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 Burglary

A San Francisco burglar just received a 327-year sentence for wreaking havoc on the city’s elderly residents. In 2014, German Woods began his criminal spree of home invasions and robberies. The 60-year-old burglar targeted vulnerable senior citizens who lived alone. He would hide in the shadows, attacking as they entered their homes. Many of the seniors spoke very little English, or none at all. In 2016, Woods was convicted on multiple charges, including some for elder abuse.

Consecutive Sentencing vs. Concurrent Sentencing

In the case above, Woods was charged on 17 counts, including burglary, robbery, and elder abuse. Each of these counts carries its own sentence. When a judge decides that a convict must serve multiple count sentences consecutively, each sentence is added to the next. This is how Woods ended up with a 327-year sentence. If, on the other hand, a judge decides on a concurrent sentence, all of the separate sentences will be served simultaneously. A Boston defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with burglary.

Burglary Penalties in MA

In MA, burglary is loosely defined as unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a felony. Although theft is not necessary to justify a burglary charge, it is a common element of the crime. As with most crimes, the penalties for burglary depend largely on the underlying circumstances, prior criminal history, and the severity of the offense. For example, someone who enters a home for the sole purpose of trespassing will likely receive a lesser punishment than someone who enters a home, ties up the occupants, and steals valuable jewelry. If you are convicted of burglary in MA, you may face the following penalties:

  • Burglary: This crime is a felony offense and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. If it’s a first offense and no one was home at the time of the burglary, the sentence will generally be less severe. A second offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.
  • Armed burglary: Burglarizing an occupied home with a weapon in your possession carries a 15-year minimum sentence for a first offense.
  • Burglary with assault: Assault doesn’t require the use of a weapon. In fact, you don’t even have to physically harm someone to commit assault. Simply causing another to fear for their safety is enough to justify an assault charge. Burglary with assault carries a 10-year minimum sentence for a first offense.
  • Home invasion: This offense is similar to burglary in that it requires unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a felony. However, to be considered a home invasion, the crime had to occur at night, in a home, and the defendant had to be armed, know someone was at home, and use force or threats. The penalty for home invasion is a minimum sentence of 20 years, and up to life in prison.

Remember, you don’t have to kick down a door to commit burglary. Burglary can be the simple act of unlawfully entering a structure, even if that means opening an unlocked door and stepping inside. A MA criminal defense attorney can protect your rights if you’ve been charged with burglary or any other crime. Continue reading

Most people use the words theft, burglary, and robbery interchangeably. Although these three property crimes share some similarities, they are distinctly different. They all involve the act of taking or unlawfully entering another’s property, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.


Also known as larceny, theft involves the unauthorized taking of another’s property. In order to prove theft, the intent must be to permanently deprive another of his or her property. For example, if Sara takes a friend’s bicycle to have it fixed for her birthday and brings it back the next morning, that is not theft. If Sara takes a friend’s bicycle and hides it in her shed for months because she thinks the “friend” is having an affair with her husband, that is theft. Theft is the most basic, and usually the least serious, of these crimes. A MA defense lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with theft or any type of property crime.


Burglary involves unlawful entry into another’s structure. Although theft is often a component of burglary, nothing needs to be taken to justify a burglary charge. In fact, the intent to steal isn’t even necessary. What is necessary is the intent to commit a crime. If Bob breaks into an abandoned building because he wants to rescue a dog that was locked inside, that’s not burglary. If Bob breaks into an abandoned building to steal items that were left behind, he will likely be charged with burglary. But Bob can be charged with burglary even if he doesn’t steal anything. If he breaks into the abandoned building to commit a crime – to sell drugs, for example – a burglary charge may follow. Furthermore, breaking and entering isn’t even necessary. If Bob just turns the door handle and walks inside – with the intent to commit a crime – this act of unlawful entry may still result in a burglary charge.

Further, the intended crime doesn’t even need to be committed for a person to be charged with burglary. For example, if Bob broke into the building to sell drugs but never went through with the transaction, he can still be charged with burglary.


Robbery, on the other hand, does involve the intent to steal. It also involves physical force or the threat of harm. If someone grabs your purse out of a shopping cart and runs, this is theft, but it’s not robbery. If, however, the person knocks you down and grabs your purse from the shopping cart, this is robbery. A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with robbery or another type of property crime.

Penalties for Theft, Burglary and Robbery

In MA, you may face the following penalties if you are convicted of theft, burglary, or robbery:


  • Theft: If the stolen property is valued at $250 or less, the penalties are a fine of up to $300 and up to one year in jail. If the property is worth more than $250, the penalties are up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.


