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 Juvenile Crimes

On Monday, four men who were initially charged with murder pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter for the 2013 hazing death of would-be fraternity brother, Chun Hsien Deng. The 18-year-old student died at a weekend retreat for potential Baruch College members of the Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American fraternity.

In December 2013, Deng traveled to a rental house in the Poconos for a hazing ritual that – according to a statement by Baruch College – would never have been allowed on campus. In the early morning hours, Deng was forced to strap a heavily-weighted backpack to his back, put on a blindfold, and follow other pledges through the so-called “glass ceiling,” a symbol of the Asian-American plight. According to a grand jury report, Deng became defiant, speaking out of turn and kicking one of the fraternity members. In response, the fraternity members became physically aggressive with their pledge, knocking him to the ground and, eventually, rendering him unconscious.

When the fraternity members realized Deng had lost consciousness, they carried him inside, laid him in front of a fireplace, and attempted to revive him. When his breathing became labored, instead of calling for medical help, they started googling phrases such as “concussion can’t wake up,” and even called a national fraternity official, who advised them to hide anything bearing the fraternity’s symbol.

An adult who persuades or helps a minor commit an act of juvenile delinquency may be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor (CDM). In MA, a minor is anyone under the age of 18. Juvenile delinquency is generally a criminal offense committed by a minor. Examples of CDM crimes include:

  • Serving alcohol to a minor
  • Purchasing alcohol for a minor
  • Using illegal drugs in the presence of a minor
  • Engaging in sexual acts with a minor
  • Showing pornographic material to a minor
  • Exposing minors to prostitution, sex trafficking, or any type of sexual exploitation
  • Exposing minors to any type of illegal conduct or activity

In some of the above scenarios, a person charged with CDM may face additional charges. For example, if you provide alcohol to a minor, you may be charged with CDM and providing alcohol to individuals under age 21, as well. An experienced MA defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’re facing CDM charges.

Penalties for a CDM Conviction

As with most crimes, the severity of the underlying offense and past criminal history factor heavily when determining punishment for CDM crimes. Chapter 119 / Section 63 of Massachusetts Law states that: “Any person who shall be found to have caused, induced, abetted, or encouraged or contributed toward the delinquency of a child, or to have acted in any way tending to cause or induce such delinquency, may be punished by a fine of not more than $500 or by imprisonment of not more than one year, or both.” That being said, there are widely varying levels of severity when it comes to CDM charges. A mother who provides alcohol for her 16-year-old son’s after-prom party is likely to receive very different treatment from a 50-year old gym teacher who is caught showing pornography to middle school students.
It is a crime to aid a minor’s act of delinquency in any state. However, in order for an individual’s conduct to be considered an act of CDM, certain elements must be present. An adult must have committed an act that caused a minor to become delinquent. In some cases, an adult can also be charged with CDM if his or her failure to perform a duty caused a minor to become delinquent. And the minor doesn’t even have to actually commit the act for charges to be filed. For instance, if an adult buys marijuana for a minor but the minor never uses it, the adult can still be charged with CDM.

Exceptions to CDM

Certain acts are not always considered a crime. For example, although it is illegal to give alcohol to someone under the age of 21, there are some exceptions. In MA, for instance, it is not a crime for a parent to share a glass of wine with a teenage child in a restaurant. A Boston criminal defense lawyer can help you build a solid defense if you’ve been charged with CDM. Continue reading

A recent study found that many school zones, nationwide, have higher-than-average crime rates. Boston is no exception. But which school zone in Boston is considered the most dangerous? That would be the Roxbury-area school zone surrounding the James P. Timilty Middle School. The zone, which forms a 300-foot radius around the school, was the scene of more than 280 crimes from 2015 to 2017, according to research conducted by Safe Home, a security company that compiles crime data from Boston and several other US cities.

It’s not all bad news; crime in Boston school zones is on the decline. But certain areas are experiencing a disproportionate level of crime around schools. The Boston area’s top five “dangerous school zones” racked up a total of 149 assaults, 147 drug or alcohol crimes, 138 robberies, and 88 gun crimes, all within feet of elementary, middle, and high schools. In addition to Boston, Safe Home analyzed school zone crime in Baton Rouge, Los Angeles, Louisiana, New York City, and Seattle. A MA defense lawyer can help you get your life back on track if you’ve been charged with any type of crime.

Is My Kid’s School Zone on the List?

The school zones in Boston with the highest rates of crime are:

  • James P. Timilty Middle School
  • Codman Academy Charter School (Upper)
  • Holy Name Parish School
  • Dearborn STEM Academy
  • Jeremiah E. Burke High School
  • Boston University
  • Kennedy Day School
  • Pauline A Shaw Elementary School
  • William Monroe Trotter
  • Holmes Elementary School

Enhanced Sentencing for Crimes Committed in School Zones

To compile this information, Safe Home gathered crime data from the U.S. City Open Data Census and cross-referenced it with the geolocations of associated school zones. This high incidence of crime within school zones is even more perplexing given the enhanced penalties for committing crimes within 300 feet of a school. In MA, for example, a person convicted of distributing illicit drugs in a school zone is subject to additional penalties than if the act occurred in a non-school zone. This is even true if the school is not in session. The enhanced sentence for school zone drug crimes in MA is not less than 2.5 years, and up to 15 years in prison, and it carries a fine of up to $10,000.

