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.
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 →
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.
Recently, police officers in Massachusetts have been building drug investigations based on leads from “concerned citizens”. These leads come in the form of formal complaints or tips. Some are anonymous. Sometimes the individual making the complaint is identified. Today, a local newspaper reported on one of these investigations taking place in Danvers shopping centers and malls. Apparently local citizens, possibly merchants had grown concerned about what they believed to be drug transactions in their parking lots. A local drug task force followed up on the leads. As a result, two Boston men were arrested for selling cocaine and charged with trafficking in the Salem District Court. Continue reading →
Today’s Metrowest Daily News reports that Massachusetts House of Representative leaders are considering a proposal that would increase the potential sentence of for heroin trafficking offenses. The suggested law is a reaction to the recent increase in heroin overdose deaths. This legislation would increase the maximum sentence that can be imposed on heroin dealers from twenty years in state prison to thirty years in state prison. Further details of the law were not discussed in the article. This post discusses this proposition. Continue reading →
Today’s Newburyport News reports that a two week long drug investigation has led to the arrest of two Amesbury, Massachusetts residents. Jesus Ruiz and Sandra Magrath were apparently present when officers raided their Whitehall Road home a couple of days ago. Both were charged with trafficking cocaine and a heroin related felony as well as conspiracy to violate the Massachusetts drug laws. None of the details of the investigation were disclosed however it has been reported that a related search of another home resulted in three more related drug arrests. The dearth of details here suggests the use of a confidential informant to provide information about how Magrath and Ruiz were operating. This post looks at the problems prosecutors often have winning cases where informants are used.
Here we go again. Police in Lawrence, Massachusetts see a car with Maine license plates. The car contained two female occupants later identified as Donna Jarvis and Tara Burton. The actions of the women suggested to the police that a drug deal was in the works. Another car arrived, in which the transfer of money for drugs took place. The vehicles separated and drove away. Both were stopped. The women from Maine were charged with possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and heroin. Both of these charges are felonies in Massachusetts. However, the facts of this case tell me that the cases against these two have been unfairly and that both should be charged with no more than possession. This post explores that sentiment. Continue reading →
A local newspaper reports that three individuals, one from Lawrence, Massachusetts, the other two from Maine, have been charged with various Massachusetts drug crimes involving heroin. Now had the folks from Maine read my blog or any criminal defense publications they might not be in trouble right now. The facts of this case are suspiciously familiar. The scenario seems to be reported weekly in the local papers. Here is what the cops say happened. An officer sees a car with Maine. An Hispanic male goes up to the passenger and hands her an item. The passenger is confronted by the police. She denies having any drugs. The driver apparently went into a gas station. When he comes out he is confronted by the police. He confesses to buying ten grams of heroin. All three, the driver, his passenger and the purported dealer are charged with possession of heroin and trafficking heroin. Here are my thoughts on this case: Continue reading →
An article I recently read in the Newburyport News once again got me thinking about traffic stops and probable cause. The defendant in this case, Luis Peguero was allegedly driving with headphones on. He was stopped. Police dispatchers provided information that Peguero had used an alias and had a criminal record. Consequently, his car was searched. Cocaine was found in a hide. The police found enough drugs to charge Peguero with trafficking cocaine in excess of one hundred grams. This post examines probable cause in the context of motor vehicle stops under the circumstances of this case.