Massachusetts criminal defense Attorney Blog
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Today’s Lawrence Eagle Tribune reports that evidence in the case against Lori Barron, defendant in the Lawrence, Massachusetts day spa Sex Trafficking Scandal is still being processed. In the meantime countless local businessmen and male professionals fears are mounting.

It was about one week ago that news of Barron’s arrest and a potential “client list” broke. Barron, a fifty-year old Salem woman supposedly recorded her employees engaging in unlawful sexual acts and threatened them with exposure if they quit or failed to accede to her demands. Authorities estimate that Barron had hundreds of customers some of whom she solicited through backpage.com and other internet advertising websites. Barron, who has a previous criminal record for Prostitution has been charged with Prostitution, Photographing Unsuspecting Persons in the Nude, Human Sex Trafficking, violating the Massachusetts Wiretap Statute, Extortion and Intimidation of a Witness. She posted thirty thousand dollars cash bail in the Lawrence District Court. The police learned of her operation when a former employee complained that Barron Assaulted her when she refused to give in to a client’s peculiar sexual demands.

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Lawrence, Massachusetts Sex Trafficking Defense Law Firm

Lawyers Who Defend Sex Crimes in Essex County Massachusetts

So here is what clients now fear. The supposed “client list” is rumored to contain the names of lawyers, doctors, teachers, law enforcement officials, court employees firefighters, politicians and local professionals and businessmen. It is suggested that proof of that list exists through cell phone records and a computer hard drive, both of which are being examined through forensic experts. The most legitimate concern involves the publication of the names of the persons on the list. Try explaining this one to your wife, kids, friends and employer. Our office has received countless calls in the past week from potential clients and existing clients concerned about the dissemination of the list and their possible criminal exposure. I can tell you as a practical matter that the former is much more ominous than the latter. As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I am pretty confident that if criminal charges against clients issue the cases will be difficult to prove unless of course there is video evidence of unlawful acts or the person talks to the police. Absent video evidence and a confession the cases will be virtually non-provable.

This is not to say that the people on the “client list” will not be prosecuted. The standard for issuing criminal complaints is far lower than the standard for proving the crime alleged. Even if law enforcement knows that the case cannot be proved they might still issue complaints or publish the list. Why would they do this? It is usually done to serve as a deterrent. It sends a message to people who engage in this behavior or are inclined to do so. The message is simple. If you are going to frequent prostitution establishments be prepared for public exposure and humiliation even if the district attorney’s office cannot successfully prosecute you.

In the meantime clients have asked me what they can do right now. The simple answer is nothing. Why put your name out there? You might not be on the list. Can you see the client list? No. You can’t. Is there anything you can do to prevent the issuance of criminal charges? Yes. Hire a Massachusetts Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer. Your lawyer will make sure that you avoid incriminating yourself so that if you are a suspect or if you are charged you will not be in a position where your words help to convict you.

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Over two weeks ago police in Norwood, Massachusetts executed a Search Warrant at an apartment complex. This followed an investigation into alleged Drug Dealing activities by Henry Samuels, a twenty-four year old Norwood resident. In August of 2012 Samuels was arrested for selling marijuana to minors. At that time he was charged with Distribution of Marijuana, a Second and Subsequent Offense. Authorities claim that Samuels was selling marijuana from his apartment and that the landlord was alerted to his activities. At the time it was suggested to the landlord that he evict Samuels from the property. Apparently he did not. Since that time, Samuels remained under investigation by local police for drug related matters. Then, on June 5, 2013, armed with what they believed was probable cause, the police obtained a Search Warrant. During the execution of the search they found several bags of marijuana with an estimated street value of five thousand dollars. Samuels was not home at the time but his mother, Lashauna Pettway was. She was arrested and charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Possession of Marijuana. Samuels faces the same criminal charges. The landlord, who is not named in the article, is being charged with misdemeanor charges of permitting someone “to remain a common nuisance by the sale of controlled substances” in his building. The cases are being prosecuted in the Dedham District Court.

