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.

In Massachusetts, getting charged with a firearms or weapons offense is serious business. MA is exceedingly tough when it comes to gun laws. This is for obvious reasons; misuse of guns can quickly and easily lead to serious injuries and death. If you have been charged with any type of firearms or weapons offense, it is in your best interest to contact a MA criminal defense attorney immediately. Don’t take these charges lightly; this is not the time to hire a cut-rate lawyer or attempt to represent yourself.

Gun Controversy

Gun laws have been surrounded by controversy for years, and the issue isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. The 2nd Amendment does, indeed, guarantee the right to bear arms, but individual states can regulate use. Massachusetts criminalizes many weapons-related actions, from carrying weapons deemed excessively dangerous to using a silencer. Read on for more information about weapons laws and how they can impact you.

What is a “Dangerous” Weapon?

You can be charged with carrying a dangerous weapon for multiple reasons. Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, you can end up behind bars for more than two-and-a-half years if you’re convicted of this offense. You may be facing these charges for:

  • Possession of a machine gun
  • Possession of a sawed-off shotgun
  • Possession of brass knuckles, throwing stars, or nunchucks
  • Having any type of firearm in your vehicle without the proper permit

Silencers

Silencers muffle the sound of a gunshot. In MA, it is illegal to sell, use, or possess a silencer. If you are found in violation of this law, you may be facing felony charges.

Carrying a Loaded Gun While Intoxicated

It is a felony to carry a loaded firearm while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or narcotics. If you are facing charges for this type of offense, contact a County gun crimes lawyer today.

Carrying a Shotgun or Rifle on Public Grounds

If you are caught carrying one of these types of firearms on public grounds, such as a sidewalk or street, you can face up to two years in prison, if it’s loaded. If the weapon happens to be a loaded “large capacity weapon”, which refers to a semiautomatic weapon with a capacity for multiple rounds, you may be looking at a sentence of up to 10 years. If it’s unloaded, you may be let off with a fine.

Committing a Felony While in Possession of a Firearm

Committing a felony is bad. Committing a felony while you have a gun in your pocket is even worse. For a first offense, you will likely receive a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. Second and subsequent offenses carry a minimum of 20 years in prison. And this is in addition to penalties associated with the underlying felony. Bottom line – don’t commit a felony, and definitely don’t commit a felony while carrying a gun. read more

Oh the weather outside is frightful…and so is the nationwide uptick in crime during the holiday season. But it shouldn’t be a surprise. Most holiday crimes are related to theft or excessive alcohol. Theft is often a result of a lack of funds for Christmas presents or the knowledge that cars and houses are loaded with aforementioned presents. And alcohol-related crimes are often a result of too much holiday partying. Either way, it’s good to know how to safeguard yourself this December. And if you happen to be the one facing criminal charges this holiday season, contact a skilled defense lawyer if you want to avoid jail time and hefty fines.

  • Shoplifting: The most obvious reason for an increase in shoplifting during the holiday season is lack of funds. We are under more pressure than ever to surround the Christmas tree with boxes and boxes of holiday cheer. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford such a display. For this reason, among others, some people turn to shoplifting around the holidays. Theft is never “right”, but we understand that even good people make mistakes, especially when financial stress is particularly overwhelming. If you are facing shoplifting charges, contact a County defense lawyer today.
  • Vehicle break-ins: For much the same reason as shoplifting increases during the holidays, so do vehicle break-ins. Car burglars expect to find gifts in cars. This is especially true of cars parked near shopping centers. Parking lot thieves will often watch for people who drop a load of purchases in their car and walk back to the store to finish shopping.
  • Porch theft: Since Amazon and other online shopping sites first allowed us to spend more time at home in our pajamas, porch theft has skyrocketed. Many of our online orders are delivered by UPS, FedEx, or the US Postal Service while we’re at work during the day. A stack of boxes by the front door and no car in the driveway makes you an easy target this holiday season. To prevent porch pirates from ruining your Christmas, have packages delivered to work or to the residence of a friend who is home during the day.
  • Drunk driving: The holiday season often feels like one never-ending party. Many families have two or more office parties, family parties, parties at friend’s houses, fundraisers, and other festive gatherings to attend during Christmas and New Years. Although good friends and good eggnog can make for a lovely evening, don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve had a few drinks. To protect yourself and everyone else on the road, don’t drink and drive, and have a designated driver if you opt for too much cheer this holiday season. Beyond being dangerous, driving while intoxicated can impact your current or future employment, and even a first offense can cost you thousands of dollars. Not to mention, nobody wants to get an OUI for Christmas.

