Massachusetts criminal defense Attorney Blog
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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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Today’s Lawrence Eagle Tribune report by Douglas Moser shows just how powerful a tool Social Media can be to law enforcement and to me as a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer. Moser wrote about a fight that broke out two nights ago at a basketball game between Methuen and Haverhill. Apparently the catalyst for the incident was texting and tagging following last Saturday’s Methuen, Haverhill hockey game. One Haverhill player took credit for hitting a Methuen player during the game. The incident may or may not have happened but nevertheless this person apparently followed up by “tagging” the Methuen student with threats. That same night a Haverhill girl claimed to have been struck by a Methuen girl at that game. Following the game tweets started to fly. Threats of retaliation targeting the Methuen, Haverhill basketball game were tweeted. Haverhill police got wind of the potential for problems and responded by beefing up their presence at the game. Sure enough, as the game progressed the tweeting exchanges intensified culminating in fights behind the school in a parking lot. In all, seven arrests were made. Six of the people arrested were charged with Disorderly Conduct. The seventh defendant was charged with Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon. The cases are pending in the Haverhill District Court.

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Haverhill, Massachusetts Assault and Battery Defense Law Firm

Massachusetts Lawyer Who Defends Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon Cases, Disorderly Person

It seems like any time I open a newspaper I read about someone using the Social Media in a manner that lands that person in trouble. This article perfectly illustrates just how stupid aggressive texting can be. Take for instance the Haverhill hockey player who was tagging the Methuen student with threats. That action in and of itself is a crime in Massachusetts known as Threatening to Commit a Crime or Threats. The flurry of threats of retaliation are criminally actionable in Massachusetts as well. I am willing to bet that there are several people attending these schools who have tweeted material constituting an admission to involvement in the fights. That could land them in hot water. People, especially younger people just don’t get it. A screen shot of the inculpatory tweets can suffice to launch a criminal investigation. As I have said on numerous occasions, don’t put anything in writing. Nothing good comes from it and at times your own written words can spell doom for your criminal case.

So what’s going to happen to the defendants in this case? Probably not much if they are properly represented. A dismissal with courts costs, pretrial probation or diversion prior to arraignment are all possibilities. None of this however would have happened had it not been for the nonsense tweeting/texting that followed the hockey game.

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Two days ago police in Taunton, Massachusetts were involved in an anti-prostitution operation. Acting in an undercover capacity one of the involved officers made eye contact with a woman. He then pulled into a parking lot to meet up with the woman. She walked up to his car and “asked if he wanted a date”. A fee of thirty dollars was negotiated. This resulted in the woman, Erica Jeremiah being arrested. She was charged with Sex for a Fee. In another incident officers went to investigate a complaint of a sexual nature. They met with a women, Lisa Marie Her. She claimed that a cab driver pressured her to perform oral sex on him in order to forgive an owed fare. Officers met with the cab driver, seventy six year old Robert Ferreira. Ferreira admitted to being engaging in two such incidents, one with Her, the other with Suzanne Charland however he denied pressuring the women. Ferreira told the police that in addition to forgiving the fares he paid an additional twenty dollars to each woman. Ferreira told the police that he and Charland had this arrangement for the past two years. Ferreira, Her and Charland were all charged with Sex for a Fee. All matters are pending in the Taunton District Court.

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Taunton, Massachusetts Prostitution Defense Law Firm

Massachusetts Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer, Prostitution, Sexual Conduct for a Fee

The law prohibiting this conduct and presumably with which all defendants have been charged is Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 53A. The first section of that law states that anyone agreeing to engage in sexual conduct for a fee can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by up to one year in jail. There is no need to actually engage in a sexual act to be in violation of this law. The next section of that law makes it illegal to pay for sex or offer to pay for sex. A conviction of this portion of the statute provides for a two year sentence.

So, as an Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer here is how I see these cases. Depending on her record Jeremiah may end up with anything from a dismissal to a conviction with the possibilities of pretrial probation and a continuance without a finding quite likely. She has to overcome the testimony of a police officer who will testify that she was seeking money in exchange for sexual services. The other cases are much different. Neither Her, nor Charland nor Ferreira were caught in the act. Admissions to the commission of crimes absent some sort of corroboration do not provide enough evidence for a conviction to stand. It was really silly for Her to call the police if in fact she had been engaging in the acts as suggested by Ferreira. Similarly, it was unnecessary for him to have spoken with the police. However, both now have Fifth Amendment privileges that will further frustrate efforts to convict them. And it seems like Charland has no problems at all. Ferreira will not testify against her and she was not caught engaging in criminal activity.

