhaps you are going for an insanity plea.

If, on the other hand, you have become carried away with the moment or the music, and are now finding yourself either being investigated or actually accused of committing an act they tell you is illegal, and you would like to discuss it with me, feel free to call me at 617-492-3000.

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