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.

MOTOR VEHICLE CRIMES AND TRAGEDIES ARE ALREADY NEWSWORTHY IN MASSACHUSETTS ONE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS

This experienced Boston criminal lawyer checked into Boston.com this morning to get a view of what was happening over the weekend in the Commonwealth. It would appear that ‘Tis already the season for vehicular crimes throughout the Bay State.

• In Peabody, an 88-year-old woman was struck by a car at a major intersection. According to authorities, she suffered life threatening injuries, including head injury, from the collision. No criminal charges have been brought yet as the matter is still under investigation.

• In Springfield, two people, including a woman who is seven months pregnant, were injured in a highway collision due allegedly to one car swerving in and out of lanes and losing control, spinning into a guardrail, and travelling back into another lane. A second vehicle apparently swerved to avoid the first vehicle and crashed into another guardrail. Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to help folks out of their vehicles. While the matter is still under investigation, law enforcement says that civil motor vehicle infractions citations will be brought against the first car.

• A Haverhill motor vehicle homicide allegedly took place, killing a woman who was known to care for nearly 200 foster children, collected Christmas gifts for kids and provided meals for the poor at Thanksgiving. She was on her way to church when she was allegedly struck by a drunken driver.

• On Friday, the driver of a car involved in a crash that killed a Framingham State University student this month was charged with Operating Under the Influence and vehicular homicide.

All this…and we have barely had any snow on the ground yet…!

Attorney Sam’s Take Motor Vehicle Crimes And The Holidays

The stories of car accidents and fatalities may not be as exciting to read as the myriad of recent stories concerning sex crimes and other assault and battery cases in schoolyards and locker rooms, but they are no less serious.

For everyone involved.

While there is no question of the effect on the injured or killed (as well as their loved ones) in such matters, the tragic results are also quite harsh to the drivers who end up with the new last name of “Defendant“. It is very seldom that the allegations against such a driver include the willful injuring or ending of another’s life. However, the results can be just as serious as if it was intentional.

And to the law, it can be just as blameworthy.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other interest groups have accomplished a great deal in the harsher treatment in such cases, at least when alcohol is involved. Whether or not you agree with their views, said views are adopted by the government and acted upon accordingly.

While there is an understanding of how alcoholism can be a disease, it is not considered an excuse. It is voluntary intoxication under the law, and so the fact that the injuries or deaths may not have been intentional, the drinking was. Further, charges like Driving to Endanger and the newly formed laws about texting and cell phone use have made what used to be called “accidents” considered almost intentional.

In other words, “I did not mean for that to happen” is not a defense. Further, particularly around the holidays, your driving is being watched and there is basically no tolerance for “slips” in this regard.

So, what does this mean to you, a potential criminal defendant whether you accept that fact or not?

Well, first of all, be very careful. Be especially careful not to become another statistic in OUI news stories. It is simply not advisable to drive while under the influence of anything. It does not matter whether that “anything” is a legal or illegal substance. Driving under its influence is most assuredly illegal.

Similarly, even if you are completely sober, drive carefully. First of all, there are going to be plenty of folks who, for whatever reason, are driving erratically. Particularly during the holidays, you want to drive defensively.

I remind you that, although you may believe the accident was not your fault, investigators might opine otherwise. And it is their opinions that will dictate who gets charged.

Secondly, and along that line, do not assume that your gift to gab is likely to convince law enforcement to find in your favor. There is a whole family group who are known for weaving fantastic tales and giving statements immediately to the police. Their last names are “Defendant”. Be careful.

This is not to say you should never speak to investigating officers. However, you have to have your best wits about you if you do so. Otherwise, what you say is going to come back and haunt you. I also remind you that if you are perceived to be lying to the investigators, you are opening the door to being charged with “Intimidation of a Witness”, a felony, along with whatever other charges come your way.

There is one word of warning I can give you in virtually all cases.

Consult an experienced criminal defense attorney at the first possible instant. It is likely that you will not know if you are hurting or helping yourself in whatever you do in your own defense until you do so.

Which should give you another reason not to drive while under the influence…you are a lot less likely to have a clear head and consider these suggestions if you are.

…And giving the prosecution the holiday gift of an inculpatory statement is not going to mean the gift of “kid gloves” in return.

To view the articles upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk?p1=Well_Local_Banner

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