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Let’s start with how burglary, robbery, and theft are the same. They are all commonly associated with the unlawful taking of another’s property. Theft and robbery do, in fact, always involve this scenario, or an attempt at this scenario. However, burglary doesn’t necessarily involve theft, or even attempted theft. Burglary basically refers to the unlawful breaking and entering of another person’s property with the intent to commit a crime. If you’re facing any of the above charges, contact a County defense lawyer today.

  • Theft: Also known as larceny, and petty or grand theft, this is one of the most commonly committed criminal offenses in the United States. Theft is loosely defined as the taking of another’s property without consent. To constitute theft, the individual must have also intended to permanently deprive the owner of this possession. Therefore, a neighbor who “borrows” your lawnmower to mow his lawn while you’re at work, without your consent, is not likely to be charged with theft. You might be angry about this unapproved loan, but it’s not an act of theft.
  • Robbery: The simplest way to explain robbery is to describe it as “theft by force.” Robbery also involves the unlawful taking of another’s property without their consent, and with the intent to permanently deprive them of their possession. However, to be robbery, the property must be taken by force. Consider the following two scenarios, for example: If someone steals your purse from your car while you’re in the store, it’s an act of theft, not robbery. But if someone points a gun at you and demands you hand over your purse, it’s an act of robbery. Even if there is no physical contact and no weapon in sight, an act of theft can still be robbery if the there is a threat of physical violence. Therefore, although robbery is considered a violent crime, no injuries have to be suffered for a robbery conviction to occur.
  • Burglary: The least understood of the three, burglary involves entering a dwelling or structure with the intent to commit a crime in that dwelling or structure. You don’t even have to commit a crime to be convicted; the prosecution just has to show that you intended to commit a crime. Breaking into a structure with the intent to commit a crime is burglary. The structure doesn’t have to be a home, either; it can be a tent, or even a cave. You don’t need to break in using force to commit a burglary; crawling through an already open window can be burglary if all other factors are present. Furthermore, you don’t need to fully enter a structure to be convicted of burglary. If, for example, you reach your arm through an open window and steal a purse, you may be convicted of burglary.

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A wrongful act that is punishable by law is called a crime. Although types and frequency of crime vary widely from place to place, nationwide statistics provide a clearer picture of which criminal offenses are most common in the United States. According to the most recent FBI report, the six most common crimes, in order, are property crimes, drug violations, alcohol-related crimes, violent crimes, and disorderly conduct. Read on for more information about these crimes and what types of behavior they encompass. If you are facing criminal charges, contact a County defense lawyer today.

Property crimes:

These types of crimes are typically centered around a property, not a person. For example, theft is a property crime because it involves taking another person’s property without the person’s consent, but robbery – which is another form of theft – is a violent crime because it involves physical harm or threats. Property crimes include:

  • Burglary: Unlawful breaking and entering
  • Larceny-theft: Unlawful taking of property from another’s possession, such as pickpocketing
  • Motor vehicle theft: Taking or attempting to take a motor vehicle from its owner
  • Arson: Willfully burning a property – including your own – with malicious intent

Drug abuse and related offenses: These offenses include unlawful use or possession of illegal drugs, or the manufacture and sale of narcotic drugs. The most common drugs involved in drug abuse violations are cocaine, opium, marijuana (although this becomes legal in MA on December 15, 2016), and synthetic narcotics. Nonnarcotic drugs, such as barbiturates, can also result in drug violations under certain circumstances. If you are facing drug charges, contact a County drug defense lawyer today.

Crimes involving alcohol:  These include operating under the influence (OUI), illegal behavior as a consequence of drunkenness (bar fights, public urination), and the violation of state or local liquor laws.

Violent crimes: If the crime involves causing physical harm to another, making a threat of physical harm to another, or attempting to cause physical harm to another, it is considered a violent crime. Violent crimes include murder, manslaughter, robbery, forcible rape, and some types of child abuse and elder abuse.

