Massachusetts criminal defense Attorney Blog
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For several weeks a Massachusetts Drug Task Force had been investigating a Heroin Distribution operation in the Bridgewater, Massachusetts area. The investigation suggested to the officers that Samantha Lee Costa was the source of local heroin sales. On April 1, 2013 the police applied for an obtained a Search Warrant for her apartment. The execution of the Search Warrant took place just after 6:30 p.m. that day. Costa and a woman named Nicole Rossier were present at the time of the search. Several other people were in the apartment as well. Nearly four grams of heroin were located along with some pills, Marijuana and a Syringe. Drug Packaging materials and an insignificant amount of cash, (one hundred sixty four dollars) were found in the apartment as well. Costa has been charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute Class A, Heroin and Possession of Class D, Marijuana. The case is being prosecuted in the Brockton District Court.

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Brockton, Massachusetts Drug Defense Law Firm

Possession With Intent to Distribute Drug Lawyer in Massachusetts

As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer, based on this article it is clear to me that the charges against Costa are excessive and likely not provable. In order to convict someone for Possession With the Intent to Distribute Drugs in Massachusetts, the district attorney must show that the accused, in this case Costa, intended more than to just use the drugs. The only apparent evidence supporting that is the presence of baggies, packaging materials. Keep in mind that baggies are a household item and absent additional evidence of intended distribution it can be argued that the drugs that were being used by Costa came from those baggies. The syringe in this case was full. This is an indication that someone was about to use the heroin, not sell it.

Here is something else to consider. What is the evidence that Costa rather than someone else intended to use the Heroin? Rossier and several other people were present when the police raided the home. It is highly unlikely that the syringe or other drug ingestion materials will be fingerprinted. How then can the district attorney convince a jury that the drugs were Costa’s and not somebody else’s. They probably cannot make this argument successfully unless Costa made some incriminating statements or someone wants to testify against her. Hopefully she was smart enough not to make any statements to the police and contacted a lawyer right away. Certainly the people at the apartment are not in a position to testify as they have criminal exposure for Knowingly Being Present Where Heroin is Kept. Each of these people should have a lawyer to avoid being prosecuted along with Costa.

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Kathleen Allen, a twenty three year old Middleboro, Massachusetts woman was held on one hundred thousand dollars bail after her arraignment in the Wareham District Court. It is alleged that Allen was high on Heroin and Operating Under the Influence when her pickup truck slammed into a sedan killing the driver of the smaller car, a local college freshman. The most serious charge Allen faces is Motor Vehicle Homicide. At the time of the incident Allen had three open criminal cases.

According to reports, police officers responded to the crash scene where they observed two vehicles overturned. The victim died at the accident scene. Allen was brought to the hospital and treated for some minor injuries. Her passenger was med-flighted to a Boston hospital with serious injuries. Reports state that while driving Allen dropped a cigarette. When she went to pick it up she lost control of the wheel. Her passenger tried to steer the vehicle into the correct lane and as the two struggled for control of the wheel the pickup truck hit the victim’s car. Allen supposedly told the police that not long before the accident she injected herself with Heroin. She also admitted to drinking heavily. The case is currently being prosecuted in the Wareham District Court.

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Wareham, Massachusetts Criminal Defense Law Firm

Lawyers Who Defend Motor Vehicle Homicide Cases in Plymouth County

Motor Vehicle Homicide in Massachusetts is a felony proscribed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24G. The law states that anyone operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs who causes death to another can be punished by up to fifteen years in state prison. A conviction for this offense mandates a one year jail sentence. There is also a fifteen year loss of license for anyone convicted of this offense. Interestingly enough, the district attorney could have charged Allen with manslaughter based on the same conduct. A conviction for manslaughter would carry a possible twenty year state prison sentence. Massachusetts courts have stated that the Motor Vehicle Homicide statute was designed to find a middle ground between manslaughter and Operating to Endanger.

As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I can see where Allen’s case might be difficult to defend successfully. There are several hurdles she has to overcome, which in the circumstances of this case will be tough to jump. Allen will have to show that the accident was not her fault. The district attorney will likely have an accident reconstructionist engaged. If they determine Allen was at fault then she will have to overcome the factor of impairment. This involves first challenging the admissibility of her admissions to the police, then trying to exclude as evidence the breathalyzer or blood test. Allen’s passenger’s recollection of the events might help with her defense depending on the testimony that person can provide and his or her credibility. Allen has a tough fight ahead of her.

