About six months ago the Massachusetts Legislature passed a law raising the age for adult prosecutions from seventeen to eighteen. The law had prospective application. There is however one school of thought that this law applies to cases that were pending at the time the law went into effect. Thus, a seventeen year old charged in adult court whose case was pending when the law passed could possibly have his case dismissed upon request. This is exactly what happened earlier this week when a Lowell criminal defense lawyer asked the judge to dismiss a breaking and entering case against her client. The crime was committed in July 2013. At that time the defendant was seventeen years old. He is now eighteen. The law became effective on September 18, 2013.
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You Need a Good Lawyer For Computer Crimes in Massachusetts As Throughout the Country These Are Being Taken More Seriously
While reading posts on my Google+ account today I noticed defendants in various parts of the country facing stiff sentences for computer related crimes. Take for instance the case of Jared James Abrahams, a nineteen year old California man and college student who recently pleaded guilty to a computer based extortion scheme. Abrahams was accused of taking over webcams by infecting computers with malware, then capturing the victims disrobing and extorting them for more photos under the threat of publishing the photos. It was also alleged that Abrahams demanded victims get onto Skype and do as he requested, again under the threat of exposing the illicitly accessed images. Abrahams is looking at thirty-three months in federal prison for the commission of these crimes. Victims identified on Abrahams computer equipment, one of whom was a minor, were from all over the world.
In another case, known computer hacker Jeremy Hammond could end up with a ten year sentence for hacking into computers and stealing tens of thousands of credit card numbers. The financial losses calculated by the government directly attributable to Hammond's actions could be reach two and one half million dollars. Hammond's lawyers claim that his efforts were part of his social activism, not for personal gain and not initiated maliciously. Rather, it was part of a nonviolent protest that should be punished as such. The government is seeking a sentence of ten years for Hammond, significantly more than the twenty months being requested by his legal team.
So what does this tell you about the state of computer crimes right now? Well obviously they are being taken very seriously by prosecutors. Both of these unrelated cases are being prosecuted by the federal government. The sentences being requested are staggering regardless of the motive or sensitivities of the defendants. Abrahams suffers from a documented case of autism for which he has been treated for over ten years. Hammond is motivated by social forces and has not profited from his actions. Nevertheless, prosecutors want blood. They want lengthy sentences. This trend is consistent not only in federal courts but in state courts including Massachusetts. The message district attorneys want to send is clear; virtual trespassing, no matter what the motive will not be tolerated and deserves sever punishment.
So how are these cases defended? Usually by challenging the validity of the search warrant the permits the police access to your electronic/computer equipment. Fight to show an absence of probable cause and improper issuance of the search warrant. Additionally, you might be able to defend these cases by showing that the government has failed to establish that you are in fact the person who committed the acts, regardless of what is on the computer.
Massachusetts Appeals Court Affirms Real Estate Fraud, Embezzlement Conviction Involving Contractor, Broker
A couple of days ago the Massachusetts Appeals Court issued its decision in Commonwealth v DeGennaro, a case involving theft, real estate fraud and embezzlement. As a factual backdrop the Court found the following:
In one instance, over a six week period the defendants received over forty eight thousand dollars in two installments from the victim. This money constituted the deposit for the construction of a new home. The defendants represented to the victims that the money would be kept in an interest bearing escrow account. Instead, the defendants deposited the money into their commercial checking accounts. They wrote checks from the account and depleted the money. None of the expenditures pertained to the victim's home construction. The construction never took place. The money was never returned. No home was built.
In another transaction the victim tendered checks in an amount more than fifty-five thousand dollars. Again, the victim understood that the defendants would use the money as a down payment for the construction of a house. In less than two months that account too was depleted. As with the first case, construction delays were negotiated and yet again no construction took place. The deposits were never returned to the victim.
In another matter, DeGennaro hired a subcontractor to install plumbing and heating for homes that he had built. The first check tendered to this victim by the defendants bounced. A subsequent check cleared. The victim continued to perform services but was never paid. This pattern repeated itself relative to another property where this victim was providing the same services for the defendants.
