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 Cyber Crimes

Harassment, which occurs when a person intentionally annoys, threatens or provokes another person – or causes them to feel emotional distress – can take many forms. Workplace sexual harassment, for example, may include everything from making inappropriate jokes of a sexual nature in the presence of a co-worker to outright sexual assault. Whether or not harassment is a crime, however, depends on multiple factors. More serious types of harassment, such as stalking and hate crimes, are generally considered to be criminal in nature. But what about social media harassment?

Harassment doesn’t always occur in the physical realm. In fact, more and more often, people are using the anonymity of the internet to wreak havoc on their victims. From making online threats to cyberbullying, online harassment via email and social media networks has become disturbingly common. As with all types of harassment, however, the punishment – or lack thereof – depends more on the type of harassment than where the harassment takes place. For example, a death threat is a criminal form of harassment whether it’s made in person or on social media, whereas calling someone fat in person or online is cruel, but probably not criminal.

Misdemeanor or Felony?

Criminal harassment can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The distinction between the two is often based on whether the harassment was a first or subsequent offense. But the type of harassment is also a factor; a threat that makes a person fear for her safety may be a misdemeanor, but threatening to kill someone is more likely to be considered a felony. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been the victim of social media harassment.

In recent years, legislators have begun to respond to the impact that cyberbullying, including social media harassment, can have on children and young adults of all ages. Depression, suicide, and even school shootings have been some of the most tragic consequences. As such, there has been a nationwide trend toward increased accountability for all types of bullying, with a focus on “electronic harassment,” including social media bullying and threats.

Penalties for Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying constitutes harassment if it involves repeated conduct of an alarming nature that is directed at a specific victim. If the actions would cause a reasonable person to feel distressed, the harassment may lead to criminal penalties. In MA, harassment – online or otherwise – can carry a fine of up to $1,000 and up to two-and-a-half years in jail. Second and subsequent offenses can land the individual in prison for up to 10 years.

Cyberbullying is a serious issue. The lasting emotional pain and fear for one’s safety can be devastating. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if your child has been the victim of social media harassment or any type of cyberbullying.

Beyond fines and jail time, a person convicted of online harassment may be required to undergo psychological counseling. Further, he or she will likely be forbidden from having any type of contact with the victim. Violating such an order will almost certainly lead to additional charges.

Most states, including MA, have implemented anti-bullying policies in their schools. Students who harass another student in school or online may be subject to non-criminal penalties, including school suspension or a ban on school sports. And victims of cyberbullying may be able to seek compensation in civil court. Continue reading

Happy Monday!  Have a good weekend?   Some folks went out to enjoy the great (if a bit chilly) outdoors. Others stayed home getting cozy.

If you are of the second group, and if “coziness” for you includes a computer or some other social media vehicle…you had best be careful.

Regardless of what you may believe, your First Amendment rights are not quite absolute.

According to Boston.com, New Hampshire’s Janet Delfuoco, 50 years of age and hereinafter, the “Defendant”, is finding this out first-hand.

The hard way.

She has been charged with posting threatening statements on Facebook against two judges.

In fact, she has been indicted by a Rockingham County grand jury , on four charges of threatening a county circuit court judge and a superior court judge by posting statements threatening to harm them. She also is charged with a misdemeanor count of criminal threatening.

The Defendant, a nurse who has been in court dealing with custody and property matters involving her ex-husband, admitted today that she had posted a rant on Facebook and took it down. She says she is planning to be represented by a public defender.

She is scheduled to be arraigned February 2nd.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Free Speech And Free Attorneys

As a dear friend of mine would say, “Not so fast there, Buttercup”. The decision of whether to be represented by a public defender, unless you want to hire one on your own, is not totally up to you.

Continue reading

Most people have heard the term sexting by now. It’s a play-on-words, combining “sex” and “texting” to refer to sending and receiving lewd or suggestive images via smart phone or another electronic device. When sexting occurs between two consenting adults, no criminal offense is committed. However, when one or more of the parties involved is a minor, it’s an entirely different story. Criminal charges may even apply when both parties are under age.

Last week, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld a conviction for sexting-related child pornography charges. At first glance, that statement may not seem particularly unusual, but the details surrounding the case are anything but usual. At the time of the incident, the defendant was a minor. He also has Asperger’s syndrome, and the incriminating sext was a photo he sent of himself to an adult woman.

In 2013, the then 17-year-old boy texted a picture of his penis to a 22-year old woman. The photo was accompanied by explicit, and unsolicited, statements. The woman reported the texts and several harassing phone calls to the local Sheriff’s Office, and the boy was subsequently charged with distribution of child pornography, a felony. A MA defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with a crime.

It is illegal to deal in any depiction of a child engaged in conduct that is deemed sexually explicit. Washington state law defines sexually explicit conduct as anything that depicts “genitals or unclothed pubic or rectal areas of any minor, or the unclothed breast of a female minor, for the purpose of sexual stimulation of the viewer.”

“Subjecting of all Children to Felony Prosecution”

The state supreme court ruled that to “destroy the blight of child pornography everywhere, from production of the images to commercial gain” requires legislation that also pertains to minors who take explicit photos of themselves. Critics worry that, in the future, similar rulings will be extended to teens who consensually sext each other, and that this interpretation of the law will lead to the “subjecting of all children to felony prosecution.”