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According to a local news report, Kevin Carmichael, a karate instructor at a Braintree karate studio has been charged with Indecent Assault and Battery. Authorities allege that the acts occurred recently. Apparently Carmichael was asked to meet with Braintree Police detective two days ago. He agreed. Afterwards he was charged with Indecent Assault and Battery. Bail was set in the amount of twenty five thousand dollars. The case is currently pending in the Quincy District Court. No details of the alleged assault have been reported nor are there allegations that Carmichael did this to other victims.

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Braintree, Massachusetts Sex Crimes Defense Law Firm

Lawyer Who Defend Indecent Assault and Battery Cases in Massachusetts

In order for the district attorney to prove someone guilty of Indecent Assault and Battery in Massachusetts he must six elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The first element involves the victim’s age. Massachusetts charges this crime in accordance with the victim’s age. The threshold age is fourteen so depending on the crime alleged; i.e. Indecent Assault and Battery on a Person Under the Age of 14 or Indecent Assault and Battery on a Person Over the age of 14 this element must be established. The second element is that the accused committed an Assault and Battery. The third element involves the indecent aspect of the case. The prosecutor must prove that the defendant used force to commit the indecent touching which involves the following: if victim is male, the genital area, buttocks or pubic area. If the victim is female, the breasts, thighs, pubic area, genitals or buttocks. The term indecent is evaluated in the context of the case. It is fact specific. Fourth, the prosecutor must show intent on the part of the defendant. Fifth, the touching must be offensive or harmful and last, there can be no justification or excuse for the act.

For a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer the third element is fertile ground for absolving a client. Many of the cases involving these charges focus their defense on the actual nature of the act, not the fact that a touching occurred. People are touched in many ways every day. Some people are more affectionate than others. They are comfortable making physical contact with others or “touching” them. While the alleged victim might perceive the touching to be offensive the defendant may not have intended it that way. This is one factor that helps determine whether or not to go to trial on a case like this. In this case, much of the defense will hinge on what Carmichael told the police on Saturday. Hopefully he said nothing, or very little. As I have written and told my clients on countless occasions, keep your mouth shut. You cannot talk your way out of being charged criminally. You can only make matters worse for yourself.

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A lengthy investigation into Revere Blood gang activities led to the arrest of fifteen men from various parts of Massachusetts including Revere, Lynn and New Bedford. It is alleged that various gang members were involved in gun and drug sales in Suffolk County and Essex County. Nine of the defendants have been charged with Federal Drug Crimes. The remaining six have been charged in state courts in Boston and Salem, Massachusetts. The charges for each vary and include Trafficking Cocaine, Trafficking Heroin, Firearms Charges and Counterfeit Drugs. Many of the accused have prior drug convictions. Conspiracy is another charge that many of the defendants face.

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Massachusetts Federal Drug Crimes Defense Law Firm

Lawyers Who Defend Drug Cases in Revere and Lynn, Massachusetts

While the article is not clear as to what charges each defendant faces I imagine that the charges in Federal Court are more severe than those filed in state court. The combination of drugs and guns as the basis for a criminal charge in Federal Court can be devastating. For example, 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) mandates a consecutive sentence if a firearm is used in connection with a drug trafficking case. This law requires someone convicted of the offenses to first serve jail time on the drug case and then to serve time on the gun charge. The minimum mandatory sentence on such a case is five years from and after the drug charge and up to thirty years. The sentence increases in accordance with the type of firearm that was possessed. Possessing the gun as opposed to brandishing or actually shooting the gun also effect the length of sentence. This law is much more severe than Massachusetts state laws prohibiting the same conduct. As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I imagine that the cases against the people charged in federal court carry those sentence enhancements.

It is difficult to assess possible defenses for the accused in these cases due to the lack of detail in the article. Factors that trigger the defenses include the defendant’s actual role in the criminal enterprise; i.e. was this someone who was caught selling drugs and guns or simply someone who was at the homes that were searched when the warrants were executed. The quantity of drugs found on an individual often guides defenses. For instance, someone with a history of drug possession convictions or with a documented drug abuse history might be able to claim possession rather than an intent to sell drugs if the quantity in his or her possession is consistent with their drug habits. The presence of Drug Distribution Paraphernalia factors into the analysis of the defendant’s intent as does the presence of absence of drug ingestion devices.