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Norfolk County Marijuana Distribution Defense Law Firm

As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I am most intrigued by the charge against the landlord. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 139 Section 20 makes it a crime for a landlord to permit tenants to engage in gambling, prosecution, the illegal sale of alcohol, the sale of drugs on their property. The statute requires the landlord, after proper notice, to take appropriate steps to evict the tenant. A failure to do so can result in a criminal prosecution and a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of one thousand dollars. The statute is rarely implemented, which, from a law enforcement perspective makes no sense. There are only three criminal cases in Massachusetts addressing this issue, and none of them firmly address the crime.

Here is what the law requires relative to this case. Back in August, once the landlord learned that Samuels had been arrested for selling drugs, he was required to commence eviction proceedings. In other words, the law imposes on him an affirmative duty to spend money on lawyer and go to court to remove someone who might not have been convicted and enjoys the presumption of innocence. No wonder this law is rarely employed. It might not survive a challenge to its constitutionality. Laws like this one if properly attacked can result in a dismissal of the criminal charges.

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Yesterday the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued its opinion in the case of Commonwealth v. Chambers. Chambers was tried in the Suffolk Superior Court for the death of Edward Quiles. The district attorney proved that in the winter of 2008 Chambers lived with the victim and another (Ceurvels) in an apartment in Boston. All three were drug users abusing Cocaine and Heroin. Ceurvels witnessed the incident and testified at trial to the following: The night before the killing Chambers and Quiles were injecting Heroin. They fell asleep around 4:00 a.m. the next day. They woke up to Quiles yelling about a missing gram of heroin. They went back to sleep again. Later that afternoon Quiles woke the other two again complaining about some missing heroin. Chamber and Quiles looked around the apartment for the drugs. Ceurvels left for a while. Ten minutes later Ceurvels returned to find Chambers and Quiles in “an all-out brawl”. Ceurvels then saw blood on the floor and heard Quiles yell to Chambers that Chambers had stabbed him. Ceurvels left the apartment and through another notified the police. He never saw a weapon. The police entered the home and found Quiles dead. The medical examiner testified that Quiles died from a stab wound to the neck.

Chambers was arrested. At the police station he stated that Quiles was high on drugs and that he had accused Chambers of stealing his drugs. He stated that Quiles produced the knife, punched him in the head and called one of his friends to come over and kill Chambers. Chambers also said that Quiles had threatened to stab him and would not let him leave the apartment.

Before the trial started the defense requested and obtained evidence of specific acts of violence committed by Quiles. The district attorney tried to exclude this material at trial. The judge agreed to permit Chambers to admit this evidence, specifically that in 2006 Quiles and others Assaulted and Robbed another individual. The collateral evidence is known as “Adjutant evidence”. Relying on this ruling the defense attorney mentioned this in his opening statement. During the trial, the judge changed her mind on the admissibility of the Adjutant evidence. In doing so she ruled that since the identity of the first aggressor was not an issue at trial Adjutant did not apply. The Supreme Judicial Court held this to be error. It concluded that Adjutant applies “where there is a dispute at trial as to who threatened or struck the first blow or as to who initiated the threat or use of deadly force”. The improper restriction on the use of the Adjutant evidence coupled with the judge’s failure to remedy defense counsel’s reference to this in his opening statement warranted a reversal of Chambers’ conviction.

