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.

TWELVE YEAR OLD WITH KIDNAPPING STORY COULD HAVE FACED FELONY CHARGES IN MASSACHUSETS

Maybe it’s because it is the “Live Free Or Die” state. Perhaps “living free” is interpreted as “lying about being free” in New Hampshire.

Maybe. But not here though.

Here it could have been a felony.

According to authorities in Nashua, New Hampshire, a twelve-year-old boy was worried because he thought he might get into trouble for being late.

That part’s ok. It’s his solution which could have been the problem in the Commonwealth.

He lied.

He lied to law enforcement.

He fabricated a story that someone had tried to kidnap him.

More specifically, he told the police that on May 22nd, a man in his mid-to-late 30’s wearing sunglasses ripped jeans and a gray sweatshirt with a hoodie over his head grabbed his wrist and tried to take him to an unknown location. The boy said that he was able to break free and flag down a passer-by.

In response, the police investigated the area, asked the public for assistance and brought in detectives from the department’s special investigations division. Law enforcement worked several days on the case canvassing the area, interviewing residents and reviewing video surveillance cameras.

Then, under circumstances not publically revealed, the boy admitted that he had lied and why.

While apparently being counseled, he will not be facing criminal charges.

Don’t get me wrong…people, particularly kids…make mistakes.

Such mistakes, while technically criminal, should really be treated as the immature mistakes that they are. Maybe put a scare into the kid so that it does not happen again.

On the other hand, there is a school of thought that would argue, at least in the Commonwealth, that the lad wasted police time and public money, not to mention the bothering of civilians in a hoax. Die-hard law and order zealots might even go so far as to argue that this kid believes that his needs are paramount as compared to those of the community and so making up such a lie and watching it play out just to not get into trouble is a very dangerous sign. “After all”, they might argue, “This was not just a vague lie! Look at the detail in this delinquent’s story! What if he faced getting into more serious trouble? What might he do then? Perjure himself? Steal something? Kill somebody?”

You would be surprised at how many times I have lived through sermons from prosecutors pontificating in a petty matter, “…what if he goes out and kills somebody?”

The fear, of course, is that by not seeming “tough on crime” enough, in the 2% chance that the thus-far nonviolent offender suddenly becomes a brazen killer under the full moon, that prosecutor (and his boss) will be on the proverbial chopping block the next day for giving the defendant the break.

Yup, if a prosecutor/police officer wanted to drag the kid through the system in Massachusetts, a number of potential charges, including the felony charge of Intimidation Of A Witness stands ready.

I have seen and handled many such cases here in the Commonwealth. Rest assured, there are those with the necessary compassion to shy away from bringing the criminal charges which could ruin such a defendant’s life.

But it nowhere near a “no brainer”. You cannot assume such compassion or common sense.

It is necessary for the parents to treat the situation very seriously. Start counseling if possible. Be proactive and have an experienced attorney lead the approach to assure law enforcement that it is more appropriate to not to bring criminal charges.

Scratch the surface in this New Hampshire matter and you will likely find that that was exactly what was done behind the scenes in this case.

To view the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/06/01/12-year-old-worried-about-being-late-lies-about-kidnapping/

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