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Today, in E.C.O. v. Compton, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court published a decision addressing the Massachusetts Restraining Order Law as well as the age of consent for sexual activity in the Commonwealth. The facts of the case are as follows:

About a year and a half ago a sixteen year old girl from Massachusetts was traveling overseas with some family members. She met the defendant who was twenty four at the time. The girl lied about her age. After returning to Massachusetts the girl and the defendant maintained contact through email, texts and social media. The communications revealed a level of intimacy between the parties that contained sexual undertones. The defendant and the girl planned to meet in Massachusetts in October of 2011. There were discussions about sex and an express intention to spend time together in a hotel room. In preparation of that meeting the defendant rented a hotel room. Learning of this plan the girl’s father applied for a Restraining Order against the defendant. When the defendant arrived in Massachusetts he was served. The daughter never appeared in court. Her father did. He gave the judge copies of the electronic communications. The father conceded that the defendant never harmed or threatened the girl nor did he in any way coerce her to having sexual relations. The judge sitting in the Salem District Court extended the order for one year. The defendant appealed.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed the order. In doing so it restated the standard for “abuse”, a necessary element for the issuance of a Restraining Order. In Massachusetts, the abuse necessary for a Restraining Order is defined as attempting to cause physical harm, causing physical harm, placing someone in fear of imminent serious physical harm or causing someone to engage in sexual relations. In this case the father agreed that the defendant did not harm his daughter nor did he attempt to do so. Furthermore, at not time did he force the girl to engage in involuntary sexual relations. Consequently the order should not have been extended. The Court reiterated that the age one can consent to having sex in Massachusetts is sixteen, the girl’s age at all relevant times.

It is clear that the plaintiff in this case, the girl’s father applied for the Restraining Order in an effort to keep his daughter from seeing the defendant. This action constitutes an improper use of the Massachusetts Restraining Order Statute. The statute was designed to prevent abuse, not to put a halt to relationships that parents find inappropriate. As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer it surprises me that this order issued in the first place. I imagine that the affidavit supporting the Restraining Order application referenced the intention of the defendant to supply the girl with alcohol, thus prompting the judge to issue the order to protect potential abuse.

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About two months ago a police officers were looking for a car reported stolen. Shortly thereafter officers located a vehicle fitting the description of the Stolen Car. The police followed the car and a chase ensued. The stolen vehicle supposedly reached speeds of one hundred ten miles per hour. The chase was called off but the vehicle continued at a high rate of speed and ultimately crashed. The driver of the car, a woman somehow managed to escape the wreckage and fled to a nearby building. There she tried to conceal her identity by dressing up as a janitor. The woman was apprehended. While being transported she admitted to driving the car but claimed that over the previous four day period she was involuntarily injected with Heroin and given Methamphetamine. She was then told to get into the stolen car, to drive and not to stop. The woman was charged with Larceny of a Motor Vehicle, Operating to Endanger and other Motor Vehicle Offenses. Ironically, she was not charged with any Drug Crimes; i.e. Possession of Heroin or Possession of Methamphetamine.

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Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crimes Defense Law Firm

Larceny of a Motor Vehicle Defense Lawyer, Massachusetts
Involuntary Intoxication is a defense to criminal accusations in Massachusetts. There is a Massachusetts on point that supports the woman’s contention in this case; Commonwealth v. Darch. That case states that if someone “is compelled to ingest intoxicants unwillingly” he or she can defend the allegations on the theory of involuntary intoxication. In Massachusetts, to overcome this defense the district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s intoxication was voluntary. This defense can be successful if the defendant gets a blood test or someone can corroborate the position that someone drug the accused. As a practical matter, for this defense to work the defendant is going to need a lot more than a statement such as the one made by the defendant in this case. Here is what I see as a problem with the defense in this case. The chase starts once the police start following the car thereby suggesting that the defendant knew the car to be stolen. After the car crashed the defendant took deliberate actions to avoid detection. She fled to a nearby building. She used a disguise to avert detection. Then, she gave a detailed description of how she was drugged; something that a drugged out person would be unable to do. Finally, there was no suggestion other than her words that drugs were involved in this activity.

