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

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.

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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.

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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.
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The occasions in which I find myself looking up at the sky and shouting, “Really? Again? Is anybody ever going to start learning?”

But, then I remember that they are kids and, as long as they suffer from that affliction…probably not.

A 16-year-old Mashpee High School student has been charged with a felony and two misdemeanors, including threatening to commit a crime and disturbing a school assembly.

You’ve got it…another threatening Twitter story.

The young brain-trust apparently threatened that he or she was going to shoot everyone up at the school. Less than one month after the Newtown Connecticut shooting.

And so, quite rightly, Mashpee Police Chief Rodney Collins explains that “When someone says in a tweet that they’re going to shoot everyone up, we’re going to get involved.”

It was on Monday that the school officials received the printed copy of a Twitter communication between the student-at-issue and a Rockland teen which contained the threat. Just to make sure that nobody missed it, I guess, the Rockland High School Principal Alan H. Cron wrote a letter about it and posted it on the school’s website.
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Today’s Attorney Sam’s Take introduces a concept that law enforcement officials and I regularly discussed back when I was a prosecutor in Brooklyn, NY, hundreds of years ago.

The concept is that of enacting a new statute proclaiming certain activities punishable as “felony stupidity”. It is, however a story which reflects where we are as a society at the moment.

Especially when it comes to new cyber-crimes.

Worcester police are investiginvest what is being called a “hit list” with the names of 200 city high school students on it. Of course, as this is being investigated, there are cyber breadcrumbs to be found along the way.

Take what happenned at South High Shool last week for example. They took a 15-year-old young lady into custody. She has been charged with two counts of being an accessory before the fact. The police admit, however, that there is no “imminent threat” at the school.

Well, except for the young lady, that is, who now has markings on her CORI.

Apparently, one of the complaints that sparked the investigation was parents alerating law enforcement about a series of social media messages. One of these thretening messages, which led to the above-mentioned arrest, was that the teen asked in a tweet if someone would “please” spray her high school with bullets.
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