The duty of the office of the district attorney in Massachusetts is not only to prosecute cases but to screen criminal allegations to determine if in fact a crime was committed. Sometimes this screening process fails. Young prosecutors ignorant of the law might pursue charges that are not sustainable by the evidence. Sometimes prosecutions are initiated recklessly without consideration of the truth of the allegations. Other times prosecutions that are not supported by the evidence are brought about through vindictiveness. Fortunately there is a rule of law that might be applicable in these instances that will exonerate the defendant notwithstanding the prosecutor’s efforts. This rule permits a judge to enter a required finding of not guilty and dismiss the charges.
Cocaine labs are rare in Massachusetts. By the time the drug makes it into the Commonwealth it has already been processed and often diluted with cutting agents. Large scale cocaine production efforts are typically performed in the countries where the drug originates, usually Colombia and Bolivia. Thus, we almost never see cocaine manufacturing charges here. Rather, possession, possession with intent, distribution and trafficking are the cocaine related crimes most frequently prosecuted. So it was quite surprising to pick up a newspaper and see that local police find a cocaine lab and arrest a 51 year old man. Continue reading →
Prosecutors in Massachusetts can understand that sometimes the lines between simple possession of drugs and possession with the intent to distribute drugs are blurred. Oftentimes those cases, if initially charged as “intent to distribute” cases will be reduced to simple possession. This usually occurs when the defense attorney convinces the district attorney that the defendant had a drug habit that consistent with the quantity of drugs found. Similarly, some drug trafficking cases are at times reduced to possession with intent cases when the quantity barely makes the trafficking threshold. Rarely however are trafficking cases broken down to possession cases. However, this is not necessarily always consistent with the interests. There are times when a drug trafficking charge should be reduced to a drug possession charge. Continue reading →
In previous blog posts and social media outlets I have written about the need to hire a criminal defense lawyer before charges are filed. Obviously not everybody reads my posts because I am retained on hundreds of criminal cases that might never have been filed otherwise. Once you think you might be charged with a crime it is imperative to contact an attorney. Here are some examples of cases that would never have been prosecuted had the defendant hired a lawyer prior to charges being filed.
A recent article in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune discussed some charges brought against a woman who allegedly allowed her husband to abuse her children. The Essex County District Attorney filed charges against Anne Ladd after her husband Justin had been indicted on forty-one crimes including sex crimes, violent crimes, criminal civil rights violations and more. Prosecutors maintain that Justin Ladd exposed his genitals to the girls, racially disparaged them, hit them, treated them like slaves and tortured them. Anne Ladd has publicly supported her husband and claimed that her daughters have fabricated the story. The district attorney’s investigation suggests otherwise and now Ms. Ladd has been charged with several crimes including the crime of permitting assault and battery on a child. This crime is not often charged in Massachusetts and is the primary subject of this article.
In an effort to address college rape and sexual assault claims the California legislature is honing in on some new laws focusing on consent. The law if passed will require that on all college campuses run by the state consent must be verbalized or written and obviously given in advance of the sexual activity. Consent cannot be assumed. While the details of the law are being debated it is agreed that “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silent mean consent”. Reading this law makes me wonder how long it will take before Massachusetts tries to tackle this issue. Continue reading →
Reading today’s Brockton Enterprise an article about certain Massachusetts drug crimes caught my eye. Three people, Jose, Evangelina and Kyle Rocha of Taunton were arrested after police charged them with secreting drugs in a condom and placing it in a housing complex where a prisoner on work detail was supposed to be cleaning. Police saw the suspects enter the housing development, enter a building and exit shortly thereafter. The officers searched a bathroom in that building and found the drugs. All three defendants have been charged with possession of drugs, drug conspiracy and conspiracy to deliver drugs to a prisoner. This article examines what happens if you smuggle drugs into a Massachusetts prison.
Everyone knows that it is a violation of your constitutional rights to be stopped without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Both the federal and Massachusetts constitutions give us that protection. So the thought process of many teenagers and young adults is simple. As long as I am following the rules, staying within the speed limit, obeying all traffic signals and driving safely I won’t get pulled over. Right? Guess again. That is completely wrong. Cops pull teenage drivers over in Massachusetts without probable cause countless times each day. This post examines why cops do this and how you, the young driver can avoid getting pulled over for no apparent reason.
I have a large number of clients who got to me through my website and one of my blogs. All of these properties make reference to remaining silent. I have posted countless times about the dangers of meeting with the police without having consulted with a lawyer. I have posted about this in social media. Every day I read at least one Google Plus post about someone who decided to meet with the cops rather than consult with a lawyer. Every time I read about this or hear about it one thing sticks out. The person who talked to the cops got charged with a crime and never would have had he remained silent. And again today, someone called me telling me that the police called them asking “me to go to the station to tell my side of the story”. My advise was simple don’t do it.
Most misdemeanors and some felonies are initially addressed in a clerk magistrate hearing. These proceedings are initiated through applications for complaints made to the criminal clerk’s office either by a civilian ore a police officer. The clerk’s office then issues a summons to the defendant indicating the charges being applied for and a date and time for a hearing. At this hearing the complaining party states his or her case against the accused. The person presenting the evidence can be a civilian or a police officer. The defendant can, if he wishes present a defense. The clerk magistrate hears the evidence and decides whether or not probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed and the accused is the person who committed the crime. If probable cause is found a complaint can issue. Most people who receive a criminal complaint application know this. So I am always baffled when people call and ask me if they need a lawyer for a clerk magistrate hearing.