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.

Articles Posted in Assault and Battery

Assault, by itself, is a crime. But the penalties for that crime are largely dependent on the nature of the assault. You may have heard of the terms simple assault, aggravated assault, and assault & battery. What do these terms mean and what are the implications for someone facing these charges?

Simple Assault

The act of assault is committed if a person attempts to use force against another person, or even if he or she simply demonstrates an intention to use force against another. Basically, you can assault someone without ever physically touching that person, if he or she feared immediate physical harm. You can even be charged with assault if the person did not know about the intended assault. What does that mean? Well, consider the following example. If you attempt to punch someone in the back but the person bends down and you miss, you can be charged with assault even if he or she wasn’t aware of the incoming punch. If there was a  threat of harm, or the intention to harm, you may find yourself on the receiving end of an assault charge.

Assault & Battery

Although this act sounds significantly worse than “simple assault”, you can still be charged with assault & battery even if no injuries were suffered. As long as there is physical contact, without the victim’s consent, you may have committed assault & battery. In order for “battery” to be present the touching must have been intentional, harmful or offensive, and without the victim’s consent. Interestingly, intent to harm is not a prerequisite of battery charges, however, an intent to make bodily contact is. A skilled Boston assault & battery lawyer is your best defense against these very serious charges.

Aggravated Assault

When “aggravating” factors are present during an assault on a victim, the charge may be raised to aggravated assault. What is an aggravating circumstance? Basically, if a weapon is used, if the victim is a law enforcement officer, or if the victim suffered serious injuries, you will likely be charged with aggravated assault. You can also face aggravated assault charges if the injuries suffered were not serious, but the intent to cause serious injury can be shown. If you are facing aggravated assault charges, it is imperative that you seek the counsel of an experienced MA aggravated assault lawyer immediately.

Penalties for Different Types of Assault

Simple assault and assault & battery are generally considered to be misdemeanor offenses. If, however, you are facing the more serious charge of aggravated assault, you may be looking at felony charges.

  • Assault and assault & battery are both punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and up to two-and-a-half years in jail.
  • Assault that causes bodily injury to a child is punishable by up to five years in prison. If the bodily injury is substantial, the punishment can be up to 15 years in prison.
  • Committing assault & battery against a firefighter or a police officer is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
  • An act of assault with the intent to murder, disfigure, or commit a felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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Court records are public domain. Essentially that means that anyone with a few bucks to spend can access your criminal record, arrests, and even your mug shot. An expungement is a process in Massachusetts whereby these records are sealed. Although criminal records are not erased, they become inaccessible to the public, which includes potential employers and landlords. Read on for more information about expungements, if you are eligible to have a prior conviction or arrest expunged, and how to accomplish this liberating task.

If you were arrested but found not guilty, an expungement is a relatively easy process. You can file for an expungement, which will prevent the record of your arrest from being viewed by the public. It will also prevent the record from showing up in an employment or housing background check. If you were convicted, however, things get a bit more complicated. If you have been charged with a crime, contact a MA defense attorney today.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony

If the conviction was for a misdemeanor offense, you can file for an expungement once five years have passed without another conviction. Basically, your record has to remain spotless. If you were convicted of a felony, however, the “spotless record” period increases to 10 years. And much is dependent on the underlying offense. If you were convicted of an OUI, the likelihood of an expungement is good. If it was a sexual offense, you must wait at least 15 years and the process becomes extremely complex. If you are considering getting a felony offense expunged from your record, contact a Boston criminal defense lawyer today.

The Process

Clearing your record of prior arrests and convictions can have an immensely positive impact on your life. No longer will you be filled with anxiety every time you apply for a job, housing, or even a loan. A positive outcome calls for experienced legal counsel. In theory, you can apply for an expungement on your own, but it is highly inadvisable. A minor error can be the difference between a clean record and a mistake that continues to haunt you for years.

Step one is to file a “Petition to Seal” with the District Court from which the case originated. This can include documents that support your petition, including disadvantages arising from public access to your record, evidence of rehabilitation, and other relevant evidence and circumstances. The next steps include:

  • Preliminary review of your petition: Once filed, the District Court judge will begin to review your petition. If you meet the preliminary requirements for expungement, you will be notified of a court hearing date. If you do not meet the preliminary requirements, you will be notified in writing.
  • Hearing: The purpose of the hearing is to give you an opportunity to tell the court why your record should be expunged. If you hire an attorney, in addition to filing all paperwork above, he or she can speak on your behalf at the hearing.
  • Decision: At the conclusion of your hearing, you will either be given an immediate decision or the judge will take the case under advisement. If the latter, you will be notified by mail of the final decision.
  • Appeals: If the initial decision is not favorable, you can appeal with the MA Appeals Court.

