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.

“WHY AM I FACING FEDERAL CRIMINAL CHARGES INSTEAD OF BEING SIMPLY CHARGED WITH MASSACHUSETTS DISORDERLY CONDUCT?”

First of all, welcome to the new Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog. As time moves forward you will see a return to daily posting as well as other changes hopefully later this week. Consider it Attorney Sam’s Take Volume II

In the meantime, we turn to the skies.

We have discussed many times the vague and over-extending of the Massachusetts misdemeanor known as “disorderly conduct”. Basically, if you’re conduct is considered offensive to a police officer, you can be charged. Generally, it is not the heaviest crime in the world…just enough to go on your record, cost you thousands of dollars and greatly effect your future for the negative. That, of course, is regardless of how the case comes out.

Unless you are a celebrity or well-known, the. case is not likely to get too much media attention.

All that can change, though, depending on the location of your disturbing the proverbial peace. For example, if you become a “problem” on federal property, you are likely to find yourself facing federal prosecution.

In case you had any doubt, commercial airlines are considered federal property for this purpose. Needless to say, there is no sense of humor thereon when dealing with disturbances on airplanes. That starts with the flight crew and goes right through to the media.

Just recently, there have been a number of such federal criminal cases reported in the media.

Last month, there were two such incidents within the same week which were very similar. They were clashes between passengers over another the commercial trend of shrinking legroom. In both cases, the plane actually had to be diverted from it’s intended destination.

It was a Miami-to-Paris American Airlines flight which landed in Boston, not a scheduled stop. The stop was caused because of an incident in which in-flight air marshals broke their cover to restrain a man who had fought with another passenger trying to recline in front of him According to law enforcement, the air marshals acted after the man allegedly grabbed the arm of a flight attendant. The flight continued thereafter and Edmond Alexandre, 61, of Paris, faces federal criminal charges.

Mr. Alexandre’s incident came just days after another gent, this time on an United Airlines flight got into his own brand of mid-flight trouble. He used a product called a “Knee Defender” to prevent the seat in front of him from reclining. The woman in front of him began arguing with him about the situation and then reportedly threw a cup of water in his face.

The argument prompted the Newark, New Jersey-to-Denver flight to be diverted to Chicago. When the plane continued its flight to Denver, the pair were not allowed to be on board.

Of course, in-flight drama is not limited to American flights. During a recent Toronto-to-Cuba Sunwing Airlines flight, two ladies drew attention to themselves leading to an escort back to Canada by two fighter jets.

The ladies are said to have drank “a significant quantity of their duty free alcohol purchase in the lavatory and lit a cigarette, triggering the smoke detector alarm,” according an airline statement. After that misadventure, the two ladies apparently began fighting each other and made a threat against the aircraft, “which was considered non-credible given their condition,” said Janine Chapman, a spokeswoman for the airline.
Regardless of the credibility two fighter jets were sent out and the women were taken into custody in Toronto.

Some folks blame the shrinking space and more packing in of passengers for these incidents.

Don’t expect the halls of criminal justice to look at it that way. Discomfort or aggravating circumstances are not legal defenses.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Federal Cases Not Being So Funny

Many of these stories are treated as humorous anecdotes for earth-bound places of business. They turn out to be not so funny when they make the proverbial “federal case” out of it.

There is nothing funny about facing criminal charges in federal court.

Especially in the years since September 11, 2001, law enforcement, the courts and flight crews have no sense of humor when it comes to aircraft safety. Too much can go very, very wrong.

While behaving in a disorderly way in regular environments around the Commonwealth, you face a misdemeanor charge. Often, if you have good counsel, you have a decent chance of getting rid of it at a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing.

“So, what’s the message here, Sam? Just to be careful where you act out?”

In a way. Also, if you are facing criminal charges in any court, you are best off being represented by experienced counsel be it for a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing, Massachusetts State Court or Federal District Court.

For the original stories upon which this blog is based, please go to https://abcnews.go.com/Travel/legroom-wars-plane-diverted-reclining-seat-fight/story?id=25168675 , http://www.cnbc.com/id/101947118 and http://abcnews.go.com/International/airline-drunk-women-fight-fighter-jets-send-plane/story?id=25154188

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