In fact, consensual teens have already been criminally prosecuted for their sexts. In 2015, a Colorado school found itself at the center of a major scandal. Dozens of students were sending lewd texts, many of which appeared to have been taken at the school. George Welsh, Superintendent of the scandalized Canon City Schools, was not surprised. “There isn’t a school in the United States probably at this point that hasn’t at some point dealt with the issue of sexting,” said Welsh. A Boston criminal defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with any type of crime.

The debate over criminalizing sexting focuses on the real purpose of child pornography laws, to protect children from unsavory adults. But if sexting between two consenting teens turns into a crime, what message are we sending? According to David Ball, law professor at Santa Clara University in CA, such rulings go against the basic tenets of criminal law. “You can’t be an accomplice to an act that has you as the victim,” said Ball, referring to two teens who were both charged with endangering a child. They also happened to be the victims in each others’ cases. Continue reading

Since the advent of social media, bullying and harassment are no longer limited to phone calls, emails, and face-to-face encounters. Now people can threaten and harass others from the comfort, and privacy, of their living room. We all know keyboard warriors who type cruel, vile things they would never say to someone’s face. But when do nasty remarks become illegal?

The Age of Cybercrime

Cybercrime, including cyberbullying and online threats, has taken center stage in recent years. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled to reverse the conviction of a man who posted lyrics about his fantasy to kill his wife on social media. Possibly in response to this decision, several states have adopted legislation to protect people from cybercrime. According to the Supreme Court, the intent is what matters. Therefore, threatening words may only be words if there is no actual intent to harm another person. Even cruel speech may be protected under the first amendment. Whether or not a threat was intentional, however, is often a matter of opinion. For this reason, it is important to obtain legal counsel if you have been charged with a cybercrime. Contact a Boston criminal defense lawyer today.

In the state of Massachusetts, a restraining order is also known as a 209A order. If a restraining order has been issued against you and you violate any of its terms and conditions, you have committed a criminal offense. If convicted, you could face up to two-and-a-half years in jail and a fine of up to five thousand dollars. The best advice? Don’t violate a 209A order. But if you’ve made a mistake, or an angry ex has embellished the truth in order to punish you, it’s in your best interest to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney without delay.  The law offices of Altman and Altman have been representing individuals charged with violating restraining orders for over 50 years, our experienced criminal defense team is just a phone call away. Our phones are answered 24/7.

If convicted of violating a 209A order, you may be required to complete a “batterer’s program” in addition to jail time and fines. Judges take violations very seriously, and failure to abide by the terms of a 209A order can result in devastating consequences. Four elements must exist in order to convict someone of violating a restraining order.

So, what constitutes a violation? Let’s take a look:

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.

Continue reading

A Stoughton gent, I think we will soon hear, had a wacky sense of humor Unfortunately, it was not shared by those around him. In fact, what he apparently found clever was something that most of us find rather disturbing.

As a result, Mr. Anthony Rae, 24 and hereinafter, the “Defendant”, is a current involuntary guest of the United States Government. He has been arrested for sending bizarre bomb threats to various locations. According to the United States Attorney’s office, these included various academic institutions.

The Defendant was not exactly the picture of stealth according to the prosecution. They say that he hacked into his mother’s email and sent some of them from there.

Continue reading

Welcome to 2014. A new IPhone is supposed to come out and the technological landscape seems endless. With endless horizons, however, come unknown dangers. Adults may not yet completely understand this technology. Our kids do, though.

They understand it just enough to get themselves into trouble.

“Innocent girl on Instagram flipping the bird.

The internet is still a relatively new and growing phenomenon. Adults struggle to keep up with the rapid, almost daily, changes it brings to our lives. Somehow, though, kids seem to be at the forefront of the new technology. And that can be a problem. A criminal-justice-type problem.

This Boston criminal lawyer has seen more than his fair share of cases evolve from juveniles making “stupid mistakes” online. Kids making mistakes in judgment is not new. However, law enforcement is not as forgiving as it once was.

The new most popular playground is the internet. Like many playgrounds, there are unseen dangers here. Kids, being kids, find all kinds of ways to get into danger in various play areas…and the internet is no difference.

Last week, Friday brought some disturbing news to the students at Cambridge’s Harvard University. If you are a regular reader to this blog, you probably Saw this news as Inevitable. While not technically a college crime, it is close enough.

You may Recognize the allegations in this story from our discussion of it back in August 2012. It was then that Harvard announced that a cheating scandal had taken place at the University.

According to Harvard, the cheating scandal took place in the spring, 2012, class, “Government 1310: Introduction to Congress.”

This was not a scandal which involved merely a couple of students. It was a rather widespread problem. Over 100 students type of widespread problem.

Now, the announcement has come from a top university official that more than half of the students investigated by a college board have been ordered to withdraw from the school.
In an e-mail to the Harvard community, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith wrote that more than half of the students who were brought before the university’s Administration Board this fall were required to withdraw from school for a period of time.

Of the remaining cases, approximately half the students received disciplinary probation, while the rest of the cases were dismissed.

Smith added that the first set of cases were decided in late September, and the remainder were resolved in December.
Continue reading

Contact Information