About two months ago I was contacted by a woman who received notice for clerk magistrate hearing charging her with assault and battery on a pregnant person. After discussing the case it became clear that the accused was actually the victim and vice versa. The defendant retained me and the first thing we did was apply for a cross-complaint. A detective was assigned to the case and an application for a cross-complaint issued, charging the “victim” with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. A hearing on both matters was scheduled for the same day. The outcome of this case provides a clear example of why you need a lawyer at a clerk magistrate hearing. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
During the course of my career as a criminal defense attorney I have seen an increasing number of parents being charged for using force to discipline their children. The degree of force has ranged from a benign “grabbing” to more significant striking. Usually, these criminal charges were deemed indefensible in the sense that using any force for the purpose of discipline against a child would not be accepted as a defense in court. Thus, these cases were resolved by pretrial probation or continuances without a finding when in fact there should have been legal mechanism available for defending these allegations. Recently, the parental privilege defense was examined and approved in the Commonwealth. Continue reading →
I was recently reading and article in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune about Methuen, Massachusetts police officers with assault arrests in their background. The article, written by Douglas Moser on July 16, 2015 identifies two Methuen officers charged with violent crimes. One was facing with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. The other was charged with assault and battery on police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly person. All cases were dismissed. None of this prevented the men from becoming police officers. I have no problem with this. However, when reading the article I am reminded about the hurdles attorneys face when defending assault and battery on police officer cases. Continue reading →
Anytime you can dispose of a criminal case and not have a record you should really think about taking the deal that is on the table. Unless there are potential collateral consequences the risk of going to trial usually outweighs the reward. Obviously this is not always the case. There are times when an experienced lawyer will be confident recommending challenging a constitutional violation or having a jury waived trial over a pretrial resolution. But usually the opportunity for pretrial probation or a continuance without a finding is preferred. There are however times when a decision between pretrial probation for a felony charge or a CWOF for a misdemeanor must be weighed. Here are some thoughts on that dilemma. Continue reading →
Every few weeks I get a call from a perspective client telling me that he or she heard that the cops are looking for them. They want to know what they should do. These people tend to ask the same questions. Do I need a lawyer? What if I just talk to the police to hear what they have to say? Won’t it look bad if I say I have a lawyer? Many of these people think they can put the problem to rest by talking to the cops. They can’t sleep at night. They are worried about the unknown. They want answers now. They want the case over now. The problem is that talking with the police will not help you. It will only hurt you. When I am asked the question “do I need a criminal defense attorney before I am charged with a crime” the answers is always and unequivocally a resounding “yes”. Here is why. Continue reading →
Recently I was meeting with a new client who was charged, among other things with resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer. The defendant is a college student who was leaving a party in a Boston neighborhood. His story is unnerving and very common in Massachusetts, particularly for high school and college aged students. I have seen these facts frequently. Fortunately for my clients most district attorneys are familiar with this scenario and the resolution for the accused is typically favorable. Here is the young man’s story, the defenses to the case and the ultimate result.
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.
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.