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.

MASSACHUSETS HALLOWEEN BRINGS ARRESTS FOR DRUG CRIMES AND ASSAULT AND BATTERY WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON

I suppose it is fitting that we discuss the night for tricking and treating right after Election Day.

So how was your Halloween weekend? Still have your liberty, if not your dental health?

Some people had little trouble with the law over the weekend. Interestingly, though, these folks were not out on the street looking for trouble. Sometimes, though, trouble find you.

You may think I am referring to the celebrated drug sweep by the Boston Police Department. As they proudly posted in their blog, “Operation Halloween” proved a great success. It netted 14 arrests.

In keeping with “coordinated and strategic initiatives to advance public safety”, officers launched ‘Operation Halloween’ with the intent of interrupting the supply and demand of illegal drug trade. The investigation included several undercover officer “buy and bust” operations and culminated in a warrant sweep targeting 14 individuals for possession of drugs and outstanding warrants.

As any regular reader of this blog would expect…those allegedly in possession of illegal drugs were also charged with having the intent to distribute.

Of course, those allegedly in the drug trade were not the only ones who suddenly found themselves facing criminal charges. Take Carl Holmberg, for example.

Mr. Holmberg, 44 is, or has been, a captain of the Revere Fire Department. Now, he is the “Defendant”; he, too, was arrested over the weekend. He was initially charged with three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and one count of assault and battery on a child.

The Defendant apparently told police he was trick-or-treating with his wife and two children when he saw the three boys causing a disturbance. When he confronted them, they became aggressive and he became afraid for his safety. He told police he didn’t strike anyone with the golf club, which he carried for protection.

His lawyer explained that he acted in self-defense, looking to protect his family.

Of course, the golf club is a problem. I remind you that self-defense demands that you meet the threat with the equal level of force. But I digress.

According to some witnesses, there were kids causeing a ruckus in the neighborhood. When the the Defendant stepped in to help, several teenagers, as many as 20, attacked him.

One of these “teens” was 11 years old.

The Defendant’s wife said that the Defendant was just defending himself against some rowdy trick-or-treaters.

“It was chaos and mayhem. I saw my husband fall, they were jumping on him I called at 7:43 to the Revere police department,” she said. “When they came after them, whatever happened… I was too busy screaming, begging the police to get here.”

The family of one complainant is outraged. The stepfather said that while the injuries weren’t severe, he doesn’t believe the Holmbergs’ story.

“There was an 11-year-old, a 14-year-old, 13-year-old, a few girls. They were just trick or treating. Two went to the hospital… He’s doing alright everybody’s doing alright, they fine, we’re going to court tomorrow, that’s it.”

On Monday morning, the matter came for arraignment in Chelsea District Court. At the arraignment, prosecutors claimed that the Defendant hit an 11-year-old boy and the boy’s two 14-year-old friends in the melee. They further said that when police arrived, they found the Defendant using a golf club to restrain one of the teenagers.

By the way, such restraint in itself can amount to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. But I digress again.

The three youths told officerbother Defendant yelled at them for cutting through yards. They said they ran away, but that he confronted them a second time.

One 14-year-old said heattacked him and threw him to the ground. The 11-year-old said he was struck in the back of the head. The third boy said the Defendant hit him in the arm and leg.

When police spoke with the Defendant, they said they detected the smell of alcohol and saw that his eyes were glassy.

The Defendant, who has 15 years of service with the fire departmen, has been suspended with pay pending a disciplinary hearing.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Unexpected Police Attention

Most of us cannot know when the criminal justice system is about to come barreling into our lives.

The gentlemen arrested in the drug sweep, one would assume, had reason to know that there was always a possibility that they would be in touch with law enforcement at some point. One would expect that they gave some thought to legal representation.

The Defendant, one can also assume, never expected to be in the predicament in which he finds himself. Whatever the actual factual scenario, we do know that there was some kind of an altercation and folks often act rashly and foolishly in such situations…particularly when they believe their family is in danger.

By the way, given the history of the area (which includes reports of dangerous dogs walking the streets), and the instant events, they could well have been.
But, the fact remains that one never knows when that brief instant it takes to either make a decision or act instinctively will land one in the criminal justice system in the seat of the accused. Sometimes, it does not even take that moment. Sometimes, someone has simply made up a story for whatever reason.

This is why you need to keep in mind that this type of nightmare is something that is waiting at the proverbial door with its jaws open wide and dripping with saliva for the sweet taste of “justice”. It is why you should consciously decide what you will do should it happen. My blogs have made certain suggestions (such as act courteously, don’t try to “play” with the nice officers and be ready to contact your experienced criminal defense attorney).

There are some times, though, you want to be especially cautious because law enforcement is on guard and looking extra-carefully. Often with good reason. The holiday season has many such days. Halloween is only one of them.

Of course, the Defendant is not the only law enforcement type who is finding himself dealing with the criminal justice system in a way he never expected this week.

Stay tuned for my next posting.

For the original stories upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.whdh.com/story/27183678/revere-fire-captain-arrested-for-assaulting-child-on-halloween , https://www.facebook.com/BostonPoliceDepartment/posts/10151168179352685 and http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/11/03/revere-firefighter-arraigned-assault-charges-halloween-altercation/9Kz8x0NSjrwpWKX5UEcc7N/story.html

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