It is no surprise to me that the defendants in these cases were convicted. What does surprise me is that these cases were prosecuted criminally in the first place. These cases almost never get presented to law enforcement. The reason for that is simple. If the victim is correct and he was actually defrauded by the contractor the sum of money taken from him will motivate the district attorney to look for jail time after a conviction. There are not many defenses to cases with these fact patterns. Money was moved from one shell LLC to another. The funds were depleted not for construction purposes but for the enrichment of the defendants. No work was performed. This was nothing more than a scam that was repeated several times with several customers. Yet victims in these cases who consult lawyers will realize very quickly that if they go to law enforcement with their complaints a prosecution will ensue, there will likely be a felony conviction involving jail time and restitution will never be made. The victim will never get back his deposit. So what happens? Usually the builder will continue with his scheme, paying off one victim with funds stolen from another. If he gets lucky, in a good real estate market he might get a windfall with a construction project or housing development and be able to pay everybody back. Rarely do the builders come to the end of their rope as happened with DeGennaro. In his decision, Justice Sikora put it best when he wrote "This appeal requires interpretation of a seldom litigated criminal statute". It is seldom litigated because the victims know that they will never get paid if the defendant gets prosecuted.
West Roxbury Couple, Son Charged With Assorted Massachusetts Larceny Crimes Following Ponzi Scheme Investigation
According to a report on Boston.com Steven and Lori Palladino along with their son Gregory stole in excess of ten million dollars from forty-two victims some of whom are over the age of sixty. The Ponzi scheme, as it is being called, alleges that the Palladinos raised money through investors by promising large returns on the investment. Rather than investing the money however the defendants used the money to fund an extravagant lifestyle. The money was spent on lavish vacations, cars and gambling debts. A criminal usury charge was also filed alleging that Steven Palladino loaned money and charged a forty percent interest rate on the loan. There is also an allegation that Steven Palladino spent some of the money on a girlfriend. The Palladinos owned Viking Financial Group and were its only employees. Among the charges are Larceny Over $250, a felony and Larceny Over $250 with a victim over the age of sixty. If found guilty of the latter indictment the penalty can be enhanced. The younger Palladino was charged only recently in this case.
Lawyers Who Defend Usury Indictments in Massachusetts
A few thoughts come to mind when I read this article all of which are to me somewhat revealing about the district attorney's case. Number one. Why is this case being prosecuted by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office rather than by the feds? The answer probably has something to do with the strength of the government's case. It is the consensus among Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyers that in this district the feds cherry pick their cases. They prosecute only the strongest cases, those they believe they have very little chance of losing. Thus, there may be problems of proof for the district attorney. Number two. Why disclose to the public the facts about Steven Palladino having a girlfriend? I imagine the prosecution wants to create division in the family and possibly get Lori Palladino to agree to cooperate with the prosecution. If that is true, then again I question the strength of the prosecution's case or its belief that it can prevail on the indictments as charged. Number three. Why indict the Palladino's twenty-eight year old son? My answer is that in all probability the prosecution wants to squeeze the Palladinos. There is no instinct greater that that of a parent protecting a child. Most parents would die to protect their child. Again however, to me this signifies admitted weaknesses in the case against these defendants.
Massachusetts Appeals Court Explains Element of Maliciousness as it Reverses Conviction for Malicious Destruction of Property Over $250
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.
According to a report in the Brockton Enterprise, Dery Moeda of Brockton, Massachusetts has been indicted by a Plymouth County grand jury for Home Invasion and related Massachusetts Violent Crimes. It is alleged that Moeda broke into a home on October 11, 2012 around 7:30 in the morning. While in the home he placed a gun against a thirteen year old girl's head, telling her to remain silent while the apartment in which she lived was searched for nearly one hour. Apparently Moeda and his cohorts were looking for money they believed to be in the home. The girl identified Moeda through a photo array. In addition to Home Invasion, Moeda has been charged with Kidnapping and Larceny Over $250. The case is being prosecuted in the Brockton Superior Court.
