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.

3 MEN CHARGED WITH DISORDERLY CONDUCT AND DISTURBING THE PEACE FOR STABBING HOAX

Sometimes, pretending there is a crime is a crime.

Over the Labor Day weekend, a few fellows had the great idea to play a trick in Lawrence.
According to law enforcement, they decided it would be kind of neat to convince folks attending a religious festival that a stabbing was taking place.

They were successful, if you want to call it that. Convinced that the bloody crime was taking place, several people paced frantic calls to 911 to report the stabbing.

Police came and apparently did not see the humor of it all. They played a little trick of their own. They arrested the tricksters who may have videoed their little jest so that they could post it on YouTube.

And so it was that Josette Osorio of Haverhill, Vincent Bencivenga III of Lawrence, and Mark Hatch of Methuen appeared in Lawrence district court to answer charges including disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.

They have all pleaded “not guilty”.

Police Chief John Romero says that the suspects were 50 yards from the Feast of the Three Saints, which attracted about 15,000 people. He says the stunt made “no sense.”

Attorney Sam’s Take On Hoaxes And Disorderly Conduct

What is funny to one person may not be funny to another; it certainly may not be funny to the police.

And then, you are in trouble.

The definitions of crimes like disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace are pretty general. Basically, if you offend the police, it fits into disorderly conduct.

“But what if you are simply exercising your Constitutional Rights…like the one to free speech?”


Those rights are not absolute. In fact, they couldn’t be because there are too many people whose rights, or exercising of the those rights, could differ.

The example that is usually used it the fact that you cannot yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. Another way to put it, although it fits more with the crime of assault and battery, is that my right to stretch my arm ends at the beginning of your face. Otherwise, it is technically a battery if it is offensive.

It is no big surprise that what the defendants did in this case was offensive to the police. Very few officers of the law find murder calls very funny. Especially given the recent killings we have had at public and religious gatherings….most of us do not.

So what will happen to these jokesters?

Let’s assume that they have no prior record. In fact, my understanding is that they were released after arraignment, which should indicate that, at least, they had no open warrants. They have now been arraigned, however, which means that the case is entered onto their criminal record (CORI). Whatever happens to the case will also be listed there.

I would be surprised if the defendants in this case realistically were facing jail time. In fact, they might even get through their case without an actual guilty finding if their attorney knows what he or she is doing. If it is possible to dispose of the case with a straight dismissal, then the defendants could move the court to seal their record right away.

For the original story upon which today’s blog was based, please go tohttp://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1061158112&srvc=rss

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