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Today the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued its opinion in Commonwealth v. Parent, SJC-11181. After a jury trial Parent was convicted of Indecent Assault and Battery, Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. In reversing convictions for a the Massachusetts Sex Crime and other the other charges the Court in Parent found the following facts:

The defendant’s fifteen year old daughter invited a fourteen year old girlfriend to spend the night at her home. The daughter asked the defendant if she and her friend could have an alcoholic drink. The defendant gave them each a bottle of alcoholic lemonade. Once they finished their drink Parent went to a local store to buy two six packs of the same drink. The girls were with him. They went home. The girls each had a few more drinks. The girls fell asleep on a sofa bed while watching television. The victim claims to have woken up with the defendant lying down between her and the daughter on the bed. The victim testified that the defendant had his hand in her pants, rubbing her genitalia over her underwear. She stopped him, the defendant left and the fourteen year old friend fell back to sleep. The next day Parent’s fiancé took the girls to the movies. The victim ran into a friend and disclosed what had happened the night before. The defendant’s daughter agreed that he had provided them with alcohol and that he was becoming intoxicated as the night progressed. She never saw or heard him get into the bed with them.

The defense contended that the victim was lying. In support of this defense counsel argued that the friend changed her story over time. This was corroborated by a detective’s report generated four days after the incident. In total defense recognized four significant inconsistencies between the trial testimony and what was related to the detective. On cross-examination the victim denied making the inconsistent statements to the detective. Accordingly, defense counsel tried elicit the inconsistencies from the detective. The judge would not permit it. The Supreme Judicial Court found this to be an improper limitation of Parent’s right to impeach the victim. The Court further found this to be prejudicial and reversed the conviction for Indecent Assault and Battery.

The Supreme Judicial Court addressed other issues as well. The trial judge improperly permitted the district attorney to elicit from the detective evidence that the complaining witness told him that Parent committed a sexual assault on her. The Court found this to be violative of the first complaint doctrine. In fact its only purpose was to pile on evidence that suggested that the victim was telling the truth and that the act did in fact occur. The Court restated its position that “[t]he testimony of multiple complaint witnesses likely serves no additional corroborative purpose, and may unfairly enhance a complainant’s credibility as well as prejudice the defendant by repeating for the jury the often horrific details of an alleged crime.” Nor was the friend’s statement to the detective admissible for the purpose of rehabilitating her credibility.

The count charging the defendant with delivering alcohol to his own daughter was also reversed. The applicable law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138 Section 34 prohibits providing alcohol to anyone under the age of twenty one. Specifically, you cannot sell or deliver alcohol to a person under age, you cannot buy a drink for someone under age in a bar or restaurant and you cannot give an underage person alcohol. There is an exception provided by the statute. You can give it to your child or grandchild. In reversing this portion of the conviction the Supreme Judicial Court discussed confusing aspects of the statute pertaining to the words “furnish”, “procure”, “sell” and “deliver”. The Court concluded that what Parent was convicted for did not violate the statute.

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Earlier today Methuen, Massachusetts police responded to a report of a fight occurring just outside of a Methuen fast food restaurant on Route 110. In total, five people were arrested. The incident occurred just after midnight when one of the accused allegedly insulted a female. Words were exchanged between the two groups, one consisting of five individuals the other having three. One of the individuals in the larger group used a metal pipe beat and stab the three victims. One of the injured parties sustained injuries to his head and was taken to the hospital where he remains in serious condition. Four or the individuals arrested face charges of Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon. The other has been charged with Assault With Intent to Murder as well as Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon. The charges are now pending in the Lawrence District Court. Depending on their criminal records and the severity of the injuries this case may be prosecuted in the Essex County Superior Court in Salem.

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Methuen, Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer Defending Violent Crimes, Assault Cases, Stabbing Cases

This article mentions the suspects being detained not far from the crime scene for the purpose of witness identification. This issue comes up regularly in Massachusetts Criminal Cases. Prosecutors need victims to make identifications of their assailants. Yet there are constitutional restrictions on the manner in which these identification procedures can be implemented. If the procedure is not followed correctly the accused’s Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer can bring a Motion to Suppress the Identification Procedure. If successful, the fact that an identification of the defendant was made might not be admissible at trial. Absent an independent source for the identification of the defendant the case might be dismissed.

