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 Infant Tragedies And Homicide Investigations

This has been a sad week for Massachusetts babies.

We began the week with the story about a 13-month old boy being found dead in the back of a van. Now, as the week comes to a close, news of a 3-year-old boy from Weymouth being found dead crosses our bow. This occurred yesterday after what is being called an accident occurring while he was napping according to the Commonwealth.

According to the local district attorney’s office, the death does not appear to be suspicious, although it is still under investigation. What the mysterious accident was has not yet been announced. All we are told is that there was an adult in the home and the child was taking a nap.

It is said that medical results in the case are expected to come in today. Apparently, said result will either close the investigation…or start it anew.

The question, of course, is what do these tragic stories have to do with you?

Attorney Sam’s Take On Massachusetts Criminal Investigations Into Tragic Accidents

A Child Is Found Dead. The very thought of it upsets all of us. It upsetsMassachusetts law enforcement too. After all, they see their job as protecting the innocent. What can be more innocent than a baby? So, I suppose it is not surprising that one of the first responses to such a tragedy is “who is to blame?”

When we began this week, the Boston Criminal Lawyer blog discussed how Massachusetts criminal investigations and prosecutions can result from actions which were admittedly unintentional. While there have been cases of intentional abandonment or murder of a child, cases like the ones presented this week clearly involve, at worst, mistakes.

As we have discussed, however, some mistakes bring more allegations of culpability than others.

When a child is injured, killed or simply found dead, local prosecutors always investigate. After all, cases of Massachusetts domestic abuse, child abuse and child neglect occur frequently in the Commonwealth. When there are living children still in the picture, you can also count on the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) to become involved as well.

For a variety of reasons we could discuss sometime, when a child is dead under suspicious circumstances, there is pressure on law enforcement to find a villain. If one is found, then that person will be likely charged with the homicide, as well as a bevy of other charges.

“If it is the parents who are believed to be guilty of an act which casued the child’s death, Sam, will the Commonwealth really prosecute? Won’t they have suffered enough?”

Yes and yes. The child is dead. There is likely nothing the state could do to the parents that they are not already doing to themselves. However, yes, there would still be a prosecution. There is nothing to “fix”. There is nothing else to do but attribute blame to make everyone feel better.

In any event, the rules of life, if not law, become the same in these cases as we have discussed in the past. Only more so.

Anyone who can be pulled into the criminal investigation in these cases will likely be pulled in. People will assume, either because it is the way things work on television or because of what law enforcement tells them, that if they just cooperate and tell all what they want to know…everything will be okay.

Now, this week’s matters seem pretty limited in scope. But others are not. To be fair, however, given what law enforcement is saying about today’s case, it would appear as if the prosecution is actually going to accept the tragedy as just that.

Not a criminal action.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!


To view the article upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2011/09/12/toddler-found-dead-van-nearby-day-care-center-shut/UiD0aK0s7ohDOwwIMGZjAP/story.xml and http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2011/09/three-year-old-weymouth-boy-dies-while-trying-nap/yzQknAcgNC7XBOShs87QpK/index.html

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