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Just two days ago, two separate arrests were made on Route 84 in Worcester County, Massachusetts. The first case involved a van that was pulled over around 5:40 in the morning. The passenger, Ramon Suero was arrested after Massachusetts State Police found a kilogram of cocaine secreted in his clothing. Troopers also found over twenty eight thousand dollars in the van. Several hours later, on the same road, another vehicle was pulled over. It is alleged that the driver, Carlos Vargas was speeding. It was soon learned that Vargas’ driver’s license had been suspended. He was arrested. A subsequent search of his car resulted in the seizure of over two hundred grams of heroin, one pound of marijuana and some pills. The cases will be prosecuted in the Worcester Superior Court.

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http://www.necn.com/03/06/13/2-NYC-men-arraigned-on-drug-trafficking-/landing.html?blockID=833859&feedID=11106

Worcester, Massachusetts Drug Trafficking Defense Law Firm

Cocaine, Heroin Trafficking Defense Lawyer in Worcester

Both of these men have been charged with serious Massachusetts Drug Crimes. Suero is facing charges of Trafficking Cocaine in Excess of 200 Grams. The minimum mandatory sentence after a conviction for that offense is fifteen years in state prison. Vargas too is facing a fifteen-year minimum mandatory sentence for Trafficking Heroin Over 200 Grams. As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I see some distinct differences between these cases. The more difficult case to defend seems to be Vargas’. The police have the right to arrest someone driving with a suspended license. With that right comes the right to search the individual and to tow the vehicle. The towed vehicle can be searched. The search is known as an “inventory search”. This type of search permits law enforcement to search a lawfully impounded motor vehicle. In order to do so however the police must have a written procedure on how to do so and this procedure must be followed. Typically in cases like Vargas’ the pretrial issues focus on suppressing the search due to an improper search, one that violated the inventory search policy of the department. Should the case go to trial, the focus will be on Vargas’ knowledge of the presence of the drugs in the car.

Suero’s case is much different. As a passenger there must be a lawful purpose for him having been searched. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that there must be a reasonable basis particular to the passenger to conclude that he or she is armed and a danger before the search will be validated. So exactly did Suero do in this case? Nothing according to this article. So whey then was he searched? I imagine that the basis for his defense will be the legality stop, Search and Seizure of the drugs.

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On March 1, 2013 in Commonwealth v. Doyle, 11-P-1779 the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed a conviction for Malicious Destruction of Property Over $250. In Doyle the following facts were presented to a jury: On October26, 2010 Boston Police responded to a call in Dorchester where an ATM machine had been broken into. Upon arrival they encountered an individual who pointed to Doyle. Doyle was carrying a large duffel bag. As officers went towards him he fled. Doyle was caught. The duffel bag was searched. Inside the police found tools believed to be used to break into ATM machines. Doyle was charged with Malicious Destruction to Property Over $250, Breaking and Entering and Possession of Burglarious Tools. The jury convicted Doyle on all counts.

As to the Malicious Destruction charge, Doyle claimed that the district attorney lacked sufficient evidence to establish the element of malice and that there was no evidence as to the value of the ATM machine. The issue of the ATM machine’s value was not addressed by the Appeals Court. Instead, the court held that the evidence adduced by the prosecution did not satisfy the element of malice.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 127 states that anyone who destroys property of another willfully and maliciously is guilty of a crime. If the value of the property destroyed exceeds two hundred fifty dollars the crime is a felony and the potential sentence is ten years in state prison. Malice is ìa state of mind of cruelty, hostility or revenge.” In this case the act of damaging the property was done for the purpose of breaking into the ATM machine and nothing more. In other words, damage to the property had to be done in order for the act to be committed. . . at least in the manner Doyle committed the act. The Appeals Court drew its authority from another Massachusetts Appeals Court case, Commonwealth v. Redmond, 53 Mass.App.Ct. 1 (2001). In Redmond, the defendant’s goal was to steal computer equipment. To do so, he needed to destroy property (a door, window, alarm system) to get to the property he wanted to steal. This conduct was not deemed malicious, rather it was necessary to achieve his ultimate criminal goal. The incidental or necessary property damage was deemed “the adventitious by-product of a wholly discrete criminal enterprise”.

As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I can tell you that anytime there is damage to property incidental to another intended crime, Malicious Destruction to Property is charged. An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer will see the duplicative unsupported charge and immediately move to have that count dismissed. Keep in mind that any conviction can adversely impact someone’s future and eliminating all counts possible in a complaint cannot be overlooked.

