Massachusetts criminal defense Attorney Blog
Aggressive Defense of All Criminal Matters
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Inventory Search

Last month the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a trial judge’s decision to suppress evidence unlawfully obtained in the course of an inventory search. In Commonwealth v. Oliveira, decided March 28, 2016 the Court found it unreasonable for the police to conduct an inventory search after the operator was arrested for shoplifting and the operator gave the police a practical alternative to impounding the car. In addition to shoplifting, the defendants in this case were charged with carrying a firearm in violation of G.L. c. 269 Section 10(a) and possession of ammunition, a violation of G.L. c. 269 Section 10(h). Both the weapon and the ammunition were suppressed. This will likely result in a dismissal of those charges. Continue reading →

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Withdrawing Guilty Pleas and Vacating Convictions

Nearly thirty years ago, when I first started practicing law it was rare to have a client ask me to help him withdraw a guilty plea. Case law in that area had not been well developed. Access to criminal convictions was limited. Deportation, denial of naturalization or exclusion from admission to this country was not what it is now. That has all changed dramatically in the past decade. Criminal history databases are much more sophisticated. Employers and the government can more easily find out that someone has a record. So now, many times each month I get inquiries from people in need of withdrawing guilty pleas and vacating convictions. Continue reading →

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The 5th Amendment: Why A... "Don't Talk To Police"

You Do Not Have To Talk To A Police Officer

Here is a very common scenario. Someone calls me up for “advice”. They tell me that the police want to talk to them about an incident. I ask them to tell me what happened. Don’t sugar coat it. Just tell me what happened. They often give a very abridged version of the event. The advice is almost always going to be the same. Don’t talk to the cops. Instead, hire a lawyer to protect you. Sometimes they respond by saying “yeah, but I didn’t do anything”. Maybe that’s true however the fact that you are calling a lawyer to see if you should talk to the police tells me something in and of itself. Keep this advice in mind. You do not have to talk to a police officer. Continue reading →

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How Can I Prove Someone is Lying at My Trial?

Central to almost every criminal case is the issue of credibility. The defense is almost always challenging the testimony of a police officer, an expert witness or an eye witness to a crime. Not every alleged crime is caught on tape. Sometimes the defense and the district attorney have to rely on witnesses to establish and prove their cases. One of the most common questions I get from prospective clients is how can I prove someone is lying at my trial? Continue reading →

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Got privilege[4]

The Marital Privilege in Massachusetts

G.L. c. 233 Section 20 sets out the parameters of the marital privilege in Massachusetts. The law states that with limited exception no spouse will be compelled to testify against the other at trial. This does not mean that a defendant in a criminal case can prevent his or her spouse from testifying at trial. Rather, the privilege lies with the witness alone. The marital privilege is typically used in domestic assault and battery cases. In these instances, the “victim” spouse invokes the privilege in court. The victim will be questioned by the judge to determine whether the privilege is being asserted voluntarily. Once the judge recognizes the privilege that spouse is excused from having to testify at trial. Continue reading →

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Attorneys Defend Rape Allegations in Massachusetts

One of the most heinous accusations you can face in the Massachusetts criminal courts is an allegation of rape. Virtually everyone who reads about or hears about a rape complaint initially believes that the accusation is true and that the accused is dangerous. Few are immune from this sentiment. Most judges, hearing about a particular allegation for the first time, are inclined to set a high bail. In addition, it is common for such order of bail, if posted, to be accompanied by a curfew, or home confinement and almost always the installation of a GPS device. So, for the defendant, perhaps in these cases more than any other, an uphill battle begins day one. This post discusses a few of the ways in which attorneys defend rape allegations in Massachusetts. Continue reading →

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Why Some Massachusetts Judges Delay Dangerousness Hearings

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 276 Section 58A permits the district attorney to move for detention if the defendant is charged with a felony that has an element of physical force or a threat thereof to an individual. Some Massachusetts district attorneys offices have a policy requiring their assistants to move for detention under this statute for any case involving the alleged use of a firearm, domestic assault and battery or intimidation of a witness. They often do this without regard to the plausibility of the underlying allegations. Prosecutors rarely take the time to investigate the allegations before requesting detention. Instead they rely on what has become an improperly applied nuance to the law; G.L. c. 276 Section 58A(4). This post examines why some Massachusetts judges delay dangerousness hearings and what can be done to avoid unnecessary detention. Continue reading →

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Clerk Magistrate Hearing

Over the years I have repeated my strong belief that you need a lawyer at any criminal proceeding in Massachusetts courts. Recently this sentiment became apparent to one of my clients who questioned the need for legal representation at a clerk magistrate hearing. He really thought that he could handle a particular situation on his own and soon realized that proceeding that way would be a major mistake. This post discusses aspects of that case with an emphasis on the importance of being properly represented in a criminal court proceeding. Continue reading →

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You Need a Lawyer for a Restraining Order Hearing

Criminal defense lawyers in Massachusetts spend lots of time sitting in courtrooms waiting for their client’s cases to be called. The time is often occupied by conferencing cases with the assigned district attorney, reading the advance sheets and chatting with colleagues. Somedays, like today, I find myself watching and listening to the cases that are being heard before mine. One of these cases reinforced my strong belief that you need a lawyer for a restraining order hearing. Here is why. Continue reading →

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Diversion Instead of Prosecution of Drug Possession

At least one Massachusetts district attorney seems to understand that not everyone who possesses drugs or commits crimes as a result of drug addiction needs to be prosecuted and treated like a criminal. The Essex County District Attorney’s Office frequently utilizes a decade old treatment program to educate, rehabilitate and forgive select offenders rather than forcing them to defend criminal charges. In that county, diversion instead of prosecution of drug possession charges is the preferred course of action for select crimes. Aspects of the program from a criminal defense perspective are discussed in this article. Continue reading →