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 Department of Children and Families

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) protects children and helps troubled families. To do this, the agency investigates reports of child abuse or neglect, and provides services to help families in need. These services can include daycare and counseling, but DCF may also remove children from the home if they think they are in danger. This is a good thing. Unfortunately, however, DCF is comprised of humans, and humans make mistakes. It is not uncommon for kids to be removed from the home due to false accusations or misunderstandings. That being said, it’s important to know – If DCF is investigating your family, what are your rights?

In addition to investigating reports of abuse and neglect, DCF is a licensed child placement agency. As such, the agency can place kids in foster care or arrange for their adoption. If DCF investigates your family, you may be asked to accept services as a condition of your children remaining in the home. If your children are removed from the home, the agency may require you to accept services before getting them back. In addition to daycare and counseling, DCF may also provide (or require) homemaker and parenting skills education services. If the court orders you to complete certain programs or partake of certain services, they will be presented to you in the form of a service plan. It is a good idea to contact a Boston defense attorney before you sign your service plan.

Why Am I Being Investigated?

In MA, any report of abuse or neglect (known as a 51A report) must be investigated. There doesn’t have to be probable cause, beyond the report itself. For this reason, anyone from a jealous ex-spouse to an angry neighbor can make false or exaggerated accusations. And to make things even more frustrating, these reports can be made anonymously. In most cases, emergency reports are investigated within 24 hours and non-emergency reports within 10 days.

Can DCF Take My Kids if I Don’t Know the 51A Has Been Filed?

Depending on the circumstances of your case, DCF can take your children before notifying you.  This is almost exclusively in the event of an emergency situation. In these cases, police may appear at your home with a social worker and an order obtained from the judge to remove your children immediately. If this happens, contact a MA defense attorney right away. You will need to go to court, which sometimes happens immediately after the children have been removed from the home. It is your right to be granted a hearing within 72 hours, at which point the judge will decide if your child will be in danger if he or she remains in the home pending the full hearing. Having a lawyer by your side throughout this process is essential.

What Are My Rights?

Although there’s not much you can do, in the moment, to stop an emergency order to remove children from your home, you do have rights. And any violation of these rights can be used in your favor. When the social worker tells you the details of the allegations against you, he or she must be as specific as possible. If you believe that the accusations were made out of spite, you may wish to tell the social worker. But be careful. As in any interaction with law enforcement and social workers, anything you say can be used against you.


  • You have the right to request a copy of the report, as well as the investigative summary.
  • If a social worker notifies you of an investigation, you have the right to have an attorney present during the investigation.
  • You have the right to refuse to speak with the social worker, and you can refuse to let the social worker into your home. However, DCF will likely obtain a court order to enter.
  • It is also your right to have an attorney view any documents before you sign them.

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False accusations occur more frequently than most people think. Especially when it comes to cases involving bitter divorces and child custody battles. Depending on the circumstances of the accusation, however, penalties range from a proverbial slap on the wrist to up to 20 years in prison. The penalties you may be facing for making false criminal accusations are largely dependent on your intent, what you accused someone of, and how you made the accusation.

Accidentally making a false accusation is not a crime. If you report in good faith that someone has committed a crime, you are not likely to face criminal prosecution even if that person did not, in fact, commit a crime. Of course, you may have to convince the court that your accusation was made in good faith. A MA defense lawyer can help if you find yourself in this situation. If, however, you cannot show that you reasonably believed the accusation to be true, you may find yourself criminally and civilly liable.

Was There Intent?

In MA, it is a misdemeanor to knowingly report false information to police. In addition to up to one year in jail, you may also face a civil lawsuit for falsely accusing another person of a crime. False accusations can result in emotional distress and suffering on the part of the person being accused. For these reasons, you could be facing punitive and compensatory damages for making a false accusation. Compensatory damages compensate victims for any losses they suffered due to your actions, while punitive damages are paid as a form of punishment.

When you falsely accuse another person of committing a crime, the legal claims you are most likely to face will be civil claims based on one of the following: malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, or defamation of character.

Accusations of Terrorism

In some cases, false accusations can carry felony charges. If you falsely accuse someone of terrorist activity, or of something serious and immediate enough to require urgent response from police, your punishment will be more severe. “Swatting” occurs when a SWAT team or other urgent response from law enforcement is necessitated. Penalties for this type of false accusation are much higher for two reasons: there is a greater chance that the civil rights of the accused will be violated if an urgent response occurs, and the cost of deploying a SWAT team or similar response is great. As such, false accusations involving terrorism may be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Randomly making a false accusation about someone to a friend or acquaintance isn’t likely to result in criminal charges. When you make false accusations to law enforcement, however, you are likely to find yourself in hot water.  A Boston defense attorney can help you determine the best legal strategy if you are facing these charges. Of course, as with all offenses, prior criminal history will factor heavily in the outcome of your case. Continue reading

If the allegations against a certain 28-year-old Boston woman, hereinafter The “Defendant”, are true, she has demonstrated quite an example on what not to do.

