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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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Last week a grand jury sitting in Plymouth County charged Mister T. Hood with three counts of Distribution of Cocaine, Subsequent Offense. It is alleged that Hood committed these crimes in mid-December. He was arrested in connection with a massive drug investigation that led to the arrests of over twenty people. Hood’s prior convictions are from 2002, 2005 and 2009. Hood’s arrest stems from “Operation Clean Sweep”. Out of the twenty plus people arrested from that operation only Hood and one other have been indicted. This case will be prosecuted in the Brockton Superior Court.

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Brockton, Massachusetts Drug Distribution Law Firm

Lawyers Who Defend Drug Cases in Brockton

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94C Section 32A(b) states that anyone who is convicted of distributing cocaine and has one or more prior such convictions shall serve at least a two year state prison sentence. There is a maximum ten year state prison sentence authorized. So assuming this is the statute under which Hood has been indicted you might ask why bring a case like this one to superior court. After all, there are ways to get that kind of time through a conviction in the district court. Well, there could be countless reasons for the indictment but in this case I imagine Hood’s criminal history had a significant impact on this decision. Not only does he have three prior convictions but convictions for Massachusetts Violent Crimes (Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon) and, he beat a murder charge. Or perhaps Hood is viewed as the more dominant player in this sweep and the indictment is designed as a deterrent to warn others not to continue with these activities.

As an experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I have noticed that absent some sort of concrete evidence such as a surveillance videotape jurors do not like to convict people who were not arrested at the time of the offense. The district attorney prosecuting these cases relies on an officer or cooperating person stating what they saw Hood do. Yet, there is no immediate arrest. Rather, they permit him to continue dealing drugs and then, at least in this case, make an arrest eight days later. That does not sit well with jurors. It also enables the accused to establish an alibi or alibis showing that he was nowhere in the area at the time of the alleged criminal activity. Investigations like this are risky and the police rely on getting most of the people who are arrested to plead guilty or cooperate. The article referenced above identifies five people who have already pleaded guilty to the crimes for which they were charged.

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Gordon Lagstrom of Middleboro, Massachusetts was arraigned at the Wareham District Court yesterday on charges of Animal Cruelty, Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated and Discharging a Firearm Within Five Hundred Feet of a Building. According to a report in the Brockton Enterprise, Lagstrom brought his dog to a veterinarian for emergency help after the dog had sustained a gunshot wound. Lagstrom asked for help for the animal. A police officer responded to the veterinary clinic and formed the opinion that Lagstrom had been drinking. After some questioning the defendant admitted to shooting the dog accidentally believing that someone was trying to get into his home. Officers continued to investigate and found a trail of blood starting in the yard, leading to the defendant’s home and ending in Lagstrom’s living room floor. Officers then found two guns, one loaded and neither properly stored. If indicted, this case will be prosecuted in the Plymouth County Superior Court.

Wareham, Massachusetts Firearm Possession Defense

Massachusetts Gun Crimes Lawyer

The Animal Cruelty statute in Massachusetts is broad. The law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 77 prohibits the following acts: overworking animals, beating animals, killing animals, starving animals, torturing them, mutilating them and more. A conviction for the commission of this offense carries a possible five year state prison sentence. I have seen many of these cases prosecuted in Massachusetts for the past twenty years. Massachusetts district attorneys take these matters quite seriously and often request jail time for someone found guilty of this crime. At least as suggested in this article Lagstrom will have some problems. He will first have to show that the police officer’s theory about where the dog was shot was incorrect. Either that or the defendant will have to adduce facts that support his statement that someone was trying to get into his home when he accidentally shot the dog. The blood trail and forensic evidence, i.e. gunshot residue, location of any shell casings and items of that nature will have to match up with his statement. A firearms expert and/or perhaps a blood spatter expert will be useful if the defendant continues with this defense.

The firearms cases are somewhat different in terms of a defense. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 10H prohibits anyone from carrying a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The standard for “under the influence” is the same as for OUI cases. A conviction for this crime carries a potential two and one half year house of correction sentence. This crime is not often prosecuted. As a matter of fact, as of today Lexis shows that there are not reported decisions dealing with this crime.

