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 Reviews A Recent Boston Unarmed Robbery After Arraignment

A Winchester gentleman is probably reconsidering last week’s recent trip to Boston. This would be because his adventures therein have brought him not only forced monthly visits to Beantown, but also the need for a criminal defense attorney and a couple of blots on his criminal record concerning a certain robbery.

In other words, he was arraigned on Monday.

I am referring to Mr. Ernest G., 28 (hereinafter, the “Defendant”).

You see, the Defendant is now facing criminal charges for allegedly trying to steal a 73-year-old Marblehead woman’s bag in Boston’s South End. Of course, according to the Commonwealth, said theft did not go so well.

When the Defendant allegedly grabbed the bag near the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Yarmouth Street, he fled toward the Southwest Corridor. When he did so, The woman’s grandson and granddaughter ran after him, as did a police officer.

The Defendant was arrested, which did not prevent from his making the situation worse by allegedly threatening the grandchildren.

The Defendant has pleaded not guilty to charges of unarmed robbery of a person over 60 and threats to commit a crime.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

Seems pretty “open and shut”, doesn’t it?

Well, maybe not.

First of all, there are a couple of noteworthy elements in this story which illustrate some points we have discussed in the past.

First of all, certain classes of alleged victims raise crimes perpetrated upon them to a higher level. Race is one of them, as in “hate crimes“. Age is also an element that trigger said level change. In this case, the law considers the complainant elderly, and so the crime is considered worse.

Second, it still amazes me what people who find themselves in sudden unwelcomed police company feel the need to make matters worse. Threatening the kids was making it worse.

Yes, the very threat to commit a crime is a crime in and of itself.

Now, back to my original question. Is this case without a possible defense?

Well, in my experience, very few criminal cases are without any defense, and this is not one of them.

The primary issue in this case is likely to be identification.

” ‘Identification’? But, Sam, the woman saw him, the kids saw him and, at least shortly before the arrest, the police officer saw him.”

No doubt. That is, there is no doubt that the woman saw the person who stole the purse. I would imagine, however, that it all happened pretty quickly. Plus, when you think about it, purse-snatchers usually approach from the side or from behind. The thief in this case then ran off, so it may be that this elderly woman under whatever lighting conditions only saw the back of his head.

“And the kids?”

Same thing. In fact, we do not know that the kids never lost sight of the thief. At some point, we know they told the officer what was going on, so at some point their attention was on the officer.

“The officer is a trained observer, though, right?”

Right, but there is nothing in the story to indicate that he saw the actual theft.

On the other hand, Mr. Defendant, if you are out there reading this, do not celebrate quite yet. There are two other little pieces of evidence that will likely be introduced against you at trial.

The alleged running is likely to be introduced by the Commonwealth as evidence showing “consciousness of guilt”. On this issue, both the kids and the investigating officer will likely be witnesses.

Next, the mistake of threatening the kids, particularly if it was done in front of the police officer, is pretty damning evidence. The defense may well make a motion to sever the charges so that they are tried separately, but this is unlikely to be successful.

On the other hand, it could be an issue for appeal should the trial not go so well.

In short, we are back where we usually find ourselves. The Defendant had best hope he has an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows what he or she is doing!

Should you wish to discuss a criminal case with me, please feel free to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.

For the original story upon which today’s blog is based, please go to http://mobile.boston.com/art/30/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/09/21/man_pleads_not_guilty_to_purse_snatching/

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