I cannot even begin to put a number to the amount of calls I get from people bullied by store security personnel into confessing to crimes they did not commit. The scenario is always the same. Either a patron or an employee of a store (usually a larger store with many branches) is suspected of stealing. In the case of the patron it is typically goods. The employee matters more often involve money. The suspect is confronted by a loss prevention officer and brought into a room in or near the store. They are lied to, bullied and coerced into confessing and/or signing a statement admitting to the act and promising repayment. In fact, many of the people accused are one hundred percent innocent yet they now face an uphill battle defending a larceny or shoplifting case. This post explains how this can happen and why judges should dismiss larceny and shoplifting cases in these situations.
Over the years I have repeated my strong belief that you need a lawyer at any criminal proceeding in Massachusetts courts. Recently this sentiment became apparent to one of my clients who questioned the need for legal representation at a clerk magistrate hearing. He really thought that he could handle a particular situation on his own and soon realized that proceeding that way would be a major mistake. This post discusses aspects of that case with an emphasis on the importance of being properly represented in a criminal court proceeding. Continue reading →
For most people, being charged with a crime is an unnerving experience. The first thing someone might do is get on the Internet and research the statute under which he has been charged. This is a really bad idea. You will look at the statute and see a potential jail or state prison sentence. Panic will start to set in. So, you might next use the Internet to find a criminal defense attorney. The website might provide you with similar information. This might not make you feel any better. Keep this analogy in mind. When you don’t feel good you might go to the symptom checker on the Internet. And guess what? You will quickly learn that you have a terminal illness. Yet once you meet with a doctor you find out that you only have a pulled muscle. So while the Internet and criminal lawyer websites might be a good starting place for representation you have to do more to find the right person to represent you. Here are my thoughts on how to find the right criminal defense attorney for your case. Continue reading →
One of the most common criminal charges college students face, particularly in Massachusetts is the crime of shoplifting. The courts in Boston see a significant number of these cases. The last thing a college student can afford is having a criminal record so effective, experienced legal representation is a necessity. Our office has been defending college students for nearly three decades. We have managed to get countless shoplifting cases dismissed and we have made sure that our clients have left the courthouse without having a criminal record. Successfully defending college students charged with shoplifting is something in which we take great pride. Continue reading →
Larceny cases fall into two general categories in Massachusetts. Larceny under two hundred fifty dollars is a misdemeanor. Larceny over two hundred fifty dollars is a felony. The former is punishable by up to one year in the county house of corrections and the latter by up to five years in state prison. The felony version of larceny is often charged in district courts in Massachusetts meaning that the prosecution is not seeking a state prison sentence. When larceny cases involve disputes over money the person accused is often surprised at how the matter can be charged criminally. In this situation people call will me and ask “how can I get a larceny case dismissed?”. This article examines one of these cases. Continue reading →
Forty-nine out of the fifty United States have laws making writing a bad check a crime. The crime is known as larceny by check. The Massachusetts law prohibiting this conduct is G.L. c. 266 Section 37. That statute makes it a crime to write or pass a check knowing that there do not exist sufficient funds to cover the check. Simply passing the instrument satisfies the prosecution’s burden of going forward with these charges unless the accused covers the bad check within two days of being notified that the check has bounced. Fraudulent checks exceeding two hundred fifty dollars can result in a felony complaint issuing. Several times each month I get a call about one of these cases. The client usually asks if he or she can be prosecuted for bouncing a check. The answer is usually “yes, you can be prosecuted or that crime” however the likelihood of being convicted depends on factors discussed below. Continue reading →
An article in today’s Salem News discusses a scheme used by local retail store employees to obtain goods without having to pay for them. Apparently five employees used portable scanning devices issued by the store to ring up sales for fellow employees. Some of the items would be voided out so it would look like the employee was paying for one item when in fact the items voided out would be taken as well. Improper refund credits were applied to gift cards and the defendant’s personal credit cards as well. The gift cards were then used at the store to make purchases. It appears that the defendants were charged with larceny over $250, a felony in Massachusetts. Continue reading →
Over the years I have defended several cases involving the possession of or passing of counterfeit bills or money. Some of these cases were prosecuted in the district court and others in superior court. Interestingly enough, some of the more serious cases were prosecuted in the district court and vice versa. Initially, very few of my clients knew the severity of these charges. Most of them thought it was no big deal until I told them a little bit about the counterfeit money statutes in Massachusetts. Then they panicked. So, just how serious is possession of counterfeit money in Massachusetts? This post examines that question.
You always hear about people going to New York City to buy pocketbooks, glasses, handbags, shoes and more from street vendors. They talk tongue and cheek about the great deals they are getting. These people know they are not getting the real thing. They go for the experience of “shopping” in New York and having some fun for a couple of days. But did you know you can do the same thing in Lawrence, Massachusetts? Well, just a couple of weeks ago forty two people were arrested in Lawrence and charged with selling counterfeit goods. All of them were arraigned and now await a pretrial hearing in June and July.
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.