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.

MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATURE PASSES RUSHED ANTI-UPSKIRTING BILL AND ADDS MORE CONFUSION TO STATE SEX CRIME LAWS

Have you ever heard the saying “Haste makes Waste”? The wisdom seems to be acknowledged in most circles.

Politics, at least the law enforcement kind, is not one of those circles.

Yesterday, we discussed the recent “up-skirting” controversy. It was one of those situations where there were cries of outrage from the general public when the SJC found that there was no currently created criminal offense which fit the act of up-skirting.

In flew the legislature at lightening speed to fix the situation. Last time we saw such cooperative legislators acting in lightening speed was when they gave a joint upheaving gag and delivered us an “anti-bullying” bill which still sits withering on the law enforcement vine, rotting under the sun as the true waste of time that it was.

Now, they have come to our rescue, seeking admiration and votes, to deliver another solution to gain our support.

I mean, fix the problem. Kinda – sorta.

The new law, which took effect immediately upon the governor’s signing, prohibits “the secret photographing, videotaping, or electronically surveiling of another person’s sexual or other intimate parts, whether under or around a person’s clothing or when a reasonable person would believe that the person’s intimate parts would not be visible to the public.” Someone found guilty of the crime would face up to 2 1/2 years in prison, and/or have to pay a fine of up to $5,000.

At least one audience member, Jessi Bertrand of Dedham, is happy about it. She told the local press that “I love the fact that they’re on our side and they are willing to protect us and they’ll do anything to make us feel safe.”

Happy happy joy joy joy.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Rushed Criminal Legislation, Sex Crimes And You. Part Two

So…it would appear that if you are video-taping or taking photographs around Massachusetts, you should be ok when taking footage of other people, so long as their “intimate” areas are not shown.

Yes, that would be their clothed “intimate” areas. Particularly if those shots are of kids…that would make the dastardly deed a felony.

Well, it shouldn’t be that difficult. Face shots are so much more interesting anyway, don’t you think?

Somebody had better tell the tourists, though, before the deluge starts when and if the weather gets warmer.

“Oh, come on, Sam. Are you kidding me? Clearly, that is not what is meant by the legislation. You are reading it too broadly. Taking the wording too literally. something.”

I wish I shared your optimism. But I have seen too many prosecutions which do not make any sense. To rely upon those who will enforce the law and their reading of things is not something I feel comfortable with.

“Why not?”

Because we seem to clap our little hands when someone does something that smells like a “tough on crime” stance. You make illegal. You prosecute. We love you.

Perhaps you can explain to me certain things when it comes to Massachusetts sex crimes the way the legislation involved reads.

Did you know that child pornography, that is, taking naked or sexually oriented pictures or videos of children under the age of 18 is illegal?”

“Yes, of course.”

On the other hand, you can have sexual relations with that person if they have attained the ripe old age of 16?

“16?”

Yeah. Just don’t take pictures or videos. By the way, prostitution is still a crime in the Commonwealth.

“Yes, of course.”

That would involve sex for money transactions.

“Naturally. That’s a sin.”

Disregarding your blow against Constitutional safeguards about church and state, did you know that if you are photographing or videotaping that sin it magically becomes legal?

“What do you mean?”

Well, pornography is legal, isn’t it? Isn’t that a sex/money transaction?

You see, we seem to be confused as to what we want to do when it comes to sex in the Commonwealth. We mix in religious beliefs, traditions that date back to Plymouth Rock and all that other neat stuff while we try to decide.

When things get to a fever pitch, our political leaders take to the platform and try to throw together the right hodge-podge that will sound “tough on crime” enough to make everyone calm and grateful we have such wonderful public servants.

Even if it really does not make any sense. I mean, who’s going to notice?

And when these laws come down, law enforcement enforces. Prosecutors prosecute.

After all, the law is the law.

“But a judge or jury will sort it all out, right?”

Maybe. Many months and thousands of dollars later. If you are lucky and have a good lawyer.

The problem is, people assume the law makes sense. They figure if they act reasonably, however they understand that word, then they will never fall into the jaws of the criminal justice system.

They are not right.

Such naivety has not exactly been outlawed yet…but, maybe, it might as well be.

To read the original stories, other than those listed yesterday, upon which this blog is based, please go to http://wwlp.com/2014/03/07/anti-upskirting-bill-signed-by-gov-patrick/

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