Articles Posted in Search and Seizure

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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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Unlawful Detention and Interrogation

This past weekend I got a call from someone telling me that her cousin was involved in a motor vehicle accident where someone died. She was being held at one of the Boston police stations. The caller was clearly intelligent. Her cousin told her that she could not leave the police station. The caller then spoke with one of the detectives who told her that her cousin “was not in custody” but also that “she could not leave the station”. Another lawyer from my office called the police station and the detective told just what the caller had told me. This prompted me to write about the question: how long can the police hold someone if they are not under arrest. Continue reading →

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Texting and Driving in Massachusetts

Not too long ago Massachusetts enacted a law prohibiting texting and driving. The statute, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 13B has enables police officers to make motor vehicle stops that in the past would not have been considered lawful. There is however a silver lining for Massachusetts criminal defense attorneys challenging stops under this law. The statute is written in a way that makes it virtually impossible for a judge to sustain the stop if properly challenged through a motion to suppress. Here is why. Continue reading →

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Perhaps the most common complaint I get from clients about police officers involves stops, searches and seizures for apparently no reason. The client will tell me that he wasn’t doing anything and that the cops searched him anyway. Or someone might say that he was pulled over, removed from his car and that he and the car were searched. Now keep in mind none of these people would need my services unless the police found something during the illegal search that suggested a crime was committed. So the next question I get asked is “how can I prove that the police searched me for no reason?”. This article examines what criminal defense lawyers can do in these situations.

The Police Searched Me For No Reason

The Police Searched Me For No Reason

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Perhaps the most common complaint I get from clients about police officers involves stops, searches and seizures for apparently no reason. The client will tell me that he wasn’t doing anything and that the cops searched him anyway. Or someone might say that he was pulled over, removed from his car and that he and the car were searched. Now keep in mind none of these people would need my services unless the police found something during the illegal search that suggested a crime was committed. So the next question I get asked is “how can I prove that the police searched me for no reason?”. This article examines what criminal defense lawyers can do in these situations.

Massachusetts Search and Seizure Lawyer

Massachusetts Search and Seizure Lawyer

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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.

Fighting Illegal Stops in Massachusetts

Fighting Illegal Stops in Massachusetts

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Fighting Constitutional Rights Violations

Fighting Cops Who Violate Your Rights

Every criminal defense lawyer I know has tons of stories about how client’s constitutional rights were violated. Some involve motor vehicle stops for no reason. Others involve searches without warrants. Sometimes people are compelled or tricked into talking to the cops. The good news is that a significant number of these cases result in suppression of the fruits of the constitutional violation. That usually ends up in a dismissal of the case or a substantial reduction in the charges. Believe it or not, oftentimes when cops violate the law they just helped you win your case. So I remind my clients that when cops violate your constitutional rights don’t panic. They just might have helped you win your case. This article looks at a couple of examples of cases I won where cops violated people’s rights. Continue reading →

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The manager of a rooming house in Lawrence, Massachusetts found a laptop in the laundry room that she believed belonged to one of the tenants. Rather than return it the woman opened it and found images of Child Pornography. She then called the police. It was determined that the computer belonged to Gerard Anthony Burbine, a registered sex offender. Lawrence police then secured the laptop. They obtained a Search Warrant and a search of its contents confirmed the presence of Child Pornography. Burbine was previously charged with and convicted of Possession of Child Pornography for which he received a jail sentence. Right now, according to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune Burbine is being held on thirty thousand dollars bail for Enticing a Minor to be Exhibited in a State of Nudity. The case is being prosecuted in the Lawrence District Court but will probably be moved to the Essex County Superior Court in Salem, Massachusetts.

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Massachusetts Child Pornography Defense Lawyer

Lawrence Massachusetts Sex Crimes Lawyer

I imagine that Burbine is being charged under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 29A. That statute prohibits anyone from enticing someone whom he knows or should know is under eighteen years old from enticing that person to be exhibited in a state of nudity. A conviction for that offense is a felony for which there is a ten year minimum sentence. The article here makes no mention of facts that support this charge. Thus, I can only assume that during the forensic examination of the computer there were some emails or chat line communications located that suggested some sort of enticement.

Any Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer will tell you that there are always defenses to cases like this one. It is likely that the rooming house has one IP address that the tenants share thereby making internet access easy for everyone. The fact that the laptop was found in the laundry room suggests that someone other than Burbine was using it. Think about it. Why would he need the laptop in the laundry room? And, if he was using it there why would he leave it there? People living in rooming houses have limited means and are inclined to protect their personal belongings, not leave them in open areas. Aside from the device, what links Burbine to the illicit activity? Did anyone see him perusing the unlawful material? Are there any personal identifiers showing that he was the person who accessed the Child Pornography? Perhaps there is nothing more than stated in this article thereby making a prosecution of this case more difficult that it initially appears.