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Just a few days ago Search Warrants were executed at two apartments located at 50 Harrison Avenue in Taunton, Massachusetts. In all, eight men and two women were charged with Massachusetts Drug Conspiracy, Trafficking in Heroin Over 100 Grams and a Massachusetts School Zone Violation. Five of the defendants were arrested during the execution of the Search Warrants. The other five were seen at the apartments shortly before the searches. They were located in a car just blocks from the apartments. Authorities stated that the heroin was found in three locations. Just over seventeen grams was found in a toilet bowl in one of the apartments. Just over thirty one grams of heroin was found in the possession of one of the defendants, Juan Jimenez. Just over fifty seven grams of heroin was thrown out of one of the apartments and lodged in the snow. Defendant Jaime Sanchez was found in possession of ten thousand dollars cash. Sanchez, Marques McCassie and Jose Quiles were named on the Search Warrants as targets of the investigation. The remaining defendants, Flavio Daviega, Antwunn Romell Jones, Felicia Lopes, Kelly Bulris and Agustin Roldan were apparently arrested due to a perceived association with the people who possessed the drugs. Five other people were also in one of the apartments, none of whom were charged.

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Taunton, Massachusetts Heroin Trafficking Defense Law Firm

Bristol County Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer, Drug Trafficking, Conspiracy

So lets just break this down in a manner most favorable to the prosecution. Jimenez might have problems due to his possession of a quantity of Heroin sufficient to satisfy the Trafficking threshold. Sanchez could be in trouble given his possession of a significant amount of cash. Lopes was found in Possession of a Class B Drug but this does not mean that she had Drug Trafficking intentions. And what about the remaining defendants, Bulris, Jones, Daviega, Roldan, Quiles and McCassie? Well, proving a drug case in Massachusetts against the five in the car will be difficult. Just because they were at the apartment does not mean that they had any involvement in drug dealing. After all, what exactly is the district attorney going to say that they did? Were they buying drugs? Probably not particularly if they did not have drugs on them or drugs in their presence in the car. Are they going to be accused of selling to the people in the apartment? Again, probably not. There is no proof that they sold to these people and one would think that since the apartments were the subject of a Search Warrant the police believed that drugs were being sold at that location, not purchased by the occupants of the apartments. If these people kept their mouths shut and they Hire an Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer they might be fully acquitted. Perhaps the cases against them will be dismissed.

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A bill was recently filed with the Massachusetts Legislature calling for asset forfeiture provisions in certain Massachusetts Sex Crimes. The law would permit the police and the district attorney’s office prosecuting these crimes to seize property; i.e. cash and real estate from people who are convicted of Massachusetts Child Pornography Crimes and Massachusetts Child Enticement Crimes. The bill is sponsored by Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and Massachusetts State Senator Barry Finegold. The proceeds from the successful forfeiture actions would be used to better fund Cyber Crimes Units throughout the Commonwealth. Prosecutors now complain that they are understaffed and underfunded in their efforts to curb this type of criminal activity. If passed this law will likely bring millions of dollars to local and state police departments and to the district attorneys offices prosecuting these crimes.

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Massachusetts Child Pornography Defense Law Firm

Lawyers Who Defend Sex Crimes in Massachusetts

If this law resembles the Massachusetts Drug Forfeiture Law (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94C Section 47) it will probably enable the prosecution to seize the following property in Massachusetts: all electronic equipment used to facilitate the illegal activity; any property used to transport, conceal, manufacture and in any way distribute the material; all real estate used to facilitate the crime; all money made in connection with the commission of the crime and more. Similar to the drug forfeiture law I would imagine that the property owner must either have known or should have known that the illicit activities were occurring at his home. In other words, if the home owner is renting to the accused or is the defendant’s parent, forfeiture might not apply provided that that person was unaware of the activities. The intended purpose of this act would be to deprive criminals of the tools by which they conduct their illegal activities. There would be a civil proceeding wherein a judge would make the determination of whether or not to order the property forfeited.

So as a practical matter how would this law work? Anytime someone was convicted of committing a Massachusetts Child Pornography Crime the prosecuting body would look to see if the defendant owned property and if there was any way to link that property to the commission of the offense. The property most vulnerable to seizure would be the defendant’s home. Unlike Massachusetts Drug Cases, the presence of cash and vehicle ownership are less likely the type of property that would facilitate the commission of these crimes. The convicted defendant would served with a complaint for forfeiture. There would be an opportunity to defend the action which would ultimately be decided by a judge. It is interesting that the article discussing this proposal suggests that the primary purpose behind the law is to fund law enforcement activities that fight Child Pornography Crimes. I would think the law would serve as a deterrent given the added penalty associated with a conviction.

