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A Methuen, Massachusetts man has been charged with two firearm offenses in the Lawrence District Court following a brief investigation. According to a report in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune, Jad Ali Mokdad has been charged with having an unsecured firearm and possession of a high capacity feeding device. Both cases are pending in the Lawrence District Court. Apparently Mokdad bought a high capacity gun not too long ago. Mokdad’s father called the store that sold the defendant the gun and asked about getting a silencer and about modifying the weapon to feed it more ammunition. The gun store owner called federal authorities to report the activity. As a result Mokdad was arrested.

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Lawrence Weapons Charges Defense Law Firm

The use or possession of silencers in Massachusetts is a felony pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 10A. There is a potential five-year state prison sentence for anyone convicted of this crime. Possession of a large capacity feeding device is a felony as well. This act is prohibited by G.L. c. 269 Sec. 10(m). Perhaps, at least in the context of this case, the most serious crime with which Mokdad has been charged is failing to properly store the firearm in a locked container “so as to render the weapon inoperable by any person other than the owner”. In cases where this law is violated and a person under the age of eighteen can access the gun the accused faces a one-year minimum sentence. This law, G.L. c. 140 Sec. 131L is routinely charged by Massachusetts prosecutors when law enforcement officials legally enter a home and see, either in plain view or pursuant to a search warrant, a firearm not properly locked.

So what is going to happen to Mokdad? A lot depends on how the police got into his home and located the weapons. I would assume they had a search warrant. However the grounds for obtaining one are not articulated in this article. Mokdad’s father’s request to the gun store about getting the sought after devices should not in and of itself permit the police to get a search warrant. There must be more than that, particularly if the warrant targeted Mokdad and not his father. I can certainly foresee circumstances where a motion to suppress or a motion to dismiss might be filed by the defense in this case.

There is something else that might concern the defendant’s criminal lawyer. Assuming there was a search conducted with a warrant, did Mokdad’s Middle Eastern descent factor into the application affidavit. If so, on what basis was this a concern of the police? Keep in mind, Mokdad is scheduled to graduate from college with a degree in finance in just three months. There is no suggestion that he has any criminal history and there is no evidence of an intent to commit a crime with these weapons.

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While reading a Courthouse News Report earlier today I was again struck by the inflexible approach that federal judges take towards child pornography distribution cases. A federal judge in New York sentenced a teenager to thirty months in prison after he pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography. No doubt this was an excellent deal. There was a large quantity of images on the defendant’s computer accessed through a file-sharing program. This fact alone satisfied the element of distribution. Yet this judge, Judge Jack Weinstein correctly recognized that this form of distribution is at best passive. The government appealed the sentence. The Second Circuit of Appeals criticized the judge’s sentence, ruled that he misinterpreted the law and remanded the case for further sentencing. The district court then, without any choice, imposed a sixty-month sentence, the minimum mandatory under the law.

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Federal Child Pornography Defense Attorney

What I find most appalling about the appellate court decision is its failure to respect the detailed, well-researched efforts of the lower court judge. Consistent with his practice Weinstein visited a federal prison at Fort Devens, Massachusetts that was established to treat sex offenders. He believed that treatment at Devens for this defendant would be rehabilitative and would enable the accused to perhaps reenter society at a later date in a productive manner. Weinstein has made frequent field trips like this in the past so that he can better understand the implication of his rulings and sentences. Imagine that? A federal judge who cares enough to take off his robe and step down from his pulpit to ensure that his decisions are just and productive not simply for the defendant but for society as a whole. Weinstein’s sentencing decision was issued with great thought. The supporting memorandum was over four hundred pages in length. It contemplated several days of expert mental health testimony. It considered the defendant’s childhood, one that is riddled with scarring incidents of abuse and neglect. The sentence placed form over substance, treatment over punishment.

