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’S TAKE ON THE REMAINDER OF MASSACHUSETTS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES

It is impossible to tell you all you need to know about Massachusetts domestic violence cases in just three short blogs. Perhaps I will write a book on the subject (solicitations anyone?). However, here are a few other tidbits that most people do not consider which this Boston criminal lawyer things you should know:

Clearly, if, in a “lover’s spat”, one such lover physically assaults another, that is a crime which should be reported. However, many people these days seem to think that calling the police and embellishing a bit is a neat way to win an argument. “After all”, they figure, “tomorrow morning I will tell the police and the court to forget about it.”

Hopefully by now, you have gotten the message that it does not work that way. If there is no legal marriage between the accused and accuser, then there is no spousal privilege. This means that the Commonwealth, which now has decided that what you originally said took place is the truth will not be detoured simply because you have changed your mind. As if they have blinders on, the original statement was the truth and if the complainant is changing that narrative, then she must be lying now. In any event, the Commonwealth will proceed to trial and force you onto the stand.

“What if I change my story to the truth on the stand?”

You will likely be threatened with a host of crimes ranging from intimidation of a witness to perjury.

“Well, what should I do if I am in that position?”

My advice is that you should contact an experienced attorney to help you out of it. And, by the way, I would not suggest doing it again.

Of course, if you have kids living with you and your beloved, then you have two nightmares to deal with. There is the criminal prosecution as well as the investigation, services and hearings of the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”). Because there are kids living at a scene wherein the Commonwealth believes violence took place, they will launch into action out of a stated desire to save the child. However, like their prosecutorial counterparts, they will likely believe the original allegations as well. In fact, should you tell them that the allegations were not true during the investigation, they may actually indicate that such an opinion may be grounds to take additional action which could lead to the removal of the child at the home.

“What if I didn’t make the allegations, but the child, or someone else, did and I know it is not true?”


The both the Commonwealth and DCF will view you as choosing your lover over the well-being of your child and you will have the same situation.

In either case, it is a big mess.

“Well, what should I do if I am in that position?”

You should contact an experienced attorney to help you navigate these very rough waters.

If the above has not sufficiently scared you to the point of trying to convince yourself that I am not really telling you the truth here, let’s move onto another particularly heinous aspect of many of these cases.

Vengeful Vicky is really angry at her boyfriend, Gary Givitaway. You see, Gary has a really difficult time with the idea of monogamy. Vicky has found Gary in the middle of yet another lie to cover up another one of his indiscretions. She has had it. They argue. He storms out. Enraged, she picks up the telephone and calls the police to tell them that he struck her just before running out of the apartment.

It should not shock you that Gary shortly finds himself facing criminal charges. However, in this scenario, Vicky has not changed her mind as morning approached. In fact, when she finds out that he got released from jail on rather low, or no, bail, she is angry again.

Well, we know that Vicky likes to call the authorities when she is angry. We also know that Vicky’s relationship with the truth is similar to Gary’s relationship to monogamy.

She calls the police and explains that Gary was just outside her window yelling that he was going to “get” her.

I think you get the picture as to what happens next. Gary suddenly has new charges. However, it is worse than that. Because he picked up these new charges while out on bail, he can be held in jail without bail for a spell.

“Well, wouldn’t they wait to see how the new charges shake out because he is presumed innocent?”

No. He has been charged with a crime. That is all it takes. Exit the presumption of innocence and Enter the assumption of guilt.

Would you like it alittle worse?

At the time of the first charges in this case, Gary was on probation for another case in which he had pleaded guilty. Vicky’s first angry phone call which led to his new charges have now produced a violation of probation. Therefore, while the charges by Vicky are being resolved, and while Gary is allegedly presumed innocent of those charges, he may well be the subject of a probation surrender and sentenced to jail, or state prison, on the probation matter.

One more thing…Let’s assume that on the day of the probation surrender, the prosecutor and probation officer agree to be “lenient”. They agree that if Gary agrees to plead guilty for assaulting Vicky, then the prosecutor will agree to just keep on probation, although adding additional time for the probation term, and the probation officer agrees not to ask for incarceration.

In other words, Gary has a choice to make. One choice is to be locked up without bail for awhile on the new case and potentially sent away for a longer sentence because of the probation surrender. The other is to plead guilty to Vicky’s charges, which were not true, and get out of incarceration now.

Which do you think he would do? Which would you do?

Let’s assume that Gary decides he would like to see the light of day today. He pleads guilty.

Do you think the nightmare is over?

That depends. How is Vicky’s temper doing?

We have all heard the quotes about “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. Well, here is the good news…it does not have to be a woman complainant. It is now pretty much equal opportunity.

The bad news?

The risks are greater than they ever have been before. The worst part of it? Law enforcement and other Commonwealth agencies, although they know the realities of the situation refuse to do anything about it.

The only thing you can do when you find yourself in these hot waters?

You got it…contact an experienced attorney to help you tread, swim and survive.

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

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