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.

MA TEEN CHARGED WITH VEHICULAR ASSAULT ON BOSTON COLLEGE STUDENT HELD ON BAIL

Bethany P., 21, of Londonderry, N.H. (hereinafter, the “Victim”) will not be returning to her Boston College senior class this week. You see, she met up with a Weston lad’s SUV this weekend. The lad was allegedly Benjamin K., an 18 year old gentleman (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) who the Commonwealth claims was driving drunk. The Defendant pleaded not guilty today, alongside his attorney. Nonetheless, he was ordered held on $50,000 bail.

The Victim was struck as she crossed St. Thomas More Road at around 12:55am Sunday morning. The Defendant was driving his parents’ Toyota Land Cruiser. She is said to have sustained “serious” injuries, but was listed in good condition Monday morning at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, according to state police and a hospital spokesman.

While the Victim was alone at the time of the accident, the accident scene is full of student dormitories and an administrative building.

According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant left the Victim unconscious and bleeding in the road and left the scene of the accident. He was thereafter apprehended by BC police after a bulletin was sent out about the SUV. He was arrested as he tried to exit the college’s grounds.

The Defendant was given, agreed to take and promptly failed a field sobriety test, had red, glassy eyes, slurred speech and smelled of liquor, according to police. Finding consistency a comfort, he then apparently agreed to take a breathalyzer test which he also failed. Police say that he blew a 0.18 and 0.20

The legal limit is .08.

The Defendant, who has no prior record, is a recent graduate of Noble and Greenough Academy, He has been admitted to Elon University in North Carolina but had taken this year off to study oceanography and work.

The Defendant is charged with leaving the scene of personal injury and death, reckless operation of a motor vehicle and operating under the influence of alcohol causing serious injury, and negligent operation.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

Making the decision as to whether or not take a breathalyzer test and participate in field sobriety tests is not always a clear cut and easy choice. Things, however, can certainly go wrong with both and I usually advise not doing them…particularly if you have been drinking. I will go out on a limb here, though, and suggest that if you have just been so toasted that you ran someone down and kept going, necessitating the police to capture you, it is probably not a good idea.

Of course, the Defendant is still presumed innocent, at least here, and so we do not know if that advise applies in this case.

One thing, however, is true regardless of where the truth lies in this case. Two young lives are savagely altered. The Victim has substantial injuries and we can only hope that she will have a complete and quick recovery. Certainly, the memory of the event is likely to haunt her for years to come regardless of how complete her recovery is.

The Defendant? Well, of course, that is a different story.

If he is factually innocent, then this is one of those nightmares that is not supposed to happen. Not only are his school plans about to be put on hold, but his entire future is at risk. From now on, this event, however it ends up, will have to be addressed on school and job applications. True, if he is acquitted of everything, he may be able to seal the record. Maybe.

There is also the civil side of things. There is likely to be a personal injury lawsuit as a result of this event. Even if he is found not guilty by a jury or judge, this will not prevent such a lawsuit. The burden of proof is much higher in a criminal case than in a civil suit. Therefore, it does not preclude the civil lawsuit. One need only remember the O.J. Simpson case (I mean…the murder one, not the burglary one) for a public example of that.

“Hey, Sam…what if he is…believe it or not…actually guilty?”

Well, then, his future has absolutely been greatly compromised. All the above still goes, except worse. There will be no sealing of the record, at least not for many years, and it will appear his applications to anything for probably the rest of his life. There will also be more implications to his driving rights. Of course, that may not matter too much as he may be in prison during that time.

The fact that he is alleged to have been drunk at the time of the accident will raise the stakes of this matter to felony level. Leaving the scene, of course, will end up making matters even worse. In fact, it likely already has in terms of bail. He has shown a propensity to flee. That suggests that he will not return to court unless bail is high.

Yes, as we have discussed, it also gives the Commonwealth “consciousness of guilt” evidence to use against him at trial.

…And, yes, the criminal conviction for this matter will greatly increase the value of the upcoming civil suit.

In short, the Defendant has not handled this very difficult situation very wisely. Certainly, if he was the driver involved in the vehicular assault, leaving the scene was a big mistake. Second, if he was drunk, taking the tests was another big mistake.

We do not know at this point if he made any statements…but it would not tax the imagination too much to assume it a possibility.

In short, he needs the help of a gifted and very experienced attorney to help him in this crisis. This is not a case in which he or the family want to take the cheaper road. The kid’s entire future is at stake and only an experienced attorney is going to be able to truly help in terms of damage control.

Should you find yourself or someone you care about to be facing such a situation, you want one too. If you wish to discuss the matter with me, please feel free to call me at (617) 206-1942.

For the full article upon which today’s blog is based, go to http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/20091207boston_college_senior_struck_by_allegedly_drunk_teens_suv/srvc=home&position=0

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