Disorderly conduct: When your actions result in a public disturbance but present no serious danger to the public, you may be arrested for disorderly conduct. Also known as “disturbing the peace”, disorderly conduct includes screaming obscenities in a public place, shouting late at night, and fighting that doesn’t result in serious injuries. Alcohol is often a factor in disorderly conduct cases.

Fraud: When a person or entity misrepresents certain information so that another person responds to that information in a specific way, it is known as fraud. Typically, the misrepresentation results in the victim’s financial loss. Examples of fraud include identity theft and various kinds of scams. If you’ve been charged with committing fraud, contact a MA defense lawyer today. read more

A wrongful act that is punishable by law is called a crime. Although types and frequency of crime vary widely from place to place, nationwide statistics provide a clearer picture of which criminal offenses are most common in the United States. According to the most recent FBI report, the six most common crimes, in order, are property crimes, drug violations, alcohol-related crimes, violent crimes, and disorderly conduct. Read on for more information about these crimes and what types of behavior they encompass. If you are facing criminal charges, contact a County defense lawyer today.

Property crimes:

These types of crimes are typically centered around a property, not a person. For example, theft is a property crime because it involves taking another person’s property without the person’s consent, but robbery – which is another form of theft – is a violent crime because it involves physical harm or threats. Property crimes include:

  • Burglary: Unlawful breaking and entering
  • Larceny-theft: Unlawful taking of property from another’s possession, such as pickpocketing
  • Motor vehicle theft: Taking or attempting to take a motor vehicle from its owner
  • Arson: Willfully burning a property – including your own – with malicious intent

Drug abuse and related offenses: These offenses include unlawful use or possession of illegal drugs, or the manufacture and sale of narcotic drugs. The most common drugs involved in drug abuse violations are cocaine, opium, marijuana (although this becomes legal in MA on December 15, 2016), and synthetic narcotics. Nonnarcotic drugs, such as barbiturates, can also result in drug violations under certain circumstances. If you are facing drug charges, contact a County drug defense lawyer today.

Crimes involving alcohol:  These include operating under the influence (OUI), illegal behavior as a consequence of drunkenness (bar fights, public urination), and the violation of state or local liquor laws.

Violent crimes: If the crime involves causing physical harm to another, making a threat of physical harm to another, or attempting to cause physical harm to another, it is considered a violent crime. Violent crimes include murder, manslaughter, robbery, forcible rape, and some types of child abuse and elder abuse.

Disorderly conduct: When your actions result in a public disturbance but present no serious danger to the public, you may be arrested for disorderly conduct. Also known as “disturbing the peace”, disorderly conduct includes screaming obscenities in a public place, shouting late at night, and fighting that doesn’t result in serious injuries. Alcohol is often a factor in disorderly conduct cases.

Fraud: When a person or entity misrepresents certain information so that another person responds to that information in a specific way, it is known as fraud. Typically, the misrepresentation results in the victim’s financial loss. Examples of fraud include identity theft and various kinds of scams. If you’ve been charged with committing fraud, contact a MA defense lawyer today. read more

If you had a few drinks, you shouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel…but you did. Now you see blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. What do you do? The good news is, you were stopped before anyone was seriously injured. The bad news is, you may be charged with operating under the influence (OUI). There are certain steps you can take during the stop and investigation to increase your chance of a more favorable outcome. Read on for information on what to do in this situation.

First things first, in the future, do not get behind the wheel if there’s any chance you might be impaired. In MA, a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or above is over the legal limit for driving. For many people, two drinks can put them over the legal limit. If you have been charged with OUI, contact a County defense lawyer today.

Know that, if you get stopped, it is the law enforcement officer’s duty to investigate the scene. If he or she believes you may be intoxicated, a criminal investigation may ensue. As such, law enforcement will be gathering evidence from the start. Anything you say or do, along with physical evidence, such as a half-empty beer bottle, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or the smell of alcohol on your breath, can be used against you. Therefore, it is crucial that you do not provide more evidence than is absolutely necessary. While bloodshot eyes and an odor of alcohol are difficult to hide, you can refuse to answer certain questions.

If you have been charged with drug possession, the fines and punishment you are facing will depend on multiple factors. The main considerations will be the class of the drug in question, the amount of the drug in your possession, and what you intended to do with it. If you are only charged with possession, for example, the penalties and fines will likely be much less than if you are charged with possession with intent to distribute. If you are facing drug charges, contact a County drug possession defense lawyer today.