Brockton Criminal Defense Lawyer, Home Invasion, Larceny
Whenever a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer defends a case like this one the photographic identification process gets scrutinized. I always want to know what the victim saw and how strong her identification of the suspect was prior to her being presented with the photographic array. The identification itself and the photographic array get introduced into evidence unless the defendant's lawyer is able to show that this aspect of the identification process was unnecessarily suggestive and that the identification itself was tainted because of it. The burden is on the defendant to show by a preponderance of the evidence that given the totality of the circumstances the identification process was so "suggestive and conducive to irreparable misidentification as to deny the defendant due process of law". While this task is difficult and arguably unconstitutional given its burden shifting application, recently the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court established an advisory protocol to help ensure against abuse. This would require law enforcement to make it clear to the witness that the person who committed the crime may or may not be in the array. The witness should also be advised that it is just as important to clear someone as it is to identify someone. Additionally, the witness should be told that the individuals depicted in the photographs might appear different than they did at the time of the crime and that regardless of whether or not an identification is made the investigation will continue. The procedure shall also ask the person making the identification to state the degree of certainty he has in selecting the photo.
When this procedure is not used in accordance with the Supreme Judicial Court's recommendation I usually ask the trial judge to incorporate in the jury instructions language that reflects law enforcement's failure. I view a significant percentage of out of court photographic identifications as unreliable and suggestive. This is certainly something worth litigating in Massachusetts Criminal Cases.
Two Massachusetts Teenagers Charged With Car Theft, Another Facing Charges After Stolen Car is Crashed in Framingham
Framingham, Massachusetts police responded to a call on Route 9 early yesterday morning after a security guard at a local apartment complex heard a car crash. When officers arrived they found seventeen year old Jefferson Deandre behind the wheel of a stolen Camry. Another unnamed passenger was observed in the back seat suffering from what have been described as serious injuries. The incident occurred sometime around 2:30 in the morning. Another passenger, Joel Figueroa fled into the woods where he was apprehended by the police. Figueroa also sustained injuries. During interrogation by the police Deandre admitted to stealing the car. He provided the location from where he had taken the vehicle as well. He was subsequently charged in the Framingham District Court with Receiving Stolen Property Over $250, and Larceny of a Motor Vehicle. Figueroa was charged with variations of the same crimes.
Massachusetts Larceny Defense Lawyer
Larceny of a Motor Vehicle in Massachusetts is a felony pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 28(a). The law states that anyone who knowing steals a motor vehicle can be punished by up to fifteen years in state prison or up to two and one half years in the house of correction. Here is an interesting aspect to this law. The charges cannot be continued without a finding. For people convicted for a second or subsequent such offense there is a mandatory minimum one year jail sentence. To prove someone guilty of this crime in Massachusetts the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt three elements: 1) that the accused took a motor vehicle; 2) that the vehicle was owned by someone else; and 3) that it was the defendant's intention to do so with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle.
Usually Larceny of a Motor Vehicle is charged with the Crime of Use Without Authority. That crime is identified under the same statute. That crime is also known as "joyriding". The punishment for a conviction for joyriding is the same as Larceny of a Motor Vehicle in Massachusetts. The reason that both crimes are charged together stems from the fact that prosecutors may not be certain of the defendant's intent so they want to leave options open. For instance, if the accused is charged with Larceny of a Motor Vehicle only his defense might be that he only intended to drive around in the car and return it later. If the jury believed him he would be acquitted of the Larceny of a Motor Vehicle charge even though he admitted to having committed another crime. Thus, the two are typically charged simultaneously.
There are defenses to these the crimes discussed in this post making it important for anyone accused to hire an Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer.
Last week Massachusetts State Police and Marlborough Police surveilled 21 Preston Street, the home of Joshua Chevez a twenty year old Marlborough resident. Once Chevez arrived home he was handcuffed. The police then executed a Search Warrant at the residence. During the search authorities located Drug Paraphernalia (digital scales and baggies), thousands of dollars cash and some packaged marijuana. Residue on the scales was confirmed to be cocaine. Officers also seized cell phones, cars and a laptop. While detained Chevez confessed to Selling Marijuana and Distributing Cocaine. He stated that he sold around two ounces of cocaine per week to Marlborough residents. Chevez admitted that he buys his product from a Drug Dealer in Lynn, Massachusetts and a Drug Dealer in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Chevez also confessed to Distribution of Marijuana. He was charged with a School Zone Violation, Possession With Intent to Distribute Cocaine, Drug Conspiracy and Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana. Chevez defaulted on his arraignment and a warrant has issued for his arrest. Chevez has other pending Massachusetts Drug Charges including one in Lawrence for Possession With Intent to Distribute Class B along with some Massachusetts Theft Crimes; Breaking and Entering and Receiving Stolen Property. His cases are pending in the Marlborough District Court and may eventually be prosecuted in the Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn.