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According to a report in the Brockton Enterprise Paul Perelli met up with defendant Eddy Monteiro, a Brockton, Massachusetts resident at Perelli’s home in Marshfield. It is alleged that Monteiro owed Perelli one hundred fifty dollars and wanted to settle the debt. Monteiro and Perelli, along with Michael Capps and Stephen Burton smoked some marijuana together. Shortly thereafter, two unknown men arrived, bound Perelli, Capps and Burton and pistol whipped Capps. Monteiro allegedly participated with them as well. Perelli called the police. When they arrived they found “an elaborate indoor marijuana-growing operation, complete with hydroponic tanks for growing plants”. Monteiro was arrested and charged with Home Invasion with a Firearm and several counts of Armed Assault in a Dwelling. His case is pending in the Plymouth District Court. Perelli and/or his friends may have problems as well. The article reports that the police seized two pounds of pot and several thousand dollars cash.

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Plymouth Home Invasion Defense Law Firm

Brockton Violent Crimes Defense Lawyer, Gun Cases, Marijuana Distribution

Any Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer reading this article is going to ask why Perelli called the cops. Either Perelli, Capps or Burton or perhaps all three have exposure for Cultivating Marijuana or Possession With the Intent to Distribute stemming from their marijuana growing operation. The penalty for a conviction of these Massachusetts Marijuana Crimes pales in comparison to the sentence Monteiro and his cohorts face if convicted of the Home Invasion. Yet you have to wonder why Perelli made the call. Was this in fact the drug rip that is portrayed in this article? Or was this a drug deal that went bad? On several occasions I have defended cases that look at the outset like the accused was trying to rob a known dealer. However every time these cases get more closely investigate I learn that not to be the case. There is usually some sort of mutual dispute that escalates. Someone then tries to get the upper hand by making an accusation about something like a Home Invasion. The person making the report wants the police to believe that he is the victim and does what he can to get that person in custody as a way of getting out of the dispute. This tactic doesn’t always work. An experience criminal lawyer can expose the false accusation. Text conversations between Monteiro and Perelli can shed some light on what really happened here as can text messages between Monteiro and has unidentified “friends”. Perhaps these people too had memorialized conversations with Perelli thereby suggesting that they were not unknown to him. All of this will rear its head during the discovery process and might serve Monteiro’s defense well.

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Patrick O’Neill of Weymouth, Massachusetts was arrested last week and charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute Oxycodone, Distribution of Oxycodone, a School Zone Violation and Drug Conspiracy. An investigation into O’Neill’s activities started several weeks. Neighbors complained to the police that they believed O’Neill was dealing drugs. Following up on their leads the police watched O’Neill and his home. They applied for and obtained a Search Warrant. Then, last Thursday afternoon police stopped O’Neill as he left his apartment. They searched him and found him in Possession of Oxycodone and cash. They then searched his home. They found more pills. All charges are pending in the Quincy District Court. Bail was set in the amount of twenty five thousand dollars.

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Quincy, Massachusetts Drug Distribution Defense Law Firm

Lawyers Who Defend Oxycodone Drug Offenses in Massachusetts

Every Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer who defends drug cases is seeing more and more cases like this one. The anonymous “complaining neighbor” is becoming a fixture in Massachusetts drug detective’s police reports. From a legal perspective, the complaining neighbor takes on the status of an anonymous informant. This person’s veracity must be established in order for the district attorney to survive a challenge to the issuance of the Search Warrant. To satisfy the veracity requirement, this type of information must be supported by precise detail and police corroboration of that detail. So what happened here? Assuming the police did actually receive the information from an anonymous neighbor they probably started watching O’Neill’s apartment. Their subsequent observations must have led them to conclude that O’Neill was dealing drugs. They probably stopped and interrogated people they saw meeting with O’Neill and used this information to enhance their investigation. They may have used an undercover officer or known informant to engage in a controlled buy from O’Neill. If this happened the officer’s observations would be provided in detail in their Affidavit in Support of the Application for a Search Warrant. Much of this can be confirmed or contradicted by O’Neill’s lawyer if an attack on the Search Warrant is considered. If the police observations are simply general and conclusory suppression might be in order.

Sometimes the anonymous “complaining neighbor” does not exist. He is a fiction used by the police to help ensure that their Search Warrant Application is approved. Pretrial discovery motions and/or a private investigator can help to determine whether or not these people actually exist. Suspicious Search Warrant Affidavit can result is a dismissal of a criminal case or suppression of the drugs seized. It is a criminal defense lawyers’ job to dig and challenge the information set out in these documents.

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