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 Sexual 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

Sexual assault is a serious crime, and MA punishes it harshly. It is loosely defined as the unwanted and offensive sexual touching of another. The type of touching can vary widely; forced penetration is one form of sexual assault, but so is slapping a woman’s buttocks without permission. In the example of forced penetration, the crime would likely be elevated to rape.

At Altman & Altman, LLP, we understand that humans make mistakes. Further, sometimes jealous or disgruntled ex-lovers – or individuals who wish to seek revenge – make false accusations. A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with sexual assault.

Indecent Assault and Battery vs. Aggravated Sexual Assault

There are two types of sexual assault: indecent assault and battery, and aggravated sexual assault. In the aforementioned scenario, grabbing or slapping a woman’s buttocks without her permission would fall under the category of indecent assault and battery. If, however, the offender slapped the woman’s buttocks and pushed her to the ground, causing injury, the offender may be charged with aggravated indecent assault. If the injuries were so severe that the victim required medical attention, the charges would likely be elevated to aggravated sexual assault, which carries significantly harsher punishments. In any of the above scenarios, if the victim was forced, coerced, or manipulated into unwanted sexual contact, criminal charges will almost certainly follow.

Penalties for Sexual Assault

In MA, a conviction of sexual assault is likely to result in jail time and inclusion on the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry. The following information provides additional details about the different types of indecent assault and battery and aggravated sexual assault crimes in MA, and the penalties offenders may face. A MA criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights, reputation, and freedom if you’ve been charged with sexual assault or any type of criminal offense.

  • Indecent Assault and Battery when the victim is over the age of 14: This includes any touching that is “fundamentally offensive to contemporary moral values,” such as the touching of genitals, breasts, or buttocks. This crime may result in up to five years in prison.
  • Indecent Assault and Battery when the victim is under the age of 14: When the acts above are committed against a child under the age of 14, the penalties increase substantially. This is because a minor under the age of 14 cannot consent to any type of sexual touching. The penalty for this criminal act is up to 10 years in prison.
  • Indecent Assault and Battery when the victim has an intellectual disability: Penalties of up to 10 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of five years.
  • Indecent Assault and Battery when the victim is elderly or disabled: Penalties of up to 10 years in prison when the victim has permanent or long-term physical or mental impairments.
  • Aggravated Indecent Assault and Battery when the victim is under the age of 14: This is a felony offense and may carry a sentence of life in prison. The minimum sentence is 10 years.

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Five teens have been arrested and are facing charges for statutory rape in a case involving a single victim, a 16-year-old girl. The South Haven, Michigan teens, all 17 or 18 years of age, attend the same high school as the victim. The severity of the case has brought a lot of attention, but the fact that the defendants are all on the school’s varsity basketball team has made this case national news.

Another student informed a school counselor about the encounters between the five defendants and the victim. The police were notified following the student’s report, and each of the five teens was arraigned and released on $1,000 bond. While they await trial or the resolution of their charges, the teens have been permitted to return to classes. However, they have been suspended from the basketball team. A Boston defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with any type of sex offense.

What is Statutory Rape?

As details of this case are still limited, it is not known whether the acts were committed with the victim’s consent, or under coercion or force. But statutory rape doesn’t require force. Even consensual sex is a crime, if one of the participants is under age. If, however, force or coercion was used, the charges may be elevated to a more serious charge with more serious penalties and punishments. In MA, statutory rape is committed if a person engages in sexual acts with someone under the age of 16. However, in MA, statutory rape is charged as “rape of a child,” and carries stiff penalties, along with the need to register as a sex offender.

What are the Penalties for Statutory Rape?

Penalties for statutory rape vary widely. For example, the punishment for a 17-year-old who has consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend is likely to be much less severe than for a 25-year-old man who has sex with a 12-year-old. Punishments can range from no jail time to life in prison. Sexual acts against a child are punished more severely if:

  • The child is under age 12 and the defendant is five or more years older.
  • The child is between 12 and 16 years of age and the defendant is ten or more years older.
  • The defendant is a doctor, teacher, clergy member, or social worker.

It is even illegal for a child under the age of 16 to have sexual intercourse with another child under that age. Therefore, in the case of a 14 and 15-year-old couple who choose to have sexual intercourse, both could be charged with a crime. Many states have something called a “Romeo and Juliet law” that holds that consensual sex with an underage individual is not considered statutory rape unless there is a certain age difference between the parties. But MA has not adopted the Romeo and Juliet law. So, as it stands, sexual intercourse with someone under age 16, regardless of the defendant’s age, is a crime. In addition to possible jail or prison time and fines, anyone convicted of a sex crime in MA must register as a sex offender. A MA defense attorney can help if you’ve been charged with rape of a child for a consensual relationship with someone close to your age. Continue reading

We have been discussing certain criminal justice truths as they apply to two high-profile matters. In one case, a dentist was charged with sexual assault. In the other, a dentist was charged with a drug-related fraud.