There are many types of identification procedures used by law enforcement in Massachusetts and throughout the country. There are photo arrays, line-ups, show-ups and more. The procedure used here is commonly known as a “show up” identification procedure. This usually takes place at or near the crime scene. Potential suspects will be detained for a period of time, usually enough time to get the victim or witness over to view the individual. The victim or witness is typically concealed in a police cruiser and taken to the scene to see if he or she can identify the person being detained as having been involved in the crime. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court views this procedure as “inherently suggestive”. These procedures present the greatest risk of mistaken identification. However, trial judges often deny motions to suppress these procedures and rarely is that decision overturned. Judges are to look to the totality of the circumstances in determining whether or not the identification procedure was unnecessarily suggestive so as to warrant suppression. It is the job of the defense attorney to present evidence showing the suggestive nature of the process. This can be done directly, through cross-examination or both. The district attorney is accountable to show that good reason for the procedure existed. The judge will look at factors such as the need for an efficient police investigation immediately following the crime and the usefulness of a quick confirmation of the police investigatory information.

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Just two nights ago Michael Gitschier of Amesbury, Massachusetts was arrested and charged with numerous Massachusetts Drug Crimes. A Newburyport, Massachusetts newspaper reports that an Amesbury Police Officer noticed a very bright light shining in a downtown apartment. The officer radioed for assistance. A second officer arrived and the two approached the home to inquire. When they did they were met with a strong odor of Marijuana. One of the cops then looked into a window where he claims to have seen between twenty and twenty five pot plants. The officer reported that seeing grow lights and an irrigation system set up as well. With this information the police applied for and were granted a Search Warrant. The warrant was served, the search was executed and Gitschier was arrested. The forty two year old Gitschier was charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana, a Class D Substance, Possession of Marijuana as a Second and Subsequent Offense and Malicious Destruction to Property. The latter charges stems from allegations that the defendant tapped into a neighbor’s utilities to facilitate the growth of the plants and arguable to avoid detection for excessive utility bills. Gitschier was charged in the Newburyport District Court where during his arraignment it was alleged that he admitted to committing the crimes charged. The owner of the apartment posted Gitschier’s bail which was set at two thousand five hundred dollars. The article states that the officer making the discovery viewed the bright light in the apartment as out of place and warranting further investigation.

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Lawyers Who Defend Marijuana Felony and Misdemeanor Cases in Newburyport, Massachusetts

As a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer I am interested in seeing the affidavit used to obtain the Search Warrant. As most readers know, if that document fails to articulate sufficient probable cause for the issuance of the Search Warrant the search will fail, the drugs will be suppressed and Gitschier’s case will likely be dismissed. One of the questions I have is exactly what did the officer’s do when they approached the home? Where were they when they saw the excessively bright lighting? From where did they approach the defendant’s home? What was the defendant’s expectation of privacy relative to the place from where the officer peered into the window to make his observation? Here is something else. Do you really think that someone who put together an elaborate Marijuana Cultivation operation would leave a portion of his window uncovered? Are there any surveillance cameras in the area that can show exactly what the police officers did in this case? Some pretrial investigation work is likely to reveal the answers to these questions. The results of this work will have an important impact on the ultimate outcome of this case.

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Today, in a 5-4 decision the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Maryland v. King. The ruling allows police to take a DNA sample from a suspect who has been arrested. Summarized, the decision written by Justice Kennedy holds that when the police make an arrest supported by probable cause and take the person to the station for detention the taking of a DNA sample with a buccal swab is a legitimate booking procedure and is not violative of the Fourth Amendment rights of the accused.

In King the Supreme Court articulated as facts the following: In 2003 there was a home invasion in Maryland during which a woman was Raped by the assailant. The victim was unable to identify the attacker and the police investigation was unsuccessful. Through the victim the perpetrator’s DNA was obtained. In 2009 the defendant was arrested for a Violent Crime. As part of the booking procedure, and pursuant to a Maryland DNA collection law, a DNA sample was taken. A national database, CODIS, matched the defendant’s DNA to the sample saved from the 2003 rape. The Maryland law successfully challenged by the defendant and the case found its way up the United States Supreme Court.