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Hello there. Attorney Sam Goldberg here with a question. What do the new motion picture “Patriots Day”, the issue of bullying and this blog have in common?

The answer is a certain hip hop artist I have mentioned from time to time by the name of Token. Token has a very small part in the movie…and a non-musical one at that. However, he has also recently released his latest music video, “Exception”, which can be found at various places.

Without going through the entire story line and it tragic ending, suffice to say that the video takes the march against bullying from a different perspective. Sure, the song is anti-bullying. But, then again, most people are.

This song, though, focuses it’s attention on the witnesses to events of bullying. In fact, as in various interviews, 18-year-old Token admits that he, himself, has been guilty of sitting back and simply watching such events in silence. He further explains that the reason for the title “Exception” refers to a line in the song indicating that the high school in the video is a typical suburban location where most people figure is an exception to the bullying issue…so nobody has to worry about it.

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Hello again.

First things first.

We recently had a presidential election. The country was pretty divided in that one. As a result, some folks were going to be left angry no matter who won.

Donald Trump won. Some people are very angry.

That’s fine. Dissent and free speech are what this country is all about.

To an extent.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Speech, Hate, Assault and Battery

We have discussed the issues of “hate crimes” before. While a crime like assault and battery is assault and battery, regardless of the purported reason, such actions under certain circumstances are considered more heinous and so are given special attention. This would include cases of domestic violence and “hate crimes”.

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Keeping the peace requires significant “behind the scenes” work in the form of rules, laws, law enforcement, and punishment. Massachusetts Laws establish what we are allowed to do within our state, and any type of behavior that goes against these laws may be punishable. Most states define disorderly conduct as any behavior that is likely to cause alarm, annoyance, or anger to other people, such as fighting or brawling, and public urination.  If you engage in these types of activities, you may find yourself behind bars.  Every state has different disorderly conduct laws. In Massachusetts, disorderly conduct carries fines of up to $150. But second and subsequent convictions can mean time behind bars with up to six months of jail time and a fine of up to $200. Disorderly conduct is typically a misdemeanor offense, but it can be a felony if the circumstances are especially damaging. For example, calling a school to falsely report a bomb may be a felony offense. If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, contact a Boston defense lawyer today.

What is taken into consideration when determining if an individual has engaged in disorderly conduct? The circumstances of the situation are extremely important; a disorderly behavior may not be considered disorderly if it takes place at another time or in a different location. For instance, shouting in a residential area late at night can be disorderly conduct, but shouting in the same spot at noon the next day may not be. In addition, the prosecution does not need to show that someone was alarmed or angered by the defendant’s actions. They simply has to show that the action would have alarmed a reasonable person.

Location, Location, Location

Disorderly conduct is not something that you do in the privacy of your own home; it takes place in a public location. However, the term “public” doesn’t only refer to large public spaces with lots of people. A stall in a public bathroom and private buildings being used for public rental are both “public” spaces. Any conduct that disturbs even one other person in a public space may be classified as disorderly conduct.

Types of Disorderly Conduct

  • Fighting: Depending on the circumstances surrounding the encounter, fighting can be anything from disorderly conduct to assault and battery. A simple bar fight that breaks out during a drunken argument between two individuals is typically disorderly conduct. These types of encounters are generally not premeditated, are resolved with relative ease, and don’t result in life-threatening injuries.
  • Protests and Disturbing an Assembly: Peaceful protests are our right as Americans. However, disruptive or violent protests are not. And disruptive doesn’t have to involve fighting and starting fires; purposely blocking traffic is an example of a non-violent, disruptive protest that could result in a disorderly conduct charge. “Disturbing an Assembly” refers to engaging in disruptive behavior at religious ceremonies, public rallies or protests, or city council meetings.
  • Public Misconduct: What is acceptable at home isn’t always acceptable in public. Public intoxication, for example, isn’t illegal in the privacy of your home. However, if you leave home and urinate on a neighbor’s car, you may be charged with disorderly conduct.
  • Disorderly conduct and law enforcement: Police encounters can sometimes lead to disorderly conduct charges. If, for example, you begin verbally threatening a police officer, or you use any type of physical contact, a disorderly conduct charge may follow.

