One of the toughest decisions defendants in criminal cases have to make is whether or not to go to trial on their case. Some people have no choice. They have been charged with a crime where there is a minimum mandatory sentence as with drug trafficking cases and the district attorney refuses to break the case down. Or, perhaps the case is one that cannot be continued without a finding and a guilty finding will result in a loss of employment or the loss of a professional license. In those instances the decision is easy. Go to trial and hope for an acquittal. Most of the time however the decision is not that easy and the defendant has to weigh the pros and cons of going to trial. When my clients consult with me about this decision the one question they always ask “will my sentence by worse if I go to trial and lose?”.
A local drug task force involving federal authorities, local cops and the state police resulted in significant charges for four Boston natives. Local reports state that two days ago, detectives armed with a search warrant entered a warehouse in an industrial park in Avon, Massachusetts. Pallets inside of the warehouse containing corn also contained over 1,000 pounds of marijuana. In addition to finding drugs the police also found two loaded firearms. Four people were arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana and possession of a handgun. The defendants have been identified as Sheena Hamilton, Jett Ezidi, Donnelly Ray and Stephan Durrant. Bails ranged from seven thousand five hundred dollars to twenty five thousand dollars.
There are times when I am sitting in court waiting for a case to get called and wondering where my client is. Some of these folks are just late people. Others get lost on their way to court. Some think that court starts at 9:30 or 10:00. Then there are people who have personal matters such as child care conflicts. And others simply get the court date wrong or forget to show up. If my client lets me know that he or she will be late I can usually get a second call and avoid the entry of a default. Some judges will even give me a new date if my client had a legitimate problem that prevented attendance in court. However, absent a good excuse prosecutors will request and judges will enter a default. This can result in the issuance of a bench warrant or a default warrant. This prompts a question that I get several times each month, that being “what should I do if I missed my court date?”.
According to an article in the Boston Globe police in Andover, Massachusetts made three arrests following an investigation into drug trafficking activities in the suburban Boston town. Joselin Eliezar Reina-Mercedes, Luz Made and Luis Hiciano were present at Hiciano’s apartment when an early morning search warrant was executed. Pursuant to the search officers found over 100 grams of heroin. Hiciano was charged with gun possession as well. If convicted the defendants face a minimum mandatory ten year state prison sentence. This Andover drug trafficking investigation is one of several in this town this year. Continue reading →
Just yesterday I signed up a client being charged with malicious destruction to property over $250. This is a felony in Massachusetts. The allegations, at least according to the cab driver are that the passenger disputed the fare and refused to pay. Out of anger the passenger supposedly then broke a piece of the interior of the door. The cab driver called the police and the defendant was arrested. In the past year alone I have had several people meet with me for representation on cases with very similar facts. There is no doubt in my mind that in Massachusetts there is a trend where cab drivers falsify claims of malicious destruction to property. The motivation for this and defenses to the chargers are explored in this post.
Anytime a criminal defense lawyer gets a police report and sees that his client allegedly confessed to a crime a red flag goes up. Was the confession made voluntarily? Was it recorded? How long did the interrogation last? What promises or inducements did the police make that prompted the defendant to tell them what they wanted to hear? Was the accused impaired by alcohol or drugs? Finally, does the defendant speak English and if not was an interpreter present for the interrogation. This post examines one of my recent cases where the defendant supposedly confessed to a rape and our approach to challenging criminal confessions in Massachusetts.
Just recently a former client called me with a new problem. He was driving on a residential street and saw a police officer he believed to be the same officer who arrested him several years ago. Even though he was acquitted of the crime, a drug distribution offense, he still harbored animosity towards the arresting officer. So, seeing this officer he did what most people wouldn’t have done. He gave him the middle finger. And guess what? He received a summons in the mail charging him with disorderly person. This incident prompted me to write about what happens if you give a cop the middle finger in Massachusetts.
Not unlike most Sundays I woke up yesterday to several find messages on my cell phone from perspective clients who are in need of criminal legal representation in court today. Someone needed a lawyer for a domestic assault and battery case out of Lowell. Another person wanted to hire me for a cocaine possession charge out of Plymouth. Someone else needs help for an OUI arrest from Saturday night in Woburn. This is all typical for a Sunday morning. There was however something unusual my answering service sent me. A client who was served with a restraining order ten days ago has a hearing in Lynn District Court tomorrow. This prompted me to blog about why waiting until the last minute to hire a criminal lawyer is not a good idea.
At least once a week a potential client will come into my office to discuss a pending case and conclude the conversation by asking me what guarantees I can give him. My answer is the same each time. There are no guarantees in this business. There are times when lawyers, based on their experience have a pretty good idea how a case will resolve and may share these experiences with perspective clients. But lets face it. No one knows for sure how any case will end up. This post examines how good lawyers manage client expectations in criminal cases and what to watch out for when deciding who to hire to defend you.
Motions in limine are requests brought by the parties and decided by a judge that determine what evidence might be admitted or excluded at trial. These motions are usually filed prior to trial or on the day of trial however they can be presented at any time. Motions in limine are typically brief and concise in form. Some criminal defense lawyers believe that motions in limine are the most important part of trial preparation. This post takes a look at this aspect of criminal trial practice.