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.

MASSACHUSETTS WEAPONS, ALCOHOL AND ASSAULTS ON A HALLOWEEN NIGHT

Tonight is Halloween in Massachusetts. Well, except for the various cities and towns who have had to move the festivities to later because of this weekend’s weather issues.

Now, I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, and, hey, I enjoy seeing the celebrations of monsters, mass murderers and creatures of the night as much as the next guy…but there are some potential law enforcement dangers of which you might want to be aware.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Potential Legal Issues On Halloween Night

“Aw, c’mon, Sam! Do you have to ruin this for us too? I mean, everybody knows that the costumed charactors who prowl the streets on Halloween night are simply fun-loving celebrants who mean no harm, right?”

Well, yes and no. I must announce my bias first, though. As I have mentioned in the past, I live in Salem, MA. Halloween night is a bigger holiday than Christmas and Chanuka put together where I live. In fact, the celebration really begins with a parade much earlier in October and seems to be celebrated by blocking all traffic in every way imaginable for the rest of the month.

Police officers are everywhere! Now, I would imagine that most of the officers, who are, after all, only human, enjoy a lot of what they see. However, they are particularly aware of what they see in terms of any disturbances.

For example, many people out in costume are not kids (at least not biologically). Adults also enjoy the holiday and often enjoy adult beverages (alcohol) while doing so. This can bring loud behavior. It can sometimes bring belligerant behavior. It can even bring downright violent behavior.

Police officers are watching for this. If someone becomes the victim of a Salem asssault or a Roxbury murder on this particular night, the press takes even more interest than other nights. The same is true with Massachusetts motor vehicle crimes.

“Why would they be on the lookout for drivers too?”

Because sometimes people get struck by motor vehicles, be it the fault of the driver, the pedestrian or both. In fact, many of the celebrants who were once on foot retreat to the vehicle. I remind you that drunk driving remains a crime in the Commonwealth.

How many times have you left home the day after Halloween to find trees decorated with toilet paper and smashed pumpkins and various fruits around the streets and sometimes caked onto houses? Well, traditionally, I suppose, this is the night for it. On the other hand, it is illegal. Destruction of property and unauthorized neighborhood decorating remain illegal and the laws are not suspended for the night of Halloween.

“Then, why doesn’t everybody get arrested every Halloween?”

Well, as mentioned above, the police officers are also human beings. They tend to cut alittle bit of slack to celebrants as we all tend to do. Up to a point, that is.

“What point is that?”

It is a moving point, dictated by attitude. We have often discussed how it is a foolish act to challenge an officer’s authority in the field. It is a challenge that generally ends up giving little satisfaction to the challenger…the rewards generally range from being arrested to suffering a lot of injuries and getting arrested.

Still, when alcohol consumption is high, common sense levels tend to lower. Further, you will find some folks mislabering under the assumption that wearing a costume of someone tough makes them untouchable.

They aren’t.

When it comes to someone giving the police a hard time, costumes do not impress.

Speaking of costumes, the thought of Massachusetts guns and other weapons come to mind.

It may seem like it is obvious that that weapon associated with your costume is only a toy. However, there is something about a beligerant costumed creature stinking of alcohol and acting hostile toward the police that can make that officer a bit uncomfortable when said toy comes out in a threatening fashion.

There have been quite a number of folks who were lucky enough to get a real “neat-o” toy gun that really looks real…who end up dead because someone was not so sure it was a toy and did not want to risk their life to find out.

So, go out there and have a great Halloween everybody, but be a bit careful. There are many people out there. Most are harmless. Others are not. And the folks who are responsible for everone seeing another day are wearing blue.

As a long-time Boston Criminal Lawyer, I must warn you…don’t screw with them.

As a fellow human being, I can only wish you a great, safe and law-abiding Halloween night!

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