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A criminal record is an account of any criminal convictions and charges that you may have, past and present. Having a criminal record can have a severely negative impact on all aspects of your life, from finding a job to driving a car. If you are concerned about how your criminal record may impact your life, contact a Boston defense attorney today.

Having a criminal past can have negative consequences in many areas of your life. Below are some of the most common concerns expressed by individuals with criminal records.


Unfortunately, finishing your sentence and paying your debt to society doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to get a job once you regain your freedom. Many occupations require extensive background checks for employment, such as those that involve direct contact with children, law enforcement jobs, and caring for elderly patients or individuals with disabilities. And even if extensive background checks are not necessary, most employers require job applicants to complete a formal application, which often asks if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime.

Background checks can uncover all kinds of information about criminal history, including past convictions and plea bargains. If, however, information has been erased from a criminal record, the employer will not be entitled to that information. For example, if the applicant’s record was expunged or dismissed, or if the offense occurred when the applicant was a minor, this information will not show up in a background check for employment.

Having a criminal record doesn’t mean you can’t get a job, but you may have a tough road ahead. Much of the outcome will depend on the details of your situation. When were you convicted? Have you gone through any type of rehabilitation program? What crime were you convicted of, and how does it relate to the job for which you are applying? For example, a DUI conviction ten years ago will probably have little to no effect on your ability to get hired as a grocery store clerk. But a conviction of armed robbery five years ago will likely impact your ability to get hired as an aide in a nursing home. If you are concerned about your ability to find a job following a criminal conviction. Continue reading

Any type of Massachusetts warrant is a serious issue and needs dealt with immediately. However, not all warrants are the same. A bench warrant, for example, can be issued for something as simple as missing jury duty, whereas an arrest warrant is only issued in a criminal case.

Arrest Warrants

When a judge believes there is probable cause that you have committed a crime, he or she will likely issue an arrest warrant. This doesn’t mean you have been convicted of a crime, only that you are being charged. Facts obtained during a police investigation or witness testimony may convince a judge that issuing an arrest warrant is the next step in the process.


On Monday, we began discussing the matter in which was young girl was shot last weekend. The father, who police believe was the attended victim, has been unable or unwilling to cooperate with law enforcement about the shooting.

Witnesses and community leaders have been voicing outrage over the second shooting to wound a young girl in Roxbury in less than a week — this time when her allegedly gang-member father (hereinafter, the “Father”) was targeted, according to police.

Saturday afternoon’s brazen gunplay on Winslow Street left a 2-year-old with injuries to her leg and hand. On Oct. 9, a 9-year-old girl was shot and critically injured at a family get-together.

“We’ve had a real bad week. Anyone who has ever loved a child — they’re heartbroken,” said Emmett Folgert of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, which works to divert kids from gang life.

According to the Boston Herald ), Mayor Martin J. Walsh has commented, “This particular case, [Father] is not willing to step up … That’s a coward right there. And it bothers me. And certainly, we’re trying to find out who did this shooting … It was a gang-involved shooting, and they clearly were going after this young girl’s father and he’s clearly not talking to the police about it. I just can’t fathom that.”

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There still remains a bit of confusion as to what law enforcement and others need in order to legitimately (under the law) jump to conclusions about…well…you.

Folks seem to know that, in order to convict a criminal defendant, the government must prove that individual guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We have discussed whether or not that is what really happens in the reality of the courts…but that is not the issue for today.

Today, I think we need to address various matters in which proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not necessary to ruin your life.  Sometimes mere suspicion is enough.

For example, let’s turn to a very recent story in the news. The Boston Herald  tells us that various black community leaders are calling on the father of a 2-year-old girl who was shot as she sat in the back seat of his car in Roxbury yesterday to cooperate with investigators who are trying to track down the shooter.

These calls are predicated on the belief that the man is a “known gang kid”.

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No one seems to know why this happens sometimes. In some cases, one can make out a motive…I’ve seen that a lot. However, sometimes, we are treated to no reason at all.

I am talking about complainants who admittedly lie about their allegations. Generally, however, even when that complainant’s lack of credibility is clear to everyone in the room, the prosecution seems to turn a  blind eye to that unfortunate fact. . I’ve seen this as well.  Sometimes, even when said complainant actually recants.

Even with police witnesses, as we have discussed.

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