Drug Classes

In Massachusetts, drugs are categorized by type and class. The current classifications are:

  • Class A: Heroin and opiates such as Morphine, and certain “designer drugs”, including Ketamine (Special K).
  • Class B: Cocaine, MDMA and Ecstasy, LSD (acid), Amphetamines (speed), Crystal Meth, PCP, Methadone, and some prescription opiates such as Oxycontin and Percocet.
  • Class C: Prescription narcotics and tranquilizers such as Valium and Hydrocodone, some hallucinogenic substances, including mushrooms and peyote.
  • Class D: Phenobarbital, and small doses of certain prescription narcotics. Marijuana was previously also a Class D drug, but effective December 15, 2016, adults can possess and use marijuana in MA.
  • Class E: Very light doses of some prescription narcotics, such as codeine (Tylenol #3).

Cocaine

If you are facing cocaine possession charges, you may find yourself behind bars for up to one year and with a fine of up to $1000, if this is your first offense. In addition, you may lose your license for up to one year. If, however, you are charged with possession with intent to distribute, the penalty is a two-and-a-half year jail sentence and a fine of at least $1,000, up to $10,000. If this is your second or subsequent offense for possession with intent to distribute, you may face a mandatory three year prison sentence, up to $25,000 in fines, and a mandatory three-year loss of your license.

Heroin

A first time heroin possession conviction carries a penalty of not more than two years in jail and a fine of not more than $2,000. Possession with intent to distribute charges bring more severe penalties; up to 10 years in a state prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for a first offense. A second offense can land you in prison for up to 15 years, with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

Defenses

Multiple defenses exist in drug possession cases, including those that involve an intent to distribute. Drug cases are typically based on physical evidence found during a search of your home, car, or person. Police are just as prone to mistakes as other human beings. If any rules were broken during the search, the error may work in your favor. Were your constitutional rights violated? If proper guidelines weren’t followed, evidence may not be admissible. This often results in a reduction in charges, or the charges being dropped altogether. A skilled criminal defense attorney will review the evidence to ensure that protocol was followed to a “T”. If anything during the arrest or investigation seems amiss, an experienced attorney will use it to your advantage. Contact a County criminal defense lawyer today. read more

If you open the mailbox to find a criminal citation staring back at you, it’s important to act quickly. If the criminal box is checked, you have been charged with a criminal offense. Although you are not technically under arrest, this type of citation is still a criminal accusation. Criminal citations can be sent in the mail or hand delivered by a law enforcement officer.  Criminal citations can be issued for multiple misdemeanor offenses, including leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving, operating under the influence (OUI), driving on a suspended license, and even assault.

What is the Next Step?

Step one is to read the back of the citation. You will have four business days to complete the form and mail back to the court specified on the citation. Mail it to the physical address on the front of the citation, NOT the PO Box. You can also deliver it in person.  If the court doesn’t receive your completed form within the four-day window, they may cut you a break. But not always. If you don’t send in the citation at all, you will be automatically charged with a crime. You will receive a notice to appear at an arraignment. If you don’t appear at the arraignment, a warrant for your arrest will be issued.

What Happens After I Return the Completed Citation?

Once the court has received your completed form,  you wait. Within a relatively short period of time, you will receive notification of a court date. This initial hearing is called a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing. The prosecuting officer will present evidence to the magistrate. If the magistrate believes there is sufficient evidence to issue a complaint, the case will move forward. With the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, you may avoid charges altogether. If a criminal complaint is not issued, the charge will effectively disappear. In short, you won’t have a criminal record…at least not for this particular incident. Contact a County defense lawyer today.

Do I Need a Lawyer at a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing?

