Massachusetts criminal defense Attorney Blog
Aggressive Defense of All Criminal Matters
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Probation Violation

In Massachusetts, probation violation hearings differ significantly from trials and some other proceedings in criminal cases. The Supreme Judicial Court made clear in Commonwealth v. Durling, 407 Mass. 108 (1990) that probation violation proceedings do not afford to the defendant the same protections as one gets at trial. One thing that was unclear until recently was whether or not a probationer has the right to confrontation at a probation violation hearing. Following the decision in a recent SJC case, Commonwealth v. Hartfield, the answer is seeming yes. The facts of that case and its holding are explored below. Continue reading →

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Heroin Trafficking Lawrence Massachusetts

Heroin Trafficking

Late last week I got a call from a new client greatly concerned because he had just been arrested and charged with heroin trafficking in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The man was at an apartment in Lawrence apparently looking for some heroin to satisfy his habit. Several other customers were there as well. While buying a small quantity of the drug several law enforcement officials entered the home pursuant to a search warrant. A search revealed in excess of two hundred grams of heroin, an amount consistent with trafficking. Everyone present was arrested and charged with trafficking heroin. Continue reading →

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Domestic Assault and Battery

Over the years I have defended scores of people falsely accused of domestic assault and battery in Massachusetts. Many of these claims were made to gain an advantage in a collateral legal proceeding such as a divorce or a child custody dispute. Other times the claims originated when a scorned partner wanted to exact revenge on his or her significant other. Recently I have seen another trend. People living in this country illegally are abusing a policy of refusing to deport victims of domestic assault and battery. From a criminal defense perspective these cases are extremely difficult to defend. This post examines one such scenario and potential defenses to alleged violations of G.L. c. 265 Section 13M. Continue reading →

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Destruction of Evidence in Criminal Cases

For nearly three decades I have been defending people accused of committing crimes. I have spent thousands of hours in courtrooms arguing on behalf of my clients and listening to hundreds of criminal defense attorneys fighting for their clients. One of the more common motions filed and argued in criminal cases is a motion for the preservation of evidence. Judges typically allow these motions and direct the district attorney to reach out to the person or entity in possession of the evidence to make sure they don’t dispose of the item. Unfortunately, all too often the evidence gets destroyed. Destruction of evidence in criminal cases is usually deemed “inadvertent”. There is rarely a consequence to the prosecution. Perhaps now that is changing. Continue reading →

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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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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 →