According to the Boston Herald, law enforcement says that the Defendant was driving while intoxicated. This, in itself, is against the law and very unwise. But that’s not all.

The police also allege that the Defendant was driving at a very high rate of speed. Certainly, the speed was well over the speed limit. Also not a great idea. Still not all.

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In my last blog, I laid out the facts for a case, which was recently dismissed because we were able to uncover exculpatory evidence from the Department of Children and Families. Our client was charged with Assault and Battery on a minor (his 7 year old step-son). The child made the initial disclosure of the abuse 2 years after the abuse was alleged to have occurred at a time when the Department of Children and Families were already involved. We motioned the court, pursuant to Massachusetts Criminal Procedure Rule 17; to issue a summons to DCF for their records regarding the child at the time abuse was alleged to have occurred.
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A basic rule of criminal procedure is that the Commonwealth must turnover any and all exculpatory evidence (evidence which can lead the fact finder to believe the defendant is innocent) within their possession to the defense. In most cases there is rarely much exculpatory evidence, because if there were, the defendant would probably not have been charged in the first place. A problem arises when there is exculpatory evidence but it is not in the Commonwealth’s possession (even if commonsense says it should be).
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There are some cases where it is best for defense counsel to offer no comments before he receives specifics of allegations against his clients.

These include matters where there are many moving parts and competing interests.

Cases like when one’s liberty is caught between law enforcement and the caught-in-the-public’s-headlights, the Department of Children and Families.

The case of Alexandrea Delyla Chadwick, 22 years of age and hereinafter, the “Defendant” for example.

The Defendant was just in Worcester Superior Court to plead not guilty to charges that she was, at least in part, responsible for the abuse of her boyfriend’s 7-year-old son (hereinafter, the “Son”). Authorities say that the Son was starved and burned.
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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker presented a reform of the Department of Children and Families on Monday. The reform highlighted a series of steps being taken in an effort to fix the immense issues that have been plaguing the department in recent years. Following the death and serious injury of several children under DCF care, there have been multiple calls for reform to the struggling department. Governor Baker had been facing immense scrutiny for his perceived lack of initiative in beginning the reform. But the new policy announcement that took place today has shown that Governor Baker has been anything but complacent.

Governor Baker has stated in the past that he believed that the Department of Children and Families had “fundamental issues” that needed to be fixed in an accelerated manner. Just recently he began this improvement by naming Linda Spears the new DCF commissioner. Once Spears was hired for the position in February of 2015, she immediately went to action issuing reforms for the various fragmented pieces of the department. One of the main reforms she began to instate was the call for additional CORI checks for potential and existing foster families. The new policies outlined by Spears also included photo documentation for children, as well as updated guidelines for social workers visiting families involved with the department.

The new reform taking place has provided specific steps that have one main objective in mind, in the words of Governor Baker himself: “…to keep kids safe.” Too many tragedies have befallen the young children under DCF care, and the reform presented on Monday will help combat these tragedies from occurring yet again. Governor Baker’s presentation included six clear initiatives that will help keep the focus on the children. Continue reading

The Department of Children and Families has been facing an immense amount of scrutiny following a growing number of failures at the hands of their employees. The death of two children under their watch, accompanied by the resulting coma one child is facing following further failure, has placed the organization under a microscope in recent times. The system has been facing excessive difficulties in Western Massachusetts during the past two years which has individuals calling for a strict reform of the department in order to ensure safety for all the children in its care. Due to the rapidly increasing number of children being placed under DCF custody however, this reform may take longer than anticipated.

According to reports, there are currently close to 27,000 opens cases in the Department of Children and Families sweeping across the state. The western area of Massachusetts is bearing the brunt of this with approximately 40% of the open cases located in the Western region. Two children who died despite being under watch of the DCF were also housed in Western Massachusetts—prompting further cries of frustration from those on the outside looking in.