Marlborough, Massachusetts Cocaine Charge Defense Lawyer
As I have mentioned in many prior posts, Chevez's first mistake was to talk. Had he not spoken with the police there would have been many more defenses to the Massachusetts Drug Charges he is facing. But he did not. Rather, he confessed to having committed some serious Massachusetts felonies. It is pretty clear that he was release from custody on a low bail due to his willingness to cooperate with the police. While this might appear to be an attractive offer to someone who has just been arrested, it is ill advised to cooperate with the police without proper representation from an Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer. Neither Chevez nor anyone in his position is capable of working an effective, beneficial cooperation agreement without the assistance of a lawyer. Now, being in default has exacerbated Chevez's problems and he is in need of proper representation. Silence is the best defense to police questioning if you do not have a lawyer advising you otherwise. The large majority of cases that I handle would never have amounted to Massachusetts Criminal Cases had the defendant not spoken with the police. The rule is simple: avail yourself of your constitutional right to remain silent and hire a lawyer immediately.
Couple From Plymouth, Taunton Charged With Theft Crimes After Breaking Into Home and Getting Caught by Owner
Last week a woman who lives on Newcomb Place in Taunton, Massachusetts returned home after being away overnight. When she entered her apartment she observed Katherine Lee Ferguson, a Plymouth, Massachusetts resident, naked and cooking breakfast. Ferguson's friend Kyle Timmons of Taunton was also present. It is alleged that the two broke into the home through the back doors. The police arrived to find a relative of the victim chasing Timmons out of the building. Timmons continued his flight and was ultimately apprehended down the street. Ferguson was found in the home, wearing a dress and ring belonging to the victim. Both defendants have been charged with Malicious Destruction to Property Over $250 and Breaking and Entering. Timmons also faces a Restraining Order Violation while Ferguson is being charged with Receiving Stolen Property.
Massachusetts Theft Crimes Defense Law Firm
The most serious statute with which Ferguson and Timmons are being charged is Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 17. That law states that anyone who commits the crime of Breaking and Entering a building in the daytime with the intent to commit a felony where the owner is present can be sentenced upon conviction of up to ten years in state prison. The crime is a felony. This type of crime is commonly known as a burglary. Burglaries are considered particularly egregious crimes and judges often impose stiff sentence after someone is convicted of this offense. The word "building" as used in this statute can be equated with a home as is the case here. There must be an intention on the part of the accused to commit either a felony or a misdemeanor along with breaking and entering to satisfy the elements of this crime. Where that cannot be proved prosecutors often charge the crime of criminal trespass. Here, Ferguson's wearing of the victim's dress and ring are sufficient to suggest the intent to commit either a misdemeanor or a felony. The facts are not as evident relative to Timmons.
Defending these crimes can be difficult particularly before a jury. Jurors are typically unsympathetic towards people accused of breaking and entering someone else's property, especially someone's home. In Timmons case the apparent question is "what crime did he intend to commit?". While this might appear defensible from the facts set out in this article I can see where a jury might believe that he was acting as a joint venturer with Ferguson and that he was complicit in helping her steal the ring and dress. Getting caught in the act like this makes trying this quite difficult. I imagine that Timmons and Ferguson will be trying to resolve this case through a plea deal.
Jessica Senter, a twenty four year old nanny working for a Groveland, Massachusetts family has been charged with Larceny Over $250 in the Haverhill District Court. Also charged was her boyfriend, Jukub Councilman. In November of 2010 Senter started work for for the victims in Groveland. She started in a part-time capacity and was awarded a full time job just a couple of months ago. As part of her compensation Senter received a new car and a cellphone. Then, just about a week ago the family noticed that some jewelry was missing. In fact, it was a lot of jewelry, estimated at thirty thousand dollars. It was quickly determined that Senter and Councilman were selling the items at a pawn shop in New Hampshire. More items were found in their possession at the time of their arrest. For this, both have been charged with Larceny Over $250 which is a felony in Massachusetts. Senter however has other problems. Apparently she was convicted of felony larceny last month and sentenced to probation. The victim was also someone for whom Senter worked as a nanny. She was given a suspended sentence. Her conditions of probation included an order to remain free of alcohol and drugs. Senter is a suspect in a similar case in Newburyport.