To be convicted of a “school zone” crime, the offense must have taken place:

  • Within 300 feet of a school.
  • Between the hours of 5:00 am and midnight.
  • Within 100 feet of a playground or public park.

Although Boston’s hardest-hit school zones are experiencing a concerning level of criminal activity, it pales in comparison to the other cities in the study. In fact, one school zone in Seattle racked up more than 3,000 crimes in 2016 alone. A Boston defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with a crime in a school zone. Continue reading

In Massachusetts, if you damage, destroy, or vandalize another’s property, you may receive a criminal citation or charge for malicious damage. This type of property damage can include keying a car, graffiti, or even breaking things while involved in a domestic argument. The charge you may be facing following this type of offense is largely dependent on your intentions when you caused the damage. Although a criminal citation may not seem like a serious consequence, keep in mind that it will still result in a criminal record. And a criminal record can negatively impact you for years, potentially affecting your ability to find a job or housing.

If you hire a skilled MA defense attorney to defend you against a malicious damage charge, your attorney may be able to get the charge dropped in exchange for paying for damages. This will help you to avoid a criminal record and will keep you out of jail. If, however, the charge is not dropped, you may still be eligible for pretrial probation or a pretrial hearing. Both of these options will also keep your record clean.

Penalties for Malicious Damage

Penalties vary based on several factors, including the unique circumstances of the charge and any prior criminal history. However, the guidelines below will give you a good idea of what penalties you may be facing if you are charged with malicious damage.

If you “willfully and maliciously” committed the act for which you are being charged, you could face:

  • Up to 10 years in prison.
  • Fines of up to $3,000 or up to three times the cost of the damage (whichever is greater).

If you “wantonly” committed the act for which you are being charged, you may face:

  • Up to two-and-a-half years in jail.
  • Fines of up to $1,500 or up to three times the cost of the damage (whichever is greater).

“Willful and malicious” means that you intended to cause damage, whereas “wanton” means the damage was caused because you acted carelessly. In either case, if you caused less than $250 in damage, you may still face up to two-and-a-half months in jail and up to three times the cost of the damage.

Protected Property Types

The guidelines above are fairly straightforward unless the property in question is of a certain, protected class. For example, damaging a church generally carriers stiffer penalties than damaging an abandoned building. The types of property below carry a more serious charge, due to their sacred or special nature. You may face a felony charge if you are convicted of destroying or vandalizing any of the following property types:

  • School or educational facility
  • Community center
  • Church
  • Mosque
  • Synagogue
  • House of worship
  • Cemetery
  • Memorial

If you are charged with defacing or destroying any of the above property types, it is essential that you contact a Boston defense attorney immediately. If the damage is valued at more than $5,000, you may find yourself in prison for up to five years. If it’s less than $5,000, you could still face jail time of up to two-and-a-half years and pay fines of up to three times the cost of the damage you caused. Furthermore, a felony charge on your record could haunt you for decades. Don’t make the mistake of hiring the wrong attorney if you are facing charges for malicious damage. Continue reading

Court records are public domain. Essentially that means that anyone with a few bucks to spend can access your criminal record, arrests, and even your mug shot. An expungement is a process in Massachusetts whereby these records are sealed. Although criminal records are not erased, they become inaccessible to the public, which includes potential employers and landlords. Read on for more information about expungements, if you are eligible to have a prior conviction or arrest expunged, and how to accomplish this liberating task.

If you were arrested but found not guilty, an expungement is a relatively easy process. You can file for an expungement, which will prevent the record of your arrest from being viewed by the public. It will also prevent the record from showing up in an employment or housing background check. If you were convicted, however, things get a bit more complicated. If you have been charged with a crime, contact a MA defense attorney today.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony

If the conviction was for a misdemeanor offense, you can file for an expungement once five years have passed without another conviction. Basically, your record has to remain spotless. If you were convicted of a felony, however, the “spotless record” period increases to 10 years. And much is dependent on the underlying offense. If you were convicted of an OUI, the likelihood of an expungement is good. If it was a sexual offense, you must wait at least 15 years and the process becomes extremely complex. If you are considering getting a felony offense expunged from your record, contact a Boston criminal defense lawyer today.

The Process

Clearing your record of prior arrests and convictions can have an immensely positive impact on your life. No longer will you be filled with anxiety every time you apply for a job, housing, or even a loan. A positive outcome calls for experienced legal counsel. In theory, you can apply for an expungement on your own, but it is highly inadvisable. A minor error can be the difference between a clean record and a mistake that continues to haunt you for years.

