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.

A BOSTON CRIMINAL LAWYER DISCUSSES LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS DARTMOUTH STUDENT IN HIT AND RUN CASE

You may have already heard about the legal trouble 18-year-old Eric Megna (hereinafter, the “Defendant”), of Middleborough is in.

He has now been arraigned in connection with a hit and run motor vehicle accident which took the life of 58-year-old Michael Dutra back in October.

The accident was enough to change the Defendant’s young life. The allegations which followed the accident make the situation far worse. He is accused of leaving the scene and fabricating explanations for the damage found in his SUV when it was being fixed.

The Defendant is said to have created an “elaborate” plan in order to claim that the damage on his vehicle was actually caused by a deer. However, the Commonwealth says that its experts indicate that there is no way that a deer could have caused the damage. They say that the damage is consistent with hitting a bicyclist, which Mr. Dutra, the deceased, was.

Making the arraignment in Wareham District Court even worse was something that should not be attributed to the Defendant. While arguing bail, his attorney, in trying to re-assure the court that his client would return to court, accidently calling the Defendant by the deceased’s name. Announcing that Michael. Dutra would be returning to court added insult to injury and the emotional response from Dutra’s family caused a break in the proceedings.

The bail argument did not seem to profit from the mistake as the judge ended up siding with the Commonwealth in terms of bail and set the bail at $10,000.

The Defendant made bail and left the courthouse amid a swarm of reporters.

ATTORNEY SAM’S TAKE ON WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

As any regular reader of this blog can tell you, we are often discussing things that defendants, or soon-to-be defendants, do to take a serious problem and turn it into a devastating disaster.

If the Commonwealth’s theory, and that is all it is at this point, is correct, then the Defendant has done just that.

If, for the sake of argument, the Defendant did all that they say, then he took a situation where he may well have not been charged criminally at all or, if he had, face a misdemeanor charge. Instead, he could be facing a number of felony charges, not the least of which could be Intimidation of a Witness. We also do not know what theory of vehicular homicide the Commonwealth will be alleging.

“Why not, Sam? I mean, he has already been arraigned.”

The Defendant has been arraigned on a criminal complaint in district court. You may be sure that the Commonwealth is, at the very least, considering indicting the matter and bringing it up to superior court. At that point, there may be new charges added and there will be another arraignment…which could mean another bail hearing.

“Why another bail hearing?”

Because the Commonwealth may well argue that, now that he is indicted and facing a great deal more potential prison time, he has even more incentive to flee. This is when they will be reminding the court that the Defendant actually did flee initially (under their theory) and even came up with a lie to get out of it.

“So, is it a lost cause for the Defendant?”

Never. Remember that there does not appear to be any eyewitness that puts him at the scene of the accident. Further, there is information that may well put him and his vehicle somewhere else. Finally, we do not know who the Commonwealth’s experts are nor how good they are.

After all, what if the Commonwealth’s theory is wrong and the Defendant never was at the accident, never fled and actually hit a deer…or something other than the deceased?

“What does the Defendant need to do?”

He needs to make sure that he is represented by someone in command of the case and with a great deal of experience in these matters. Although I can understand why he did it, I was not thrilled that his present attorney has been sending out email press releases about the case. One of the most important things the Defendant needs is for the public attention on the case to die down. Otherwise, the Commonwealth will be at its most aggressive in the case, which is not in the Defendant’s best interest.

In other words, regardless of what happened in the past, they cannot be working to make matters worse…or even as bad…as they are now.

For the original story upon which today’s blog is based, please go to http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/11/20/umass-dartmouth-student-charged-fatal-hit-and-run-middleboro/Ph4rqoUnc2c9muDLzMSU1H/story.html and http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/11/teen_who_allegedly_lied_about_hitting_deer_after_fatal_hit_run

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