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Last week in Commonwealth v. Scott, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court discussed the concept of Serious Bodily Injury in connection with the crime of Assault and Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury. See Commonwealth v. Scott.

The facts of the case are as follows:

In 2006 the defendant and the victim had two children together. The couple did not live together. On October 23, 2006 the defendant went to the victim’s home. He accused her of seeing someone else. She admitted to doing so. The defendant punched the victim in the face and stomach. Neither that night nor the next day would the defendant permit the victim to leave her home. During that time the beatings continued. Eventually the police were called to the home. The defendant fled. The victim was taken to the hospital where it was determined that, among other things she had sustained a “grade II” lacerated liver. At trial the prosecution advanced the theory that the defendant’s punches to the victim’s stomach caused the damage to the liver. The district attorney drew authority from Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 13(b)(i) which makes it a crime to commit an Assault and Battery that causes Serious Bodily Injury. Under this statute Serious Bodily Injury is defined as causing loss or impairment of an organ. Of applicable significance to Commonwealth v. Scott is the word “impairment”. The court reasoned that impairment of an organ, therefore, occurs when damage to the structure of the organ is significant enough to compromise its ability to perform its function in the victim’s body.” Absent expert testimony explaining the nature and extent of the liver injury, or medical records identifying the same, the jury could not have found, without speculation the presence of this element. The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that the defendant’s motion for a required finding of not guilty should have been allowed. The verdict as to this indictment was reversed.

The use of expert witnesses in Massachusetts Criminal Cases is often necessary for the accused to succeed in defending his or her case. Our office has used expert witnesses for all types of criminal cases; OUI cases, Rape, Drug Offenses, Theft Crimes and more. Sometimes experts are used to provide reports that assist a judge in determining how someone who is convicted or pleads guilty should be sentenced. Expert witnesses can educate jurors, corroborate defense theories, counter prosecution experts and help to exclude evidence that should not be presented to a jury. In this case the fact that the Commonwealth’s case could not survive without an expert does not mean that their engagement of an expert would have resulted in a successful prosecution. It might have been the other way around. A doctor’s testimony might have shown that there was no impairment and just maybe this is why the district attorney did not call an expert to trial.

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Not a day goes by where I don’t see of or hear of a criminal defendant in Massachusetts putting the final nails in his or her coffin by talking on the phone. No matter how smart or how stupid the accused, talking on the phone is going to cause you a major problem. Take a look at yesterday’s Boston Globe article written by Shelley Murphy about the James “Whitey” Bulger case. Murphy reported that in September of 2012 a conversation that Bulger had with his younger brother undermines the defense contention that Bulger was a government informant. The article quotes Bulger as saying that “I bought [expletive] information, I didn’t sell it,” and “I never gave them [expletive] information. Nothin’. Nothin.'” The purpose behind making those statements and the context of the statements is virtually meaningless. Rather, the content of what Bulger said is what is going to be more heavily weighed by either a judge or a jury when deciding whether or not to believe Bulger’s claim that he was a government informant.

Massachusetts Proposed Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2) states that the statement of a party opponent is admissible and is not hearsay. Case law in Massachusetts supports this concept and with limited exception any statement made by a defendant is admissible against him at trial. Most people awaiting trial understand this. Certainly those with substantial involvement with the legal system know 1) that their jail calls are being recorded and 2) that anything said by them during the course of those conversations can be used against them in court. Most jail telephones have a tape recorded warning advising the participants that the calls are being monitored. Any Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer will tell his client not to talk on the phone. Talking does no good. Whether you are accused of Rape, Robbery, Drug Trafficking, Child Pornography or any crime you have to remember to remain silent and never talk about the case. Keep in mind that the Constitution gives you the absolute to remain silent. Federal case law and Massachusetts law support this proposition. As I have mentioned in several previous posts, many of my clients would never have even been charged had then not opened their mouths. And those of them who continued to talk even after being charged with the crime complicated matters. The most famous case implicating the right to remain silent is the Miranda case. In 1963 Ernesto Miranda was convicted of multiple Sex Crimes. He confessed to these crimes and it was the confession, not the strength of the district attorney’s case that led to his conviction. In 1966 the United States Supreme Court reversed the conviction and held that Miranda’s rights had been violated. The Miranda case established the implementation of certain rights that must be afforded to anyone in custody being interrogated. It also reinforced the principle that criminal lawyers strongly embrace – – to keep your mouth shut.

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