So what happened? The Court of Appeals decided that notwithstanding Justice Weinstein’s findings it knew better. It told Weinstein that he must apply the enhancements set out in the sentencing guidelines. Let’s take a look at just one of these enhancements. Using a computer to access child pornography enhances the sentence. What? How else would this be accessed nowadays?

This enhancement is best characterized as idiocy. It is 2013 folks. The Internet is used for everything. It is virtually the only way people are accessing child porn. So Justice Weinstein used common sense and justly decided not to enhance the sentence using that criteria. Unfortunately he must have forgotten that in federal court the culture is one of hostility. Prosecutors and judges alike want to “one-up” each other by showing how smart they through sentencing hearings they shout out “look, I found another way to increase the sentence”.

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In Commonwealth v Ortiz, decided earlier today the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a conviction for drug distribution notwithstanding the failure of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance charged was in fact cocaine. The facts of the case are as follows: In June of 2010 a Weymouth, Massachusetts police officer was conducting an undercover surveillance during which she observed what she believed to be a drug deal. One week later she saw the same car and same driver allegedly engage in identical activity. This time the officer approached the buyer and found her in possession of cocaine. A support team was notified and the car, being driven by Ortiz was pulled over. Ortiz was arrested and charged with distributing cocaine and a school zone violation. After a jury trial he was convicted.

The prosecutor and the defense lawyer agreed prior to trial to stipulate that the substance was cocaine. During the trial the substance was referred to as cocaine however at no time was a certificate of analysis produced nor was the stipulation offered by the assistant district attorney, the defense attorney or the judge. The judge did reference the stipulation during his jury charge. On appeal Ortiz argued that since the stipulation was not offered before the prosecutor rested his case the judge should have allowed the motion for a required finding of not guilty. The defendant further argued that a stipulation to an element of the offense should be in writing and signed by the defendant. Alternatively, the stipulation must be the subject of a colloquy. In rejecting the appeal and affirming the conviction the Supreme Judicial Court refused to answer the question as to whether the failure to enter the stipulation constituted error. Rather, the Court held that reaching that issue was not necessary since there was no substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice. Similarly, the challenge to the absence of a signed stipulation and the absence of a colloquy did not warrant a reversal of the conviction. However, this case has prospective application regarding stipulations to an element of the case. Going forward, such stipulation should be submitted to the jury prior to the government resting its case.

From my perspective this decision seems to relieve the district attorney of its
burden of proving all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Even though there was an agreement that the substance was cocaine the agreement
itself was never conveyed to the jury. Thus, legally there was no adequate proof that the substance was in fact what was charged. It was incumbent upon the prosecutor or the judge to make this known to the jury prior to the final submission of all evidence.

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A twenty-five year old Woburn, Massachusetts man is being charged in Essex County for a stabbing incident that occurred yesterday morning. According to reports Timothy Wells slashed a Salem State College student on a shuttle bus and then stabbed the bus driver who came to the female victim’s defense. Wells fled the scene and was apprehended in New York earlier today. Wells, a senior at Salem State was found in possession of a knife a few weeks ago however no charges were filed. Wells, a senior at Salem State has been charged with Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon and Attempted Murder. It has been reported that Wells informed campus police about his concerns about his state of mind.

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Salem, Massachusetts Criminal Defense Law Firm

The facts of this case clearly suggest that Wells’ lawyer investigate the viability of a mental health defense. The most commonly used mental health defense in Massachusetts is the defense of lack of criminal responsibility. Lay people often refer to this defense as the insanity defense. If a jury finds that some lacked criminal responsibility at the time of the commission of the crime it cannot convict the person of that crime. It is the burden of the government to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was sane when he committed the offense. To succeed with this defense there must be evidence that the defendant had a mental condition that rendered him unable to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law. It is advisable that anyone employing this defense have an expert evaluate him and be prepared to testify at trial to the condition of the accused and its effect on his or her ability to behave properly.