  • Burglary: As with most crimes, the unique circumstances of the crime and prior history will impact the penalties. Burglary is a felony and those convicted could see up to 20 years behind bars. For second and subsequent offenses, however, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of at least five years. If you committed armed robbery, the mandatory minimum is increased to 15 years.


  • Robbery: If you assault someone with the intention of stealing from him, you may be convicted of felony robbery. This is true even if you are not successful in your attempt to steal. This crime carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. If the robbery involves confining the victim or victims and threatening violence (for example, a bank robbery), you may face up to life in prison.

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Let’s start with how burglary, robbery, and theft are the same. They are all commonly associated with the unlawful taking of another’s property. Theft and robbery do, in fact, always involve this scenario, or an attempt at this scenario. However, burglary doesn’t necessarily involve theft, or even attempted theft. Burglary basically refers to the unlawful breaking and entering of another person’s property with the intent to commit a crime. If you’re facing any of the above charges, contact a Boston defense lawyer today.

  • Theft: Also known as larceny, and petty or grand theft, this is one of the most commonly committed criminal offenses in the United States. Theft is loosely defined as the taking of another’s property without consent. To constitute theft, the individual must have also intended to permanently deprive the owner of this possession. Therefore, a neighbor who “borrows” your lawnmower to mow his lawn while you’re at work, without your consent, is not likely to be charged with theft. You might be angry about this unapproved loan, but it’s not an act of theft.
  • Robbery: The simplest way to explain robbery is to describe it as “theft by force.” Robbery also involves the unlawful taking of another’s property without their consent, and with the intent to permanently deprive them of their possession. However, to be robbery, the property must be taken by force. Consider the following two scenarios, for example: If someone steals your purse from your car while you’re in the store, it’s an act of theft, not robbery. But if someone points a gun at you and demands you hand over your purse, it’s an act of robbery. Even if there is no physical contact and no weapon in sight, an act of theft can still be robbery if the there is a threat of physical violence. Therefore, although robbery is considered a violent crime, no injuries have to be suffered for a robbery conviction to occur.
  • Burglary: The least understood of the three, burglary involves entering a dwelling or structure with the intent to commit a crime in that dwelling or structure. You don’t even have to commit a crime to be convicted; the prosecution just has to show that you intended to commit a crime. Breaking into a structure with the intent to commit a crime is burglary. The structure doesn’t have to be a home, either; it can be a tent, or even a cave. You don’t need to break in using force to commit a burglary; crawling through an already open window can be burglary if all other factors are present. Furthermore, you don’t need to fully enter a structure to be convicted of burglary. If, for example, you reach your arm through an open window and steal a purse, you may be convicted of burglary.

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Yesterday, we discussed the recent shooting/stabbing case which unfolded in Brookline this week.

“Yes, you were kind of mean to the nice Police Chief about his statements and the arrests.”

Do you think so?

“Yes and you left off suggesting that the way the police handled this matter put me in some kind of danger”.

So I did. I tend to find that when the authorities decide to make “urgent” and rushed arrests…before even thinking the whole matter through… the general population is put at risk.

“How so?”

In a number of ways. For example, one thing I often find when law enforcement rushes through to make arrests is that they increase the risks of getting it wrong. This is a reality to which, when mentioned, officers generally scoff. You will notice that they also seldom reconsider and admit that they might have been wrong.

Not solving a violent case correctly, as opposed to “expediently” puts us all in danger as the true culprits are often left unprosecuted. This should be apparent on its face. The flip side of this danger is something fewer people end up having to worry about.

This would be the folks who end up facing charges for things like home invasion, assault and attempted murder who shouldn’t be.

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It is a Boston violent story that is continuing to unfold. The ongoing criminal investigation apparently continues although law enforcement is already pointing fingers.

Wednesday, three men were wounded in shootings and stabbings in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner. Brookline police say that the violence was related to a home invasion.

Brookline Police Chief Daniel C. O’Leary explained that the incident began around 11:50 a.m. Wednesday when officers responded to a report a disturbance on St. Paul Street. When officers arrived, they say they found signs of a struggle in the stairs and hallway leading up to an apartment. One man, who was found with several gunshot wounds to the leg as well as a stab wound, was found and taken out of the apartment.
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An attorney from Quincy, Massachusetts believes that one of his clients may have valuable information that could help FBI agents identify the men involved in an art heist that took place at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. The attorney George Burke, who formally worked as a district attorney for Norfolk County, has stated that his client believes he can identify one of the men pictured in surveillance footage released from the museum that depicts the heist taking place.

