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.

MALDEN MAN FACES CHARGES FOR ASSAULTING A BUS DRIVER AND CAUSING PROPERTY DAMAGE

Douglas Bergeron, 32, is from Malden and is hereinafter referred to as the “Defendant”. His Massachusetts criminal justice troubles have already gone from bad to worse.

First came an unfortunate bus ride he allegedly took on the night of October 13th. According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant did not have enough money on his Charlie Card. Whatever the reason, the Defendant is said to have assaulted the MBTA bus driver. The bus, in motion, then crashed into a legally parked car near 946 Broadway Street.

The chain reaction involved two other vehicles according to authorities.

An arrest warrant was issued to bring the Defendant into custody and he was arrested in Malden.

It turns out, though, that the Defendant has been also charged with additional crimes.

Accompanied by Malden’s Marie Breault, the Commonwealth claims that the Defendant was taken into custody while breaking into a home on Elwell Street. Both were charged with breaking and entering in the daytime.

The Defendant was also charged with Massachusetts Assault and Battery for the incident involving the bus driver and the resulting crash(es). Those charges are said to be assault and battery on a public employee as well as interfering with public transportation.

The damage to the various vehicles may well bring additional charges and, very likely, civil lawsuits.

Attorney Sam’s Take On When Temper Tantrums Result In Criminal Charges

Well, the Defendant certainly did not do himself any favors being caught where and when he was caught. Certainly could not have helped any bail argument.

The main thing to recognize in this posting is a reminder about tempers. We all have them. We all get angry. We all can also get arrested.

Now, of course, what the actual truth behind the story is remains to be seen. However, assuming for the sake of argument the Defendant and the bus driver got into an altercation which resulted in the motor vehicle accident, there are some important lessons to be observed which this Boston criminal lawyer is more than happy to point out. Heck, it’s my job.

Many people still misunderstand the idea of “self defense”.

“Sam, what could be clearer? A guy punches you in the mouth, you get to hit him back! Right?”

Not really. There are legal and reality-based reason why that is not so.

First of all, before one engages in striking back violently, one has a responsibility to get out of harm’s way. In other words, you need to try to flee. Especially when you are not in your home. Especially when you are somewhere where your assailant is legally charged with enforcing the rules as in this case.

You will notice that the term is not “self-offense“. The idea is that, when self-defense is appropriate, it is merely to prevent harm from coming to you (or someone else). Technically, smashing your assailant in the face because he hit you is called good old Massachusetts “assault and battery”.

In this case, we do not know who resorted to violence first. The Commonwealth contends that the altercation began because the Defendant was sort on funds. If the driver’s reaction to that was rude or offensive, then the Defendant could have reported him. However, insulting language is not a legal defense to assault and battery.

You can get angry…but you cannot get violent.

Assuming the property damage can be shown to be caused by the altercation, then the participants of the altercation are liable. However, if the Defendant is found to be guilty of assault and battery and accompanying charges, then he is likely to be found responsible, both criminally and civilly, for the damage.

Now, putting legal concepts aside for the moment, let’s look at the reality of the situation. The Commonwealth has already decided who was to blame for the altercation. In fact, there was a warrant out for the Defendant’s arrest shortly after the driver gave his version of what happened. It really should come as no surprise, of course. The driver is supposed to be in charge of the bus and so he attributed a certain amount of instant credibility. Therefore, when in a situation where your opponent is the person “in charge”, then engaging in the conflict is done at your own risk.

You may leave and present a complaint…but self-help is not recognized as a legal solution in the Commonwealth.

I should point out that I am unaware of whether there were independent witnesses or videotapes which helped the Commonwealth come to its assessment of the situation. What I do believe is that, absent anything like that, the result is likely to have been the same in terms of who got charged.

So…is it all over for the Defendant?

Let’s see if he engages the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. He will need one!

Have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

To read the original stories upon this blog is based, please go http://www.wcvb.com/news/local/metro/warrant-issued-in-mbta-driver-assault-bus-crash-in-chelsea/-/11971628/22503374/-/3au4am/-/index.html , http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/23750329/2013/10/21/police-man-arrested-in-connection-with-mbta-bus-assault#ixzz2iYjxFPdh and http://www.today.com/id/53318400/ns/local_news-boston_ma/#.UmfpSOCQkWQ

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