In both cases, the defendants are alleged to have abused their position of trust in order to perform their evil deeds.

Today, the Boston Globe , tells us of the arraignment in another such matter, this time playing out in Malden District Court.

This case involves 34-year-old Darnell K. Booth (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) stands accused of the rape of a 16-year-old Everett girl last month.

According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant was working as an Uber driver at the time the two met. He drove her in June and then allegedly contacted her through Snapchat. On July 5, she needed a ride to a summer school program.  Coincidentally, the Defendant contacted her on Snapchat to ask if she needed a ride.

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In my last blog, we discussed two pending cases involving Massachusetts dentists. One was charged for sexual assault and the other was for using his position to get drugs illegally.

We started discussing similarity “between the lines” with the two cases.  It comes down to the fact that they are both “high profile” cases.

Attorney Sam’s Take On The Changes Involved In High Profile Cases

For more years than I care to remember, I have handled “high profile” cases .

In the previous century, I began my professional career as a prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York. There was no shortage of high-profile criminal prosecutions. It was the 1980s, the early days of the crack epidemic, a high point in racial unrest and the changing of how much the media affected criminal cases. I saw from the point of view of the prosecutor the considerations and how they change when the matter is in the public Eye.

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This has been a bad week for dentists of the Commonwealth already…and it’s only Wednesday!

Let’s start with a Worcester dentist  arrested Monday after allegedly indecently assaulting an adult patient.

According to law enforcement, police responded at around 11:00 am to a report of a woman claiming to have been indecently assaulted. The 35-year-old female complainant reported that during her 9 a.m. appointment with her long-term dentist, Dr. Nikilkumar (Nikhil) Patel, 54, he touched her inappropriately on several occasions.

The woman said that she  immediately got up from the dentist chair and left the office, police said. The sexual assault unit was sent to meet with the woman and, after that meeting, went to the office of Dr. Patel.

After the brief meeting, they took him into custody.

According to Boston.com,   Dr. Patel was charged with indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14.

He was arraigned yesterday at Worcester District Court.

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I know that I had said that my very next blog was going to be Part Two of our discussion on sexual crimes.  Apparently, an interloper posted a non-Attorney Sam’s Take blog in between.  However, as promised, it is a new day and we now continue our discussion.

At 18 years of age, James Murphy, a freshman football player at Curry College learned some of the criminal justice pitfalls one can encounter when accused of the sexual assault of another student.

The allegations came this past October. Mr. Murphy was held on bail after he was arrested. He was arraigned on three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older and one count each of accosting or annoying someone of the opposite sex and possession of amphetamines.

Naturally, Mr. Murphy is presumed innocent, even while held in custody, and the allegations are now part of his criminal record.

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You know, it is not only Massachusetts folks that this warning should awaken.

For example, take a certain young couple from North Carolina, although I have handled a number of similar matters here in the Commonwealth.

The Washington Post tells us of a young couple (hereinafter The “Juveniles”) who were prosecuted for making and distributing child pornography.

Of themselves!

The case actually ended up in convictions. A public uproar resulted. I would imagine that the Juveniles felt that the uproar would have been better if it had happened before they were facing jail

Unfortunately, the fact that the general population, or the defendants themselves, do not know the law is no defense. Therefore, it is vital that you know the law… at least well enough to protect you and yours.

Let’s discuss a few examples.

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When we left off in my last blog, I told you that there were various issues worth discussing in the case of Timothy Cyckowski, the, now, 19-year-old male from Saugus who has been charged and convicted for activities involving recording, displaying and encouraging a sexual assault of a drunk minor.

Certain aspects of the case will come as no surprise to any regular reader of this blog.

As you no doubt remember, creating any photograph or video depicting sexual acts, or nudity, involving someone under the age of 18 (even if the activity depicted does not involve an assault) is illegal. It is the creation of child pornography. Possessing the material is possession of child pornography and disseminating it is the dissemination of child pornography.

All very serious charges in their own right.
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We all know that participating in a sexual assault is illegal. In fact, if you are a joint venturer with someone who is involved with sexual assault, you may be held to be as guilty as the actual assailant, even if you never touch the victim.

In Lynn, we just had a fairly interesting case that takes it to a step further. It also combines sexual assault with crimes involving child pornography.

Timothy Cyckowski is a 19-year-old young man from Saugus. He is also hereinafter, the, “Defendant”. On Monday, he pleaded guilty to sharing on the social network Snapchat a video which depicted what is described as the sexual assault of an intoxicated 16-year-old girl.

At the hearing in Lynn Juvenile Court, the Essex County District Attorney’s office explains, the Defendant has admitted his role in sharing the video. He had been accused of recording the attack. He pleaded guilty to posing a child in the nude, dissemination of obscene material, and kidnapping.

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