tedster - 11:34 pm on Oct 16, 2011 (gmt 0)
Yes - many of the characteristics I listed would be cause for a penalty. But I wouldn't just say it that way - "don't link to a penalized website" - because what people are calling "a penalty" is often not something Google thinks of as a penalty.
One key word here is "neighborhood". That's usually more than a single website - but you might link to just one site that is using "black hat" methods to promote itself, so it might be in a bad neighborhood once Google identifies its methods.
Still, you're not going to get into trouble by linking to just a couple sites that turn bad.