The defendant is also entitled to have the jury instructed that an acquittal by reasons of insanity does not automatically permit the person to go free. Rather, the jury can, upon request be instructed that its decision to find the defendant not guilty will likely require hospitalization in a secure mental health facility and that he will not be released unless and until a judge finds that he is no longer mentally ill and dangerous. Voluntary intoxication and drug abuse can be factored into this analysis in certain circumstances.

Here, Wells’ condition was known to campus police prior to the incident. It would not surprise me to learn that he had a document mental health condition or that he was prescribed medication for his problems. In that case, the defense is what I call a real one; i.e. not something concocted in the absence of an explanation for Wells’ behavior. Mental health defenses rarely convince juries. They do however often convince prosecutors and judges that the accused should be acquitted and treated for his problems.

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Earlier today I was reading the Lawrence Eagle Tribune and came across an article about a Methuen, Massachusetts man just convicted of one count of Rape. The man, Kenneth Poirier was being tried for a rape that occurred over three years ago. It was alleged that Poirier picked up a woman outside of a Lawrence rooming house and at gunpoint and took her to a wooded area in Methuen where he raped her. His defense was that believing she was a prostitute he picked her up and that all sexual contact between the two was consensual.

An earlier article about this trial reported that the woman did not appear in court to testify claiming that she had medical issues. However, the police had to go out and find her. When they did she was put up in a hotel, fed and clothed. The woman admitted having no recollection as to whether or not she told the police that she was forced into the car at gunpoint. There was no physical evidence corroborating the woman’s claim that she had been raped.

Essex County Rape Defense Law Firm

Massachusetts Rape Defense Attorney

Consent is a defense to allegations of Rape. It is one of two defenses I would expect to see in a case with facts such as this. The other defense would be a denial of engaging in any sexual act. Both defenses seem to fit the newspaper accounts of the crime. For example, where, as here there is no physical evidence suggesting a sexual assault I can see where the defendant would deny any unlawful contact with this woman. Why then would she make these accusations? There are countless reasons, the most common being a prostitution deal gone bad or a failed drug deal. But you have to ask yourself this. If Poirier didn’t rape her and there was no physical evidence corroborating her accusations, why admit to having sex at all?

Sex crimes can be difficult to defend. There can be a tendency on the part of jurors to sympathize with someone making this claim. Even though judges instruct jurors not to let sympathy interfere with their verdict the actions of the complaining witness can elicit emotion and sway jurors. In this case it is also troubling that as the victim became emotional during the trial the judge ordered a recess for her to compose herself. The recess causes pause and immediate reflection on the words and actions of the emotional witness. Some lawyer might even argue that the judge’s decision to break from trial at that time suggested that the judge was sympathetic towards the witness and perhaps believed her. This can be difficult for the defense to overcome, regardless of guilt or innocence.

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According to a report on Boston.com Steven and Lori Palladino along with their son Gregory stole in excess of ten million dollars from forty-two victims some of whom are over the age of sixty. The Ponzi scheme, as it is being called, alleges that the Palladinos raised money through investors by promising large returns on the investment. Rather than investing the money however the defendants used the money to fund an extravagant lifestyle. The money was spent on lavish vacations, cars and gambling debts. A criminal usury charge was also filed alleging that Steven Palladino loaned money and charged a forty percent interest rate on the loan. There is also an allegation that Steven Palladino spent some of the money on a girlfriend. The Palladinos owned Viking Financial Group and were its only employees. Among the charges are Larceny Over $250, a felony and Larceny Over $250 with a victim over the age of sixty. If found guilty of the latter indictment the penalty can be enhanced. The younger Palladino was charged only recently in this case.