Massachusetts Theft Crime Attorney
So just how much trouble is Senter in right now? That is an interesting question. A lot determines when the jewelry and other goods were stolen from the victim. If it was before she pleaded guilty on the unrelated case a couple of months ago she might have a chance at a reasonable resolution of this case. If the district attorney can prove that she committed these crimes after the probation was imposed then she is in much more trouble. At the very least she is facing the imposition of a one year house of correction on a Probation Violation. As a matter of law, if probation is revoked the judge must impose the original sentence unless the time for which a revise and revoke can be entertained has not expired. Depending on the exact nature of the suspended sentence and the date on which it was ordered Senter may be able to avoid the one year jail sentence.
Here is another interesting aspect to this case. How does the prosecutor prove that the jewelry was stolen after probation was imposed on the case in March? Well, there are two ways. First, the victims can testify as to when they last saw the item and when they then realized it was missing. This can be problematic in that there might be conjecture that would not satisfy the judge that the event occurred after Senter was placed on probation. The second and more effective way to show the time of the theft is to get the pawn shop dealer to provide testimony and records identifying the time and manner in which he came into possession of the jewelry.
Three Men Charged With Larceny by Scheme for Charging Haverhill Massachusetts Man $90,000 for Minor Home Repairs
Edmond Wormwood and Billy Adams, both from Maine have been arrested. Both are being charged with Larceny by Scheme for allegedly bilking a ninety two year old Haverhill, Massachusetts man out of ninety thousand dollars. A third suspect, Michael Mills is also being sought in this crime. According to a report on Boston.com the defendants appeared at the victim's home in the winter and offered to do some small jobs. They began with some tree work. They also painted and cleaned the victim's cellar. The work was considered subpar. The victim's bank froze the account after noticing unusual spending patterns. The police were notified. A couple of weeks ago the men were back in this area, getting another check from the victim and trying to cash it. Authorities allege that both Adams and Mills have been involved in other schemes similar to this one. Right now the case is pending in the Haverhill District Court. I would imagine that the Essex County District Attorney's office will prosecute this case in the Superior Court located in Salem, Massachusetts.
Larceny by a Single Scheme is a felony in Massachusetts. The crime is set out in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 30. The law states that anyone who steals over two hundred fifty dollars from a person over the age of sixty-five can be sentenced by up to ten years in prison. If the case is kept in the district court then there is a maximum jail sentence of two and one half years. The "single scheme" aspect of the crime is established through case law. In 1965 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that "where it appears that successive takings are actuated by a single, continuing criminal impulse or intent or are pursuant to the execution of a general larcenous scheme, such successive takings constitute a single larceny regardless of the extent of the time which may have elapsed between each taking."
The obvious question to answer in this case is whether or not the services provided by the defendants could have reasonably supported the ninety thousand dollars that victim paid. There is no doubt that tree work, painting and cleaning the basement do not warrant that high a bill. If the defendants performed remodeling work that might change things somewhat. That defense would require them to show payment for supplies and perhaps a contract verifying the agreement between them and the victim. The comment that the workmanship was subpar is subjective and it would be difficult to have an opinion as such entered into evidence. The defendant's biggest problem is that the victim is ninety two years old. No judge or jury will have sympathy for these guys if it looks like they took advantage of an elderly person. The Essex County District Attorney's office has a page on its website identifying its position on elder abuse. Their position suggests strongly that if these men are convicted for committing this crime they will be going to state prison for a significant time period. This makes their selection of a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer particularly important.
Back in early February Hingham, Massachusetts Police responded to a call for a dispute between a landlord and her tenant. Officers were advised that the woman had several aliases and was using multiple identities. An ensuing investigation showed that the woman, Wanpen Florentine had multiple birth dates, a couple of Massachusetts drivers' licenses and perhaps more than seven names. Florentine was registered to vote under two difference names. Last week Florentine was arrested and charged with various Fraud and Identity Theft crimes, five of which are felonies. This past Monday a Search Warrant was obtained and Florentin's home in Hingham was searched. The defendant is sixty two years old. She is being held on one hundred twenty five thousand dollars bail.
