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.
Several times in the past I have written about Massachusetts Human Trafficking cases and what I perceive as the prosecution stretching prostitution charges into human trafficking cases. The human trafficking cases are more serious than sex for a fee matters. I commented that people willingly involved in the world’s oldest profession would, under certain circumstances complain that they were victims and not willful criminals making good money for their services. Earlier today I read about a case in Newburyport where a woman, Huitong Huo was arrested and charged with sex for a fee after an undercover investigation disclosed that she was offering sexual services at her massage parlor. Interestingly enough, it was the defendant’s lawyer who suggested at the arraignment that Huo might have been a victim of human trafficking, not a criminal. Her defense is one of coercion. In other words, Huo is deflecting her responsibility to someone else. This article examines how this defense might be implemented in this case. Continue reading →
It is truly amazing how many people charged with crimes in Massachusetts feel a tremendous sense of relief when they resolve their case by being placed on probation. They have avoided the uncertainty of their sentence should they lost at trial. They walk away from the courthouse wiping their brow.The weight of the world is no longer on their shoulders. They are, in their minds free. For some people this feeling lasts forever. For others it lasts for a few days, sometimes even weeks. Then reality sets in. “Wait a minute” they say. “You mean I have to report to a probation officer once a week? ” “Do I really have to pay the probation department fifty or possibly sixty-five bucks a months?” Sometimes they call me up and ask if I can fix this. “Can I terminate my probation early?” This post examines some possibilities in this situation. Continue reading →
Several times each month I get a call from a local college student asking me questions about a crime that he or she has just been charged with. Most of the crimes are minor misdemeanors; shoplifting, trespassing or being a minor in possession of alcohol. Some of the charges are more serious such as assault and battery, drug possession or drug distribution. Very few of these kids have criminal records and almost all of them will continue not to have a criminal record if they are properly represented. The problem is that most of them do not want an effective lawyer. They want to represent themselves. The reason is two-fold. First, they do not have enough money to hire a lawyer. Second, they are afraid of asking their parents for the money because they don’t want them finding out what they did. As explained in this article this is a big mistake. Continue reading →
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.
Local news outlets are reporting that a fifty-six year old Connecticut man has been arrested and charged with child enticement in Massachusetts federal court. The complaint alleges that Paul Hinkel tried to entice a minor into having sex with him. Hinkel responded to a Craigslist post generated by undercover federal agents. The listing directed interested parties to an email address. Email exchanges between Hinkel and someone posing as the minor’s mother disclosed negotiations and plans for completing the act. When the Hinkel arrived at the meeting location he was met by federal agents and arrested. Continue reading →
It is the right of the district attorney and the defendant to call witnesses to testify at trial. Most people dread the process. They don’t want to get up before a jury, take an oath and testify against someone. Others don’t want the inconvenience of sitting around a courthouse for hours, waiting to be called to the witness stand. Some people are afraid that if they testify they might get in trouble themselves. It is this last category of people who call my office asking me for help. This post examines your rights and obligations when called to testify as a witness at a criminal trial in Massachusetts. Continue reading →
Browsing the Internet today I saw a story about a twenty two year old man being charged with statutory rape in Massachusetts. The man, Matthew Pos was arrested out of state and is being held pending a rendition hearing. Rendition is the process of one state sending a suspect in a criminal case to the state where the criminal charge is pending. All states have some sort of rendition law. Some people refer to this process as extradition. This post provides a synopsis of how rendition laws work and when they should be challenged or waived. Continue reading →