Massachusetts Larceny Lawyer

Lawyers Who Defend Usury Indictments in Massachusetts

A few thoughts come to mind when I read this article all of which are to me somewhat revealing about the district attorney’s case. Number one. Why is this case being prosecuted by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office rather than by the feds? The answer probably has something to do with the strength of the government’s case. It is the consensus among Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyers that in this district the feds cherry pick their cases. They prosecute only the strongest cases, those they believe they have very little chance of losing. Thus, there may be problems of proof for the district attorney. Number two. Why disclose to the public the facts about Steven Palladino having a girlfriend? I imagine the prosecution wants to create division in the family and possibly get Lori Palladino to agree to cooperate with the prosecution. If that is true, then again I question the strength of the prosecution’s case or its belief that it can prevail on the indictments as charged. Number three. Why indict the Palladino’s twenty-eight year old son? My answer is that in all probability the prosecution wants to squeeze the Palladinos. There is no instinct greater that that of a parent protecting a child. Most parents would die to protect their child. Again however, to me this signifies admitted weaknesses in the case against these defendants.

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Christopher White, a forty four year old Lowell, Massachusetts man is facing charges of Possession of Child Pornography and Distribution of Child Pornography following the execution of a Search Warrant at his Jackson Street home. Authorities allege that a search of White’s computer revealed somewhere around twenty five thousand images of child pornography. The article is silent as to how the police were led to White’s home and the basis for the application for the search warrant. The case is currently pending in the Lowell District Court however if the district attorney elects to pursue the distribution charges the matter must be prosecuted in the Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn or Lowell.

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Lowell, Massachusetts Child Pornography Defense Law Firm

Lawyers Defending Obscene Material Charges in Massachusetts

This article says very little about the strengths and weaknesses of the district attorney’s case against White. The simple execution of a search warrant leading authorities to unlawful acts does not come close to satisfying the prosecution’s burden of sustaining a case like this one. There must be something linking the defendant, in this case White, to the illicit material.

Here is something to think about when looking at this case. Did White have any roommates? Was the computer secure? In other words did someone need a password to get into it or was the device accessible to anyone who had access to the home? How did law enforcement learn that activity like this was taking place? Was there some sort of file sharing such as peer to peer networking involved? The answers to these questions can determine whether or not the prosecution can survive preliminary challenges.

The penalty for Distribution of Child Pornography in Massachusetts is ten years on state prison. This is a minimum mandatory sentence meaning that anyone convicted of this offense will not be paroled until he serves at least ten years of his sentence. This fact alone makes it extremely important that you choose the right criminal defense lawyer to defend you if you are charged with this crime.

Our office has successfully defended charges like this on several occasions. Every case is different and there are always defenses to cases no matter how strong you might think this case is against you. If you get arrested and charged with any Sex Crime in Massachusetts you need a lawyer.

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As I was browsing the Brockton Enterprise today I came across a story about two people arrested on unrelated prostitution charges a few nights ago. The arrests occurred in Brockton, Massachusetts. Around 10:00 p.m. Charie Shaw was arrested and charged with Sex For a Fee. About an hour later Kenneth Ritter was arrested and charged with Sexual Conduct for a Fee and Possession With Intent to Distribute a Class B substance. No more information was offered relative to the details of the alleged crimes.

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Brockton, Massachusetts Prostitution Defense Lawyer

I have been representing people accused of Soliciting a Prostitute and for Prostitution for over twenty-six years. In the past several years I have noticed a troubling trend among law enforcement agencies wherein undercover officers, posing as prostitutes approach men, engage them in discussions about their services and make an arrest. On countless occasions the accused comes into my office and makes clear that he was approached by the undercover cop and had no interest in engaging their proposed services. In most of the instances, once the officer has any discussion with her target a surveillance team swarms in and either makes an arrest or tells the individual that a summons will be sent to his home. Many times the interaction is far from a “discussion”. Rather, once the officer initiates the conversation an arrest is made. Many of these accused had absolutely no interest in the services of a prostitute nor did they have any interest in even continuing the discussion that the undercover initiated.