The Massachusetts Identity Theft statute is G.L. c. 266 §37E which states that anyone who poses as someone else without that person's permission and uses that identifying information to obtain goods, money or other items of value, or uses that identifying information to harass someone else is guilty of a misdemeanor. The punishment for a conviction for this offense is no more than two and one half years in the house and the possibility of a fine of up to five thousand dollars. Interestingly enough, it does not appear that the defendant in this case has been charged with this offense. Instead, she has been charged with Fraud related Motor Vehicle Crimes that are felonies, meaning that there is a possibility that the defendant will be indicted and could face a state prison sentence. Obviously the district attorney believes that her actions were serious enough to warrant prosecuting pursuant to other statutes.
Identity Theft is becoming rampant in this country. It is estimated that over nine million people are the victims of some sort of identity theft crime every year. The danger to fraud victims is real and may not be realized for years. Victims of this type of criminal activity may be denied job opportunities, loans and are sometimes arrested for allegations that they committed crimes that they in fact never committed. We have represented many people who have been charged with Crimes in Massachusetts who never actually committed these crimes. The people who stole their identity were the actual perpetrators of the crime. You can imagine the surprise and shock to the accused in these cases when they are arrested for drug offense, theft crimes or crimes of violence that they never even heard about.
Lawrence Massachusetts Woman Apprehended, Charged In Identity Fraud Scheme in Massachusetts Federal Court
Carmen Beltre of Lawrence, Massachusetts disappeared in mid January following the release of information that she was one of about fifty people being charged in a Federal Identity Fraud Scheme. It is alleged that Beltre and others accessed and distributed false documents such as birth certificates and Social Security cards. Last summer Beltre was arrested on several Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crimes including Operating with a Suspended License, Operating Uninsured and Attaching Plates. During the booking process Beltre was found in possession of various Social Security numbers, immigration papers and a "suspicious" list of names. Beltre claimed that she worked for the government and that the information found in her possession was job related. Authorities turned this information over to the Essex County District Attorney for investigation and charges were filed. Beltre was held at the Wilmington, Massachusetts Police Department awaiting arraignment in the Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
While the article is silent as to what crime Beltre is charged with I would imagine that she is accused of violating 18 U.S.C. 1028(a)(7) which states that it is a crime for anyone to knowingly transfer, possess or use someone else's identification with the intent to commit an act that constitutes a violation of Federal or State law. The punishment for a conviction varies depending on the circumstances in which the fraud was committed. For instance, if the identity fraud implicated drug trafficking activities then the statute authorizes a twenty year prison sentence. If it involves terrorism then a thirty year sentence can be imposed. In Beltre's case the accusation is unclear however if drugs are not involved I would imagine that the maximum sentence is fifteen years. The statute in this situation might permit a sentence of probation making it necessary that Beltre's Massachusetts Federal Criminal Lawyer be experienced in these matters. Beltre's sentence in large part will depend on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Factors that will come into play are her age, criminal record, involvement in the Identity Fraud Scheme, level of obstruction with the investigation, ultimate cooperation and extent of her acceptance of responsibility. Or, perhaps this is the type of case that will be tried before a jury.
One more thing came to mind when I first read this article. As is the case here, a tremendous number of Massachusetts Criminal Cases start with Motor Vehicle Stops. Beltre's arrest for the Motor Vehicle Offenses permitted the officers to search her incident to her arrest. Under Massachusetts and Federal law they were also permitted to conduct a limited search of her car. Suppressing these searches would be extremely unlikely given the circumstances addressed in this article. I am always amazed at just how often people involved in major crimes commit minor motor vehicle infractions that precipitate Searches and Seizures. This stupidity at times makes the job of law enforcement officials ridiculously easy.