Although you don’t technically need to have a lawyer present at the clerk magistrate’s hearing, it is highly recommended to have legal representation. Without an attorney, your chance of success is limited. If the complaint gets issued, the case will move to an arraignment and pretrial. At that time, you will either move forward with a trial or attempt to negotiate a plea deal. All is not lost if you are unsuccessful at the clerk magistrate’s hearing. Even if the complaint is issued, multiple opportunities to get charges reduced or dismissed are still available. If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in MA, contact a County defense lawyer today. read more

The Netflix series “Making a Murderer” aired earlier this year and quickly became one of the pioneering network’s most popular documentaries. The series centered around the 2007 sexual assault and murder of a photographer, and the possible framing of several individuals. One of those individuals, then-16-year-old Brendan Dassey, was questioned without a lawyer present and was later convicted for the murder, along with another man. In August, federal judge, William E. Duffin, overturned Dassey’s conviction. Although the ruling overturned the conviction, Wisconsin’s attorney general, Brad Shimel, has appealed the ruling. However, as of Monday, a federal judge allowed Dassey to go free during the appeal.

Critics of Dassey’s conviction argue that he was mentally unfit and was coerced into a false confession. Furthermore, they claim that his court-appointed lawyer did not have his best interests in mind. Prosecutors allege that Dassey, together with his uncle Steven Avery, sexually assaulted, murdered, and then mutilated the corpse of 25-year-old photographer, Teresa Halbach. The murder and the investigation that followed made for good television, but for the people involved, including the victim’s family, it is an ongoing source of pain and unanswered questions. Contact a County criminal defense lawyer today if you are facing charges for a criminal offense.

Why is Dassey Being Released During the Appeal?

According to the ruling, Dassey’s “prison disciplinary record is exceedingly benign,” and the authorities have been unable “to demonstrate that Dassey represents a present danger to the community.” Overall, Dassey’s prison record shows him as a cooperative inmate with the need for minimal supervision. In layman’s terms, he is not a flight risk and presents little to no danger to others. The terms of his release include the following; he must remain in Wisconsin’s Eastern District at all times, he cannot possess weapons, controlled substances, or a passport, and he cannot make contact with Steve Avery or the victim’s family. Probation officers will also monitor Dassey for an indefinite amount of time.

Although the Netflix series raised questions that both Dassey and Avery were framed by law enforcement officials, the show may have led viewers astray. According to Ken Kratz, the former district attorney for Calumet County, Wisconsin, the show did not reveal important evidence used to convict the men. The show “really presents misinformation,” said Kratz. Whether Dassey gets to remain a free man is up to the courts to decide, but this case is a perfect illustration of the importance of a good lawyer when facing criminal charges. If you’ve been charged with any type of crime, contact a County criminal defense lawyer today. read more

There are multiple reasons for getting your license suspended, from unpaid parking tickets to excessive moving violations, neither of which is a criminal offense. But if you made the decision to drive during your license suspension, you may be facing criminal charges in Massachusetts. Even quick runs to the store or to pick up a friend are not a safe bet on a suspended license. You can be stopped for multiple reasons, even without a moving violation. In addition, law enforcement has a tool called an automatic license plate reader (ALPR) that can read your license plate and determine license status and car ownership.

If you are facing criminal charges for driving on a suspended license, you may be worried about potential penalties and fines, including an extended suspension and possible jail time. These are very real possibilities, but with the help of a skilled County criminal defense attorney, you have the best chance of a positive outcome. Saying you didn’t know your license was suspended is not a good defense. However, it is possible to miss a notification. If the judge believes you are sincere, your chances of avoiding further penalties is significantly improved.

What are the Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License?

The type and severity of the penalties you face depends on several factors, such as whether this is your first offense. If this is the first time you’ve been charged with driving on a suspended license, you may face fines of up to $500 and jail time of up to 10 days. If this is your second or subsequent offense, you may spend up to a year behind bars. In addition, the reason that your license was suspended in the first place may affect your charges. For example, if your suspension was due to driving under the influence, a mandatory 60-day jail sentence will follow.

Driving on a Revoked License

If your license was permanently revoked and you got caught driving, the charges may be far more serious. In most cases, you will face a mandatory jail sentence. In all 50 states, your driver’s license can be revoked for multiple DUI convictions, and for the accumulation of a certain number of “countable” violations. Your driver’s license can also be revoked for driving on a suspended license. The violations below can result in a license revocation, but the first offense typically only results in a suspension:

  • Driving under the influence (alcohol or drugs)
  • Leaving the scene of an accident where injuries are involved
  • Failure to respond to a traffic summons
  • Reckless driving
  • Drag racing

If you have been charged any of the violations above, contact a County defense attorney today. read more

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