Step one is to file a “Petition to Seal” with the District Court from which the case originated. This can include documents that support your petition, including disadvantages arising from public access to your record, evidence of rehabilitation, and other relevant evidence and circumstances. The next steps include:

  • Preliminary review of your petition: Once filed, the District Court judge will begin to review your petition. If you meet the preliminary requirements for expungement, you will be notified of a court hearing date. If you do not meet the preliminary requirements, you will be notified in writing.
  • Hearing: The purpose of the hearing is to give you an opportunity to tell the court why your record should be expunged. If you hire an attorney, in addition to filing all paperwork above, he or she can speak on your behalf at the hearing.
  • Decision: At the conclusion of your hearing, you will either be given an immediate decision or the judge will take the case under advisement. If the latter, you will be notified by mail of the final decision.
  • Appeals: If the initial decision is not favorable, you can appeal with the MA Appeals Court.

Continue reading

Most parents understand that it is illegal to provide minors with alcohol, even at a well-controlled, responsible party held at their home. Of course, some still choose to do it. But what if kids consume alcohol in your home without your knowledge? Can you still get in trouble? If you ask Stanford Professor Bill Burnett, who was arrested on 44 counts of contributing to the delinquency of minors in 2012, he would likely give you a resounding yes. Burnett and his wife claim to have provided chips and soda for the kids before going to bed only to be woken up hours later when cops responded to a complaint of underage drinking.

Although Burnett claims to have told his son that absolutely no alcohol was permitted, he was charged under social host laws for each of the 44 teens in attendance at his son’s party that night. Each charge was a misdemeanor offense with penalties of jail time and up to $2,000 in fines. About 18 states have social host liability laws, and Massachusetts is one of them. Social host laws prohibit serving or providing access to alcohol to minors, but simply being present in a home where minors are imbibing – even if you are unaware – may result in legal consequences. In fact, parents may even face criminal charges if they weren’t home during an alcohol-infused teen party. If you are facing charges for providing alcohol to a minor, contact a Boston criminal defense lawyer today.

As stated in Massachusetts General Law Chapter 138 section 34:

In just about every interaction with law enforcement, you can refuse to answer questions asked by police. However, depending on the circumstances, the outcome may be somewhat different. Whether or not you are in custody at the time of questioning may play a significant role in how police respond to your silence. Often times the police will want to talk to you regarding a crime that you may be a suspect.  Certainly contacting a Boston Criminal defense lawyer is your smartest and safest way to handle this, however, if you choose to speak to the police with an attorney present it’s important to know your rights.  Read on to explore three different scenarios and to learn how “staying mum” can impact the outcome of each.

Silence is Golden

If you are stopped out of the blue, you can refuse to answer police questions. Although the well-known Miranda warning (you have the right to remain silent) won’t be read to you in a brief investigatory stop, it is your right to refuse to answer questions. You may also ask if you are being detained. If you are, you must stay present. However, if police say you are not being detained, you can stop talking and slowly walk – don’t run – away. If you are facing charges for any type of criminal offense, contact a Boston defense lawyer today.

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.

Infractions

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

College students who commit crimes can be prosecuted just like anyone else. In fact, they are often subject to additional penalties by athletic departments or college administrators.  As you know Massachusetts is loaded with a number of public and private colleges. Most schools have codes of conduct, especially in the case of student athletes. These codes of conduct include academic standards and how the school deals with inappropriate or criminal behavior, such as drug use or sexual assault. For example, the school may suspend a student athlete from participating in sports activities during an investigation into criminal charges. For particularly serious crimes, the school may suspend financial aid, or even permanently expel the student.

Most Common On-Campus Crimes

All types of crimes can, and have been, committed on college campuses, from DUI to assault and battery, to murder. But certain crimes are committed at a much higher rate than others. The most common on-campus crimes include:

  • In 2011, the most commonly reported crime on college campuses was burglary, with a total of 6,712 burglaries that year. The previous year had seen 7,241 burglaries.
  • The second most reported on-campus crime is motor vehicle theft, with more than 1,300 car thefts occurring annually.
  • The third most common on-campus crime is sexual assault, with 1,153 reported in 2011.

Student Courts

Serious offenses, such as those above, will require non-campus law enforcement. However, small offenses may be dealt with by on-campus student courts. Depending on the offense, the student may represent himself or herself in front of a student court. Less serious offenses include underage drinking, hazing crimes, petty theft, marijuana possession, harassment, and bullying. However, as with any type of crime, most on-campus crimes require the assistance of a skilled defense attorney.

An arrest by campus police can hold the same power as an arrest by state and local law enforcement. Many campus police are branches of local law enforcement and have the same powers to secure a warrant and make an arrest. Even if campus police have limited powers, criminal charges can be filed with local law enforcement following an arrest by campus police.

Do College Athletes Get Preferential Treatment?

In most cases, college students who commit crimes receive the same type of punishment as everyone else. However, a recent study revealed that student athletes are much less likely to be prosecuted than their non-athlete counterparts. The ESPN investigation, which studied 20 campuses between 2009 and 2014, found that football and basketball players at the University of Florida who were charged with criminal behavior, were not prosecuted or had the charges dropped more than half the time. In addition to possible preferential treatment, the report also cited other contributing factors, including access to high-profile attorneys and victim intimidation. Continue reading

Usually, a stroll to the local CVS Pharmacy is something that you can assume will be non-eventful.

Not in Stoughton. Not last week.

Last week, three kids allegedly entered a Stoughton CVS, had words with another teen and then shot him.

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