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In Broward County Florida a criminal charge issued in large part due to texting between defendants and Facebook posts that detailed their plan. The text messages discussed what to do with the victim’s body. The Facebook posts were more detailed and accompanied by photos and entries that offered law enforcement a nice timeline of the defendants’ activities. If this was not enough one of the defendants told a friend how he strangled the victim and where he left her body. This admission continued with complaints about how bad the decomposing body smelled followed by texts to the co-defendant repeating this concern. The defendant then went to visit with a drug counselor where he once again confessed to having killed a named and missing woman. The drug counselor contacted the police. The police responded and gave the man his Miranda warnings. He then spoke to the police and provided them with a statement.

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Getting Confessions Suppressed in Massachusetts

Any Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer will tell you what I have repeated countless times to prospective clients, existing clients and through this blog. Nothing good can ever happen when you talk to the police. Nothing good can happen when you text about having committed crimes. Nothing good can happen when you post details of your criminal activities on Facebook. I cannot find any crime statistics in Massachusetts or other parts of the country that identify how many indictments or complaints would not have issued had the accused not opened his or her mouth. I am confident that the number is much more than one half. Another statistic that I am interested in is how many criminal convictions are directly attributed to the accused opening his mouth, or taking out a pen or entering text into some sort of electronic device. That number must be staggering. In my practice alone I see way too many people who have talked, texted or posted prior to calling me for advice.

So how do Massachusetts Criminal Lawyers handle this issue. Well, filing a Motion to Suppress is always prudent. If the police took the statement without following proper constitutional requirements the case may be dismissed. Similarly, at times text messages or Facebook posts can only be properly accessed through Search Warrants and a failure to get one validly issued can be fatal to the district attorney’s case. Where the post or text is published in a public forum suppression is not that easy and the accused may have to resolve his case without a trial to get the best result. Social media and electronic communications make prosecuting much easier these days. That is why it is necessary for the accused to Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer.

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methamphetamine.jpgThis past weekend police in Framingham, Massachusetts raided the home of Douglas Lester (a pseudonym), a twenty one year old man living on Day Hill Road. The Metrowest Daily News reports that early Sunday night Lester was seen selling marijuana to a female not far from his home. Police stopped the woman. She surrendered the drugs and the police applied for and obtained a Search Warrant for Lester’s home. Inside they found over fourteen grams of Meth (Crystal Methamphetamine) in various locations in the home. They also found several bags of marijuana. In excess of thirteen thousand dollars cash was taken during the raid. Scales, packaging materials and assorted Drug Paraphernalia were seen in the premises during the search process. Lester has been charged with Possession With the Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Trafficking Methamphetamine. Bail was set in the amount of twenty five thousand dollars. Lester is facing a Probation Violation as well. The case in currently in the Framingham District Court. The district attorney will likely indict this case and prosecute Lester in the Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn.

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Framingham Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyer

Any Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer will tell you that based on the information in this article Lester’s chances of success hinge on the constitutionality of the Search Warrant. The first thing to analyze is the credibility of the police officer’s observations relative to the sale between Lester and the unidentified woman. What did they see? From what vantage point or location did they see the purported transaction? Was their view clear? How did they in fact determine that this was a drug deal? The next thing to look at is the credibility of the woman they stopped. What was in her possession? If there were drugs, what type? Marijuana? Crystal Meth? How much drugs was she possessing? What information did she give the police? What was her motive in providing this information? Does she have a criminal record? Was she using drugs at that time? Was she arrested and if so, with what was she charged? The next part of the analysis contemplates whether the information this woman provided coupled with the police observations gives rise to the issuance of the Massachusetts Search Warrant. This woman’s veracity and her basis of knowledge must be properly assessed if the information she provided is considered in the Search Warrant Application process.

Trying to Suppress Searches in Massachusetts is something our office attempts regularly for Massachusetts Drug Cases. Suppression often results in the dismissal of a criminal case. Without the drugs the district attorney is usually unable to proceed with its criminal charges. Hiring a Massachusetts Drug Crimes Lawyer who knows the law and is able to convince judges that a Search and Seizure was unlawful is critical to anyone charged with a Drug Crime in Massachusetts. Our offices have won countless drugs cases this way in counties throughout the state.

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