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Maryland v. King

Upholding the Maryland DNA collection law and overturning the Maryland Appeals Court decision the majority in King came to the following troubling conclusions: 1) accurate identification of the suspect is well served through this process, 2) this process reduces inordinate detention risks helping to ensure the safety of the facility staff, the detainee and other detainees at the facility, 3) DNA collection reduces the risk of flight and the subversion of the administration of justice, 4) DNA collection helps with a judge’s determination of bail and 5) the law serves to prevent the detention of innocent people being held for crimes that they did not commit.

The dissent in King was nothing less than scathing. It reasoned that identifying King was not an issue in this case. The Maryland statute permitting the DNA collection forbids testing the DNA sample until after the arraignment. The DNA sample was not matched until four months after the arrest. The Maryland statute provided two situations where the DNA could be tested. One to identify human remains and the other to identifying missing persons. Nothing in the statute permitted testing the DNA for any other purpose. Doing so according to the Maryland law constitutes a crime. The dissent went further stating that “law enforcement’s post-arrest use of fingerprints could not be more different from its post-arrest use of DNA”.

There are additional flaws to this decision not discussed in the dissent. Here is just one of them to think about. Through DNA testing it has been discovered that fifty percent of a person’s personality traits are imbedded in his or her genes. Taking DNA samples in accordance with the Maryland law will enable law enforcement to profile people and their families through these DNA test disclosures. It will not be long before prosecutors try to use this information in court in support of their prosecution.

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This past Saturday night in Hingham, Massachusetts the police broke up a house party. While doing so they arrested sixteen minors and one adult. The minors face charges of Minor in Possession of Alcohol and Disturbing the Peace. The homeowner is also being charged with a crime; Violating the Massachusetts Social Host Law. When the police responded to calls complaining about the party bear bottles were hurled at them. Backup officers were called and arrests were made. Several other youths fled into the woods and were not apprehended. The case is being prosecuted in the Hingham District Court.

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Hingham, Massachusetts Criminal Defense Law Firm

Lawyers Who Defend Social Host Violations in Massachusetts

While I am not sure exactly under which statute the homeowner is being prosecuted Massachusetts General Laws has criminal provision for people who provide alcohol to people under the age of twenty one. The law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138 Section 34 states that anyone who gives any alcoholic beverage to someone under the age of twenty one is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be sentenced by a fine of two thousand dollars and a one year jail sentence.

As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I see these charges typically being filed this time of year. They stem from high school graduation parties. Most parents are not aware of the law and cannot foresee problems with permitting minors to drink alcohol at their homes on these occasions. Many adults reflect back to when they graduated from high school remembering how they celebrated that day. They figure there is no harm in passing along the tradition. They assume the graduates will act appropriately and the event will be a happy one that runs smoothly. In doing so they are unaware of several factors that can result in them being charged with a crime. The laws have changed. Since the drinking age was raised fewer high school students have access to alcohol. Beer has been passed over for vodka or other types of hard alcohol. It is easier to conceal. It also however leads to acute intoxication that can be hazardous to anyone, especially the inexperienced high school aged drinker. When the police get called to a house party where minors are consuming alcohol they cannot ignore what they see. Arrests are made, parents are called and criminal charges are filed. And now, the parents hosting the party get charged as well. This case is a perfect example of what happens in these circumstances. The minor drinkers could not control their behavior to the point where the police were called. To compound matters they threw bottles at the officers. Obviously this cannot be overlooked and the person who permitted them to do so is facing criminal charges in court.

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The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reports that the death of a Salem, Massachusetts man might be the product of a Domestic Violence incident occurring in Gloucester yesterday. A man in an apartment complex heard a noise loud enough to cause him to look outside. He then saw the victim on the ground in the parking lot. The victim was bleeding from his left side. The police responded and located a forty-three year old Haverhill man whose truck had either run over or somehow hit the victim. After questioning the man, James Hayes was released. Hayes is the father of the victim’s girlfriend’s daughter. A witness reports that Hayes had been arguing with the victim just before the incident. No arrests have been made nor have any charges been filed.