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For the second time in two years a Massachusetts Drug Task Force has made an arrest of a Bridgewater State College student for a Massachusetts Drug Crime. For about one month law enforcement have been watching 37 Hale Street in Bridgewater. The address is home to a sophomore from Milbury, Massachusetts. It is alleged that law enforcement began their investigation after receiving anonymous tips. Additionally, police knew about the house as they had been called on several occasions after excessive noise from parties was reported. Once the investigation began officers conducted surveillance during which heavy foot traffic in and out of the house was noted. A Search Warrant was obtained and this past Tuesday, early in the morning the warrant was executed. During the search officers located their target as well as a pound of marijuana and over one thousand dollars identified as proceeds from drug deals. The police also seized Drug Paraphernalia believed to be used to weigh and package the substance. The target defendant was arrested. His two roommates received summonses to appear at a later date. The charges now filed are Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana, a Class D Substance. The case is pending in the Brockton District Court.

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Brockton, Massachusetts Marijuana Distribution Defense Law Firm

Lawyers Who Defend Drug Crimes Charges in Bridgewater, Massachusetts

The defendant in this case is very lucky for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the charges fall short of Trafficking Marijuana. The amount of marijuana found is minimal by legal standards. Additionally, there is no School Zone Violation charged here as presumably the activity occurred outside of the prohibited area. These Drug Task Force operations tend to yield greater quantities of drugs. Take for example the last such case involving a Bridgewater State College student. There, jail time was imposed in that the quantity of drugs and types of drugs permitted a greater sentence. In this case I can see an Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer working out some sort of resolution that will leave the target defendant and the two roommates without a criminal record. This would probably be a continuance without a finding.

Here are some other thoughts. I imagine that an informant was used by the task force. Perhaps this is the person who initially alerted law enforcement to the illegal activity. However, more than this tip is needed to get a Search Warrant. Thus, one would think that there was either a controlled buy made at the target home or that one or more of the purchasers were caught leaving the property with recently purchased marijuana. These people usually buckle and provide the police with the information they need to establish probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant. If I am correct, and this is how the warrant was obtained, there may be some opportunity to challenge the legality of the search.

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Just after noon on Monday, Maximo Velasquez, a twenty-seven year old man from Dorchester, Massachusetts was stopped after he supposedly drove through a stop sign in Quincy. At the time Velasquez was driving a Mercedes that had been rented to someone else. The police asked Velasquez to produce his driver’s license. When he did officers learned that he had a pending Massachusetts Drug Case open against him. Subsequently the car was searched. During the search officers found seventeen grams of Heroin. The drugs were concealed in condoms hidden in the rear brake light compartment. It is further alleged that Velasquez had in his possession one gram of Cocaine. Right now he has been charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute Heroin, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and a Massachusetts Cocaine Charge. The case is pending in the Quincy District Court.

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Quincy, Massachusetts Heroin Distribution Defense Law Firm

Lawyers Who Defend Drug Cases in Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts

As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I am always suspicious when I read an article like this one. I ask myself why it is that all drug dealers caught in a car with drugs commit Motor Vehicle Offenses that justify the initial stop of the car. Rarely is that actually the case. Most of my clients insist that they were pulled over for no reason at all. Prior to 9/11 this was difficult to prove. It was the police officer’s word against my client’s. But now things have changed. Almost everywhere you look you can find a video security camera. If you figure out which business or entity owns the camera you can ask for footage or get a subpoena from the judge to access this material. And guess what? You will be surprised at just how many of these “Motor Vehicle Offenses” never actually occurred.

Relative to this case however, even going beyond the stop I am wondering what grounds the police had to make Velasquez wait while they went to get a dog to search the rental car. An open case does not give the police the right to detain someone and to search their property. Nor for that matter does driving a rental car that has been rented to someone else. It is conceivable that Velasquez’s name was on the rental car contract as someone permitted to drive the car. A challenge to the Search and Seizure in this case might prove fruitful for Velasquez. Here is something else to consider. Even if this case goes to trial, what evidence is there that Velasquez knew about the Heroin in the tail light compartment. Absolutely none. On so many grounds it appears that case might be very difficult for the district attorney to prove.

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