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 Expungement/Sealing Record

People make mistakes. If a past mistake resulted in a criminal record, you may be worried about how it might affect your chances of getting a certain job. Some fields, especially those that involve working with children, are especially thorough when it comes to background checks. If you are considering becoming a teacher, it would be wise to do some research on how a past criminal conviction may impact your chances. The information below may provide answers to some of your questions. If you still have questions after reading this post, a Boston defense lawyer can help you determine how to move forward.

Which Crimes are Showstoppers?

Here’s the thing – it’s not usually the criminal record itself that prevents you from getting a job, but the nature of the underlying offense. A misdemeanor offense from years ago can likely be explained away, but a sexual abuse conviction, for example, is another story. Local school districts hire teachers, and those districts must adhere to state regulations when it comes to teacher certification and hiring guidelines. With regard to Massachusetts, the offenses below will either seriously impact your ability to become a teacher in this state, or they will disqualify you altogether:

  • First and second-degree felonies: These are generally serious crimes, and school districts will consider them seriously. If the felony occurred a long time ago, and it wasn’t of a sexual or violent nature, it is possible that a solid explanation can pave the way to a teaching job. But you may have an uphill climb, to say the least.
  • Sexual Offenses: These are likely to be showstoppers. Teachers deal with children on a daily basis, and a person who has a history of sexual offenses may not be the best candidate for this type of position. Even if your crime wasn’t against a child, a sexual offense will almost certainly disqualify you from becoming a teacher in MA.
  • Offenses that endangered others: If you have been convicted of an endangerment offense (anything that put the safety or lives of others in jeopardy), you will probably not being writing your name on a blackboard in MA anytime soon.
  • Drug offenses: Here, again, the underlying offense is the determining factor. If you were busted smoking pot 10 years ago, you’ll probably be off the hook if your record has remained clear since. But if you were convicted of heroin possession with the intent to sell three years ago, chances are you’re not going to be called back for a second interview.

There are ways to get a teaching position with a criminal record. And there are ways to get certain past convictions expunged (cleared from your record entirely). A MA criminal defense attorney can help you determine if expungement is an option for you.

The following statement was taken from the website of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:

“A criminal record will not automatically disqualify an individual from licensure

by the Department. Rather, the Department will make determinations of an

individual’s suitability based on CORI checks conducted consistent with this

policy, with licensure standards adopted by the Board of Education, and with any

other applicable law or regulations.” Continue reading

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:

Background checks are widely used by employers during the pre-employment screening process in Massachusetts and across the country. Depending on the type of background check used, it can show everything from the level of education you’ve attained to whether or not you make your car payment on time each month. Information about credit history, however, is actually declining as a component of background checks, due to controversy. Lots of folks think it’s unfair to base an individual’s employability on his ability, or lack thereof, to make his mortgage payment back in 2011. Criminal background checks, on the other hand, are becoming more prevalent, and thorough, every year. Read on for more information about pre-employment background checks and how they may affect you. If you still have questions, contact a MA defense lawyer today.

Driving History

These reports are especially important to employers when hiring for a position that requires the applicant to drive a company vehicle. A driver history report uncovers whether or not the applicant can legally drive, if he or she has a history of traffic-related drug or alcohol offenses, and if the applicant can be insured to operate a company vehicle. A report from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) shows vehicle-related convictions (such as OUI), actions taken by the DMV (such as license suspension due to excessive points), and past and current addresses used by the applicant.

Criminal Background Checks

This type of background check is commonly used by employers, a fact which shouldn’t be a surprise. For starters, adult convictions are almost always public record, meaning the information can be obtained by anyone with the desire to do the research. If you’ve been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense, you’d better believe it’s going to show up in a pre-employment background check. If you’ve been charged with any type of crime, contact a Boston defense lawyer today.


What’s an infraction? Technically speaking, an infraction is not a crime. A good example of an infraction is a traffic ticket. The good news – you don’t really need to worry about infractions, and you generally aren’t required to report them to an employer. For example, you wouldn’t list last year’s speeding ticket on an employment application (unless of course you were drunk and in possession of a gun at the time).

What About Probation and Outstanding Warrants?

Probation is a period of court supervision. As an alternative to a jail sentence, probation is treated similarly for reporting purposes. If you are on active probation, it will almost certainly show up on a background check. Likewise with outstanding warrants. If a report shows that you have an outstanding bench or arrest warrant, most employers will immediately disqualify you from the application process. Being a “fugitive” of the justice system doesn’t usually bode well with potential employers. Of course, if the outstanding warrant appears to be a mistake, there may be some room for discussion. But that’s generally the exception, not the rule. 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.

In my last posting, we spoke about a particular defendant who was arrested for drug crimes. Members of his family were also arrested at the scene for, basically, trying to prevent the arrest from taking place as the officers had intended it. Let’s call them, collectively, the “Defendant Family”.

On Thursday, I indicated that the Defendant Family would already be  affected by their arrest even if they ended up being found “not guilty”.

What many people still do not realize is that you do not need to be convicted to lose your “innocence” under the law.

A Clerk Magistrate hearing takes place in some cases before an arraignment. There is no judge at such a hearing, only a Clerk Magistrate. The purpose of the hearing is to decide if there is probable cause for the Clerk Magistrate to issue a criminal complaint. Should the criminal complaint issue, the next step is an arraignment.

This is why the Clerk Magistrates hearing is so critical to a defendant. It is the last stop before an arraignment. It is more than worth doing all that you can, usually through counsel, to get one. We have discussed the requirements and procedures for this in earlier blogs and, I am sure, will return to them again at some point.

But not today.

As you know, an arraignment is the first time a criminal defendant appears before a judge. At the arraignment, a defendant effectively loses his or her presumption of innocence.