Jeremiah Oliver, a young boy from Fitchburg, was reported missing from his home for months before his body was discovered on the side of the road not far from his home. Avalena Conway-Coxon, a two year old girl placed into foster care in Auburn, Massachusetts was found dead inside the home after her foster mother called police to report that the child was unresponsive. Another young girl was taken from the home the same day and is still listed in dire condition. Seven year old Jack Loiselle was living with his father and was taken from his home severely dehydrated and malnourished with burns to his hands and feet—he still remains in a coma a month later. All of these children had a common thread tying them together: they had all been under the care of the Department of Children and Families, and they all suffered greatly despite this fact. Jack Loiselle received a visit from DCF just weeks before his admittance to the hospital—and the caseworker assigned to this visit apparently did not find anything alarming while they were there. Jack Loiselle weighed just 38 pounds when he was taken from his home. Continue reading

Officials have publicly identified the foster mother who was housing two young girls in an Auburn, Massachusetts home that one of them died in. Kimberly Malpass was caring for six children at the time of the heartbreaking discovery of two girls, aged two and younger, found unconscious in their home. Malpass is the biological mother of two sons, as well as the adoptive mother of a daughter, and the foster mother to three other children, all of whom were living in the house at the time. Malpass was the one who called 911 in near hysterics when she discovered the two young girls.

The investigation into the matter is still ongoing, but initial reports released for this case have indicated that upon arrival at the home in Auburn, police discovered two young children unconscious. One of the girls, a child identified as Avalena Conway-Coxon, had been cradled in the arms of Malpass prior to police arriving on scene. A neighbor said that she heard Malpass screaming at some point during the afternoon and that Malpass had run out of the house holding the young girl in her arms before she called for help. The second child, who has not yet been identified by police, was found lying by the door when they entered the premise. Both children were rushed to the hospital—Avalena was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later. The second girl remains in intensive critical care and an immediate update on her condition was not made available.

An autopsy has been performed on Avalena, but an exact cause of death has not been determined at this time. Reports have shown, however, that the young girl that has remained hospitalized showed signs of overheating as well as bruising consistent with that of a seat belt harness. Investigators are looking into the temperature inside the house as a possible contributing factor in this case.

A man from Hardwick, Massachusetts who is facing charges for severe child abuse is being held on $200,000 bail following his hearing in East Brookfield District Court this Wednesday. Randall E. Lints is accused of abusing and starving his 7 year old son Jack Loiselle, who has remained unconscious in a long term care facility since police were called to the family’s home last month. The public defender appointed to the case to assist Randall Lints says he believes the court ordered a high bail for the situation because they knew that Lints would be unable to pay the $200,000 amount. The public defender, Michael S. Hussey, called the decision a “forgone conclusion” after the announcement had been made official in court on Wednesday.

Michael Hussey also believes that the blame for what happened to this innocent child does not just lie with his client Randall Lints. Following the bail decision yesterday, Hussey spoke to reporters and said that “There may be plenty of blame to go around in terms of what lead to this terrible tragedy. The actions, decisions and choices made by previous caretakers, maybe judges, DCF workers, their supervisors, other people and certainly Mr. Lints himself.” Attorney Hussey went on to say that Lints only has a 5th or 6th grade level of education and that he feels as though this was a contributing factor in how Lints viewed discipline for his child. Hussey also believes that Randall Lints may have been receiving mixed messages from those around him, including DCF officials, about the proper way to punish children. Though there is no concrete evidence as of yet that DCF officials did in fact provide Lints with any sort of support in terms of how he handled punishment for his son Jack, Hussey still believes that Lints remained confused as to what was appropriate. According to statements provided by Randall Lints, he had indicated in the past that Jack suffered from behavioral issues, and that the punishments he inflicted were in retribution to these actions. And while Lints may not have fully understood how to properly deal with the behavioral issues his son was enduring, the general consensus is that the punishments were too severe for the crimes.

Among other things, Lints is being accused of locking Jack Loiselle in his room for unknown periods of time with very little food and water. Jack was unable to do things that the other children in the house were allowed to do, such as watch TV and play games. Jack loved school and was on his way to becoming a star student—but if he were to act out in any way, Lints would punish him by taking away his ability to do homework or even to go to class. Reports have also stated that Jack suffered chemical burns on his hands and feet after Lints would make him wash the floors with bleach for having an accident where Jack urinated on the floor. All of these punishments came to an end when Randall Lints had to call the police to his home upon finding Jack unresponsive in his room. At the time that law enforcement officials arrived on scene, Jack was dehydrated and weighed approximately 38 pounds. According to reports, he had allegedly lost 10-15 pounds over the period of a few short weeks. Those weeks happened to include visits from DCF—something that is generating outrage from those on the outside of the situation looking in. If DCF officials, who are supposed to be providing care and safety to children under their supervision, could not detect that something seriously wrong was taking place here then what were they doing?

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