Perhaps the most common complaint I get from clients about police officers involves stops, searches and seizures for apparently no reason. The client will tell me that he wasn’t doing anything and that the cops searched him anyway. Or someone might say that he was pulled over, removed from his car and that he and the car were searched. Now keep in mind none of these people would need my services unless the police found something during the illegal search that suggested a crime was committed. So the next question I get asked is “how can I prove that the police searched me for no reason?”. This article examines what criminal defense lawyers can do in these situations.
Not everyone who gets charged with a crime in Massachusetts was present at the time the crime was committed. There can be any number of reasons why this happens. Sometimes witnesses or the police are given the wrong name at the time the case is reported. This can be deliberate or simply a mistake. Other times people are charged because they own some property that is connected to the crime. For instance, owners or lessees of property can be charged with drug trafficking if their home was searched and drugs were found…even if they were not home at the time of the search. Similarly, the owner of a car might be charged with a crime in which the car was involved such as leaving the scene, hit and run or operating recklessly or to endanger…even if no one saw the car owner actually driving the vehicle. Under these circumstances and others I have had clients come into my office and ask “how can I be charged with a crime if I was somewhere else at the time”. This post offers some thoughts on this issue and how to avoid getting convicted.
Yesterday the father of a teenager accused of kidnapping, rape and other Massachusetts sex crimes was indicted for misleading a police investigation. Authorities alleged that the police requested Matthew Cyckowski surrender his son’s cell phone. Cyckowski provided his own instead. The crime proscribed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 268 Section 13B(1)(b)(iii) which provides in relevant part that anyone who misleads a police officer with the intent to obstruct that investigation is guilty of a felony and can be punished by up to ten years in prison. This post discusses this portion of that statute and concerns that may confront parents in similar cases. Continue reading →
Most criminal cases in Massachusetts are resolved without the need to go to trial. Cases get dismissed, evidence gets suppressed, people get pretrial probation and some people plead guilty to their criminal charges. The majority of cases resolved in the Massachusetts district courts are continued without a finding. In essence that means that the accused admits to sufficient facts, or pleads guilty to those facts that support the underlying criminal offense. The judge refuses to accept the admission or plea. Instead, the case gets continued for a period of time during which you are, for all practical purposes on probation. If you successfully complete the probation the case gets dismissed. At that point you can swear on job applications or elsewhere, and under the pains and penalties of perjury, that you have no criminal record. For most people this is a great result. For others it can be a disaster. This post addresses the question “will a continuance without a finding (cwof) affect a professional license?
Earlier today I was reading an article in the Lowell Sun about a “major” drug dealer arrested and charged with a multitude of drug and gun crimes. A suburban task force targeted a twenty-eight year old Groton man, Shane Conley, as dealing various controlled substances. Armed with a search warrant the police entered Conley’s home yesterday and found pills and marijuana. The total amount of drugs seized was insufficient to charge Conley with trafficking. Also found during the search was a sawed off .22 caliber rifle and some ammunition. Mr. Conley was charged with possession with intent to distribute Class A, Class D and Class E drugs as well as possession of a firearm. The case is currently pending in the Ayer District Court. Despite being viewed as a big case, not all major Massachusetts drug dealers will serve jail time. Perhaps the same will be true for this defendant.
Last week employees at an Arlington, Massachusetts restaurant called police to report “suspicious behavior”. Police went to the location where they located a camera concealed in a flower basket that was photographing women using the bathroom. The police arrested Joseph Hennessey and charged him with photographing an unsuspecting person in the nude as well as disturbing the peace. This crime has more recently been referred to as upskirting. The case is now pending in the Cambridge District Court.
Recently I was meeting with a new client who was charged, among other things with resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer. The defendant is a college student who was leaving a party in a Boston neighborhood. His story is unnerving and very common in Massachusetts, particularly for high school and college aged students. I have seen these facts frequently. Fortunately for my clients most district attorneys are familiar with this scenario and the resolution for the accused is typically favorable. Here is the young man’s story, the defenses to the case and the ultimate result.
This past weekend police in Amesbury, Massachusetts executed a search warrant at a home in a quiet residential neighborhood. At home during the raid, and charged with various drug crimes were Christopher Doty and Kristen Cataldo, both in their mid twenties. The search warrant was issued after police had obtained information regarding drug activity in the home. The information apparently came from informants and possibly a sustained surveillance or controlled drug buys. The defendants have been charged with an assortment of crimes including possession with the intent to distribute class A and class B drugs, assault and battery on a police officer, child endangerment and possession of a dangerous weapon.
Countless times in the past I have written posts about clients who never would have been charged with a crime had they just kept their mouths shut and not spoken to the police. Many of these people though they could talk their way out of criminal charges. They were wrong. Others thought they did nothing and therefore had nothing to lose by talking to the cops. They were wrong. Some of these people listened to the cops who “suggested” they waive any constitutional rights and speak with them. They too were wrong. There are many instances where clients have told me that “the cops tricked me into talking to them”. This post discusses a recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case where that tactic resulted in a partial reversal of a criminal conviction.
One of the toughest decisions defendants in criminal cases have to make is whether or not to go to trial on their case. Some people have no choice. They have been charged with a crime where there is a minimum mandatory sentence as with drug trafficking cases and the district attorney refuses to break the case down. Or, perhaps the case is one that cannot be continued without a finding and a guilty finding will result in a loss of employment or the loss of a professional license. In those instances the decision is easy. Go to trial and hope for an acquittal. Most of the time however the decision is not that easy and the defendant has to weigh the pros and cons of going to trial. When my clients consult with me about this decision the one question they always ask “will my sentence by worse if I go to trial and lose?”.