Massachusetts Appeals Court Reverses Conviction for Larceny, Malicious Destruction of Property, Breaking and Entering for Insufficient Evidence
There was a breaking and entering in Falmouth, Massachusetts. No one was home. Television sets and a DVD player were stolen. The police arrived to investigate and found an electronic bank card bearing Renaud's name on it. Renaud was not known by the victims. Renaud lived in Falmouth, a fact known to the police. The police called him the next day and told him that someone found his bankcard on the side of the road. He was further told that he could pick it up at the police station. Renaud responded that he did know that it was missing. He elected not to go to the police station. The case went to trial. Renaud was convicted based almost exclusively on the fact that his bankcard was found in the victim's home. Reversing the conviction the Massachusetts Appeals Court stated that "ownership of [the bankcard] cannot allow a factfinder to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the owner of the card was in possession of it during the commission of a crime". As to the bankcard itself, the court made the observation that "[i]dentification cards are common currency of everyday life. They are also portable objects that can be lost, stolen, or transplanted by others." In the circumstances of this case the trial judge should have allowed the defendant's Motion for a Required Finding of Not Guilty and entered a verdict of Not Guilty.
The standard in Massachusetts for sustaining a prosecution is whether the evidence introduced up to the time the Commonwealth rests its case, "viewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, was sufficient for a reasonable jury to infer the existence of each essential element of the crime charged, beyond a reasonable doubt". Thus, when reviewing claims for sufficiency of the evidence Massachusetts Appellate Courts pay no attention to any evidence that follows the Commonwealth's case. For instance, if the defendant puts on evidence that evidence has no bearing on the challenge for insufficient evidence provided that the defendant has moved the Court for a Required Finding of Not Guilty after the district attorney rests his case.
In this case Renaud's trial lawyer did a great job preserving this issue for appeal. The trial judge should have entered the required finding of not guilty after hearing the motion. The appellate attorney then did a fantastic job articulating the basis for the appeal to the Appeals Court. This case demonstrates the importance of hiring an Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer to represent you at both the trial and appellate levels. The defendant here should be pleased with his decision to hire two excellent lawyers.
Lawrence Massachusetts Man, 31, Avoids Jail as Part of Plea Deal for Charges of Larceny, Fraud and Conspiracy
A thirty one year old Lawrence, Massachusetts man pleaded guilty for the second time in regard to charges of Conspiracy, Larceny and Fraud. The man initially pleaded guilty to twenty six counts of Auto Fraud. He subsequently moved to withdraw his guilty plea alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, a violation of his Sixth Amendment right. That motion was allowed in September of 2010. The defendant subsequently offered his cooperation to the prosecution in its efforts to prosecute auto fraud scandals in Lawrence involving staged car crashes. The defendant would refer the cases to local personal injury lawyers and chiropractors and collect a finder's fee. The victims and the accidents were non-existent. They were all part of a lucrative insurance fraud scheme. In return for his cooperation the defendant was permitted to plead guilty to eleven counts of insurance fraud related indictments. An additional twenty five charges will be dismissed if the defendant successfully completes a period of probation scheduled to last five years.
Insurance Fraud, Lawrence Criminal Lawyer, Essex County Criminal Lawyer Salem Superior Court Defense Attorney
This article shows just how important it is to have an Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer at every stage of the proceedings. In this case the defendant initially pleaded guilty without being properly advised of the consequences his guilty plea would have on his status in this country. In March of 2010 the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Padilla v. Kentucky. There, it held that criminal defense attorneys must advise their clients who are not citizens of this country that their guilty pleas might have certain immigration consequences. Padilla holds that a lawyer's failure to properly advise his client of these consequences constitutes a deprivation of the right to effective assistance of counsel. Padilla holds that the Sixth Amendment requires affirmative, competent advice regarding immigration consequences. A lawyer's silence constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel even if the immigration warning was read to the defendant by the judge during his plea colloquy. Commentary to the Padilla decision suggest that defense attorneys should be familiar with the basic immigration consequences that flow from different types of guilty pleas, and should keep this in mind in investigating law and fact and advising the client.
The case involving the man in Lawrence shows that getting proper representation applies not just to the result itself but to all consequences stemming from the attorney's representation of the client. This is a perfect example of why it is critically necessary that when you investigate who to hire as your Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer you find out how long the person has been practicing, how many cases of a similar nature he or she has defended and the lawyer's overall experience. Make sure that you are comfortable with you decision. Do not hesitate to ask questions to make sure that the lawyer you are hiring focuses his or her practice on defending the accused.