“Sam, how can that be? We are all told that the presumption of innocence never ends unless and until the government proves the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before a judge or jury.”

You’re right. That is what we are told. In some cases, it is actually close to true.

Continue reading

As the Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog indicated yesterday, officials in Newton are reviewing their hiring procedures in the wake of the two recent arrests relating to child pornography. It may be worth noting that these were arrests…not convictions…but, then again, to most…maybe not.

Anyway, Mayor Setti Warren has announced, “We’re going to look at everything,…We want to take a look at what options there are inside the city, outside the city, and within the balance of the law.” He went on to say that the sessions will look at not only additional screening of potential employees, but also at their training and supervision on things like how complaints will be handled. He added that the findings will be reported to the public.

While, for the most part, this sounds reasonable, there are still issues. For example, Newton city did a criminal history check on the two recent arrestees before they were hired. Said history check includes checking the state’s Criminal Offender Record Information ( “CORI”). Further, the CORI check is repeated every three years. No problems were found in either case. While some say that databases outside the Commonwealth should also be checked, doing so would apparently not have prevented the instant situation; neither man had any record of criminal history.

So…where do we go from here?

Attorney Sam’s Take On Criminal Offender Record Information Searches

Let’s do what any experienced criminal defense attorney has to do on a daily basis…separate, to some degree, what one is concerned with, depending on which hat one is wearing at the time. For example, as a citizen, I am against crime. As a defense lawyer, I defend alleged criminals (I, semi-jokingly, prefer the term “the misunderstood amongst us”). As you know, of course, I have strong concerns about the criminal justice system which are consistent with both hats…but that is a topic for another day.

The topic here, for today at least, is the CORI check
Let’s start with the prevention hat. How can we make sure that potential predators do not end up with jobs through which they can victimize the innocent? Well, sure, CORI can be a start. Further, I agree that, if you are going do CORI checks, it makes sure not to limit yourself to this state…particularly if the subject has ever worked or lived in a different state.

“Well, what information does CORI give you?”

Continue reading

It is a situation that we have discussed a number of times on the Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog. Yet, particularly since the initial response to getting such a care package from the government is usually panic, it is worth revisiting.

First of all, the good news. What you have received and believe is a criminal complaint is probably not really a criminal complaint.

Although it is not a criminal complaint, it is an extremely important piece of paper that must be treated as such. What you have probably received is a summons to go to court in connection with criminal allegations that are, indeed, being made against you. The summons is likely one of two kinds. You are being summoned to either an arraignment or a clerk magistrate’s hearing.

If you ignore this piece of paper, as further discussed below, you risk being arrested. Plaintly put, you are being summoned to appear in court. Should you ignore or forget about the date the sumons reflects, a warrant will likely be issued by the court, mandating your arrest.
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It happened again last week in the south of Boston island known as Cape Cod. Two gentlemen were arrested for armed robbery of a taxi driver in Oak Bluffs. Soon, they were facing the halls of Justice in Edgartown after the brief investigation. One went to regular court. One met his attorney in Juvenile Court.

It is not a terribly unusual occurrence in today’s criminal justice system. In fact, this daily blog has posted various such stories over the past year.

I started handling cases of adult/juvenile “team-ups” back in Brooklyn when I was a prosecutor. At the time, juveniles became the drug dealer of choice because of a belief in the trade that kids would not be prosecuted. So, they would be paid the “big bucks” to do the actual hand-to-hand sales. Whether the logic was correct then or not…it is not correct now.

Juveniles get prosecuted today and said prosecution can last a lifetime.
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As we close the lid on this three-part Attorney Sam’s Take posting on Disorderly Conduct, we look at where I come in. Along with other criminal defense attorneys, I stand ready to represent a client facing such charges. When is the best time to contact me? Immediately. In fact, particularly if the police approach is merely signalling an upcoming or ongoing investigation, before you even engage in a discussion with the officer. Unfortunately, in most cases, I am summoned after the confrontation has taken place, sometimes leaving the addition of a Disorderly Conduct charge to whatever issues existed before the confrontation.

First of all, understand that, while it is the police officer who locks one up, or seeks a complaint against you, it is the prosecuting attorney, the assistant district attorney, who carries your prosecution from there. Prosecutors vary in terms of experience, of course, but most are well-trained and have the resources of the Commonwealth behind them for advice, investigation and tactics. Back in that “perfect world” I mentioned yesterday, the prosecutor always follows his or her oath…to “do justice”.

As I also mentioned, this is not that perfect world.

Like the police officer, the prosecutor did not wake up in the morning and engage in a search to find innocent people to keep in jail. Most prosecutors earnestly do their job. However, they have their own biases and these biases usually include a belief that the arresting officer’s word is gold and, if you were arrested, you are guilty. Tempered with those beliefs, of course, is the fear that I have mentioned many times that, if simply released with no attention, you may go out and kill somebody”, thereby landing them and their boss, who sits in a political position, in the papers the next day and, potentially without a job.
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Ok, you are sitting in your home around Boston. You hear a police car, sirens screaming, speeding down the street. You momentarily jump because of that old warrant you used to have pending against you. Then, you relax; you remember that, after you started reading this daily blog, you contacted an experienced criminal defense lawyer and cleared the warrant, and the case attached to it,up.

But then, you remember that said nasty stain still exists on your otherwise clean criminal record, or, as it is more commonly called, “CORI”.

What to do?

Is there anything you can do?

Well, there might be, depending on the circumstances. Massachusetts law has changed over the years regarding the possibilities and procedures of the expungements (erasing) and sealing of criminal records.

Totally erasing any sign of a criminal matter is not generally possible in the Commonwealth. That solution is basically left for instances where the wrong person was arrested.

No, that does not mean if your defense in the case was “I didn’t do it”.
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