The client, who has respectfully requested to remain anonymous at this time, is an antiques dealer who recognized one of the individuals in the video as someone he knew who also worked with antiques at the time. He has stated that the individual in question had connections to a man by the name of Myles Connor—Connor, a man from Milton, Massachusetts, had been suspected of playing a role in the heist for many years. At the time of the incident however, Myles Connor was already in federal jail for other crimes. He has stated to authorities that while he had originally planned an art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1988, he was not the one who hired this crew in 1990. The client of George Burke who was able to identify the man in question contacted his attorney after surveillance footage had been released earlier in the week. The man asked for attorney Burke to release the information on his behalf, stating that he was “…deathly afraid of being killed.” Following this exchange, George Burke contacted the U.S. District to notify Carmen Ortiz of the development. Continue reading

An armed home invasion in Bedford, Massachusetts has left three individuals with various non-life threatening injuries. According to preliminary reports provided by the Bedford Police Department, three additional men broke into the home of the three victims at approximately 2:00 AM on Wednesday morning. The apartment where the altercation occurred is on the second floor of a shop located on North Road in Bedford.  The suspects fled from the scene before police arrived—and now Bedford Police are requesting help from anyone who has information pertaining to the invasion.

The men who were injured in the attack are all in their twenties and they all suffered non-life threatening injuries. After police responded to the home invasion, the three victims were transported to a local hospital where they were further interviewed for information that could be helpful in identifying their attackers. Bedford Police Chief Robert Bongiorno issued a statement to reporters saying that he believes that these attacks are not random. Based on evidence acquired from the initial investigation, Chief Robert Bongiorno surmises that the home invasion and subsequent assault are possibly drug related or could have been an attempted robbery. He believes that at least one of the three suspects that carried out the attacks knew one of the victims personally, perhaps through a work connection. Continue reading

A convenience-store burglar was out cold when cops found him in the drop ceiling of a North Andover mini-mart in the morning, police said.

Investigators say they’re trying to figure out how Justin Roeger, 26, of North Andover, ended up unconscious and among the rafters of the Richdale Convenience Store, where cops found him about 12:40 a.m. while responding to a burglar alarm.

The front door was smashed, and police and the store owner were inspecting the premises for damages when investigators “observed an unconscious male inside the drop ceiling.”

In a turn of events that harkens back to 19th century tales of dusty towns and quick draw artists, or perhaps the 21st century HBO series, Deadwood, my metrosexual sensibilities were shocked when I learned that cattle rustling is still alive and kicking. Two Mondays ago, on September 3, 2012, media outlets reported that most of the 49 cows that were stolen just two days earlier from a Dartmouth Farm were found, a few hundred miles away at an auction site in Pennsylvania. Dartmouth Police Sergeant Allen Shaw confirmed that 39 of the cattle were found in New Holland, Pennsylvania. The find came with the help of the cows’ owner, Ahmed Mahmoud, acting on a tip.

At the time of the discovery, police were still investigating but had only a few details about the theft and the location of the other cows. The animals were valued at approximately $50,000 and the thieves made away with them from the communal farm on Old Fall River Road late Saturday night, September 1, 2012.

After only three more days, reports began to surface that the remaining cows were successfully reclaimed. The final remnants of the stolen livestock had been stashed much closer to home, only about forty miles away in Medway, Massachusetts. At the time, suspects had been identified but no arrests or charges had been made.
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This morning of September 12, 2012, Boston Police have announced that they are on the lookout for a woman who robbed a Citizens Bank and appeared to be pregnant in a surveillance video. Police acknowledged that pregnancy may have purely been feigned as a disguise but are still alerting the public in the hopes of generating information about her whereabouts.

On this past Monday afternoon, September 10, 2012, a woman walked into a Citizens Bank and gave the teller a note saying that she had a gun and that she wanted all of the money in the drawer. The suspect then escaped the scene on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. The culprit was described as a white woman with black hair and standing approximately at five feet and four inches. At the time of the robbery, she was wearing sunglasses and a shirt that was cream in color with light blue pants.

Police are seeking out any help from the public in identifying the woman. Pictures are available at the links posted at the end of the blog entry. If you do have any information, you are urged to call the District A-1 detectives at 617.343.4470 or text the word TIP to Crime. You may also contact the Bank Robbery Task Force at 617-742-5533. Any information that leads to an arrest or indictment is eligible to be rewarded with $1,000.
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