Not long ago I represented a lawyer charged with Solicitation of a prostitute. He was with colleagues, leaving a restaurant after a late night dinner. The undercover officer approached this man and his friends and offered sexual services. All of them declined. As they were walking away the officer looked at my client and reduced her price. He jokingly said “how about one million dollars?”. He was arrested. Fortunately his friends were able to corroborate his story and the charges were dismissed. But what about those occasions where someone does not have a witness? Hopefully the accused will hire someone experienced at resolving these cases in a manner in which there will be no trace of a criminal record.

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According to a report in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune charges of Disorderly Person, Trespassing and Assault and Battery have been filed against a Westford, Massachusetts man. The defendant, Adonis Carrasco was reportedly in a Merrimack College dorm room without an invitation. Sometime after midnight Carrasco allegedly put his arm around one of the women and sat in another woman’s lap. Carrasco also supposedly touched one of the girls’ legs and made some unwanted sexual suggestions towards her. One of the girls told the defendant that she had a knife. He responded that he sometimes carried a knife as well. Other students intervened on behalf of the women and called the police. Carrasco was arrested and now faces Criminal Charges in the Lawrence District Court.

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Lawrence, Massachusetts Assault and Battery Defense Lawyer

As a criminal defense lawyer I am always cynical when I read articles discussing arrests and pending criminal cases. I recognize that the truth is rarely what is initially read in court or disclosed in the newspapers. It is fairly uncommon for the accused to disclose their defenses at arraignment and this case is no exception to that rule.

So what do I ask when I read an article like this one? Well from one, how did Carrasco get into the dorm? From there how did he get into a room with these women? How long was he there for? Who else “witnessed” what was going on there? Did he go to the college alone or with friends? Once these questions and more like them are answered I get a pretty good sense of what happened. From there I know how to defend the case and often times, particularly in cases like this one if the defendant does not have a criminal record he will continue not to have one if he is properly represented.

Here is something else to think about. All dorms now have secure access meaning that in order to get in you need a code, key or someone to let you in. All dorms also now have video surveillance and security systems so determining how Carrasco got into the dorm can easily be determined. His lawyer simply has to get the judge to order the district attorney to have the footage preserved and produced or get a court order compelling the college to produce the material. I imagine that much will be learned from viewing this recording.

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An Andover, Massachusetts police officer now has a November 22nd date for a Clerk’s Hearing in the Lowell District Court. The charges being considered at the hearing are Leaving the Scene of an Accident Causing Property Damage and Operating Under the Influence of Liquor, commonly referred to in Massachusetts as OUI.

It is alleged that on March 11th of this year Officer Evan Robitaille of the Andover Police Department got into an accident around 9:30 in the morning and then fled the scene. A Clerk’s Hearing was scheduled for last Friday but with the agreement of Robitaille’s lawyer and the district attorney the case was continued.

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Lowell, Massachusetts Clerk Magistrate Hearing Lawyer

In Massachusetts, people charged with misdemeanors not committed in the presence of police officers have the right to a Clerk’s Hearing. This is a civil proceeding conducted in front of a Clerk Magistrate. The moving party will introduce evidence at the hearing. The Massachusetts Rules of Evidence do not apply to these proceedings, so essentially, the moving party gets to tell his or her story. The accused has the right to present evidence in his or her behalf but is under no obligation to do so. The clerk magistrate then weighs the evidence and makes the determination as to whether 1) there exists probable cause to issue a criminal complaint and 2) whether there exists probable cause to determine whether the accused is the person who committed that crime. If the answer to both is “yes” then a complaint often issues.

The Clerk Magistrate does however have the power not to issue the complaint. He can continue the matter and advise the accused that if he remains out of trouble for a period of time no complaint will issue. The Clerk Magistrate can also work with the parities towards a resolution of the issues without the need for judicial intervention. In essence he acts as a “gatekeeper” to the court, weeding out the cases that can be resolved without the issuance of a criminal complaint.

It is advisable for anyone who has one of these hearings to engage a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer. Good lawyers can prevent complaints from issuing and the cost of a lawyer at a Clerk’s Hearing is often less than that at a criminal proceeding.

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