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Massachusetts Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

Lawyers Who Defend People Accused of Domestic Disputes in Essex County

This article highlights why prosecutors in Massachusetts take Domestic Violence cases so seriously. They are often afraid that death or serious bodily injury can result if the situation is not diffused. Oftentimes the district attorney will ask for a high bail or for detention pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 276 Section 58A to make sure that the accused cannot get out of jail and further assault the victim.

Interestingly enough, in some counties in Massachusetts detention is requested on every case involving an incident of Domestic Violence. Placing form over substance in these matters is not, in my opinion a prudent way for prosecutors to proceed with Domestic Violence cases. Judges can become numb to routine detention requests. Prosecutors applying this strategy risk blending the more serious cases with the less serious cases. While some judges might routinely rubber stamp a request for detention others are liable to question the integrity of the prosecutors and release people who might actually deserve detention. The Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer you hire should be someone who is familiar with the practices of the district attorneys in the county where you are being prosecuted as well as with the judges who regularly sit there. Selecting the right lawyer to defend you can make the difference between freedom and being held in jail while waiting to have your case heard on its merits.

Here is something else that interests me about this case. Why did Hayes talk to the police? Most people believe that no harm can come from talking to the police if you have nothing to hide. Most Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorneys disagree with that statement however. Police usually ask questions designed to elicit a particular answer. The questions are not usually open ended. They are pointed and innocent answers can be interpreted as representative of criminal responsibility. Again, my advice is to never talk to the police without first discussing matters with an Experienced Criminal Lawyer.

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Just a few days ago police found Learde Rodriguez at an apartment on Lowell Street in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The twenty-three year old was arrested in connection with a shooting alleged to have occurred in Haverhill, Massachusetts just over one month ago. Rodriguez also faces charges in Lawrence for the same crime. The Haverhill incident occurred in the early evening hours. Police responded to a call for a shooting and arrived to find the victim riddled with gunshot wounds. A short while later a car with the windows shot out arrived at the police station to report the incident. There is no information as to how or why the police believe Rodriguez to be involved in the case. It is probable that Rodriguez will be held without bail due to the dangerousness of the crimes he is facing. Additionally, these cases will likely be prosecuted in the Essex County Superior Court in Salem, Massachusetts.

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Lawrence, Massachusetts Assault and Battery Defense Lawyer

Haverhill, Massachusetts Lawyer Who Defends Violent Crimes

One thing I noticed while reading this article is the reference to Rodriguez being a member of the Trinitario Gang. This gang originated as a New York City prison gang. It was created for Dominican prisoners who were drug dealers and who had been encountering problems with the Latin Kings during their incarceration. The gang was formed for their protection in the jails. The gang spread to the streets and although primarily in the New Jersey and New York areas they are spreading to Eastern Massachusetts. Their weapon of choice is the machete. This past December forty such gang members were arrested and charged with an assortment of Violent Crimes in New York including Gun Charges, Drug Charges and Conspiracy.

Cases like this one can be difficult for the district attorney to prove. If Rodriguez was involved in these crimes I imagine that there was either a gang related motive or a drug relative motive or both. Gang members and drug dealers are reluctant to come into court to testify. They fear their own exposure for the crimes that they committed. They also fear retaliation from the people and gangs against whom they testify. In major cities prosecuting these cases is often a nightmare. Corralling the witnesses and getting them to cooperate honestly often borders on impossible. And what about their credibility? Most of them come with heavy baggage and getting jurors to believe what they have to say is not easy. Defending these cases is always a challenge but often defense attorneys feel that they have the upper hand. Rarely do witnesses come into court with clean hands. There are seldom independent eyewitnesses to these types of crimes. The witnesses are typically drug dealers and rival gang members who are easy to impeach. The outcome to this case should be interesting.

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