Four Groveland teenagers have been arraigned in Haverhill District Court on charges of malicious destruction of property and disorderly conduct after allegedly confessing to smashing 19 mailboxes and two car windows with a baseball bat. The teens — Benjamin Tocci, 19; Brandon Yemmi, 17; Tyler Kelly, 17; and Cody Hillner, 17 – were allegedly playing a game of “mailbox baseball” after a 1:30 a.m. drive to buy cigarettes at a convenience store. Police allege that the property destruction was not confined to any particular area or neighborhood and believe that there were more unreported instances of vandalism. The prosecution will seek restitution, local news reported.
Police allegedly connected the teens to the vandalized mailboxes after writing down the license plates of “several” cars that they passed on road. This case is an example of why it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Had the teens consulted with a lawyer and not admitted to the acts, then there may have been no probable cause to charge them with these crimes. There is no indication that anyone saw the teens smashing the mailboxes or provided any description of suspects. There is no indication that anyone provided a description of the vehicle. The fact that the teens’ car was among “several” cars that passed down the particular road would likely not have been sufficient to give rise to probable cause. If the suspects not spoken with the police, then there may not have been enough probable cause to charge them or, alternatively, they would have had strong grounds for a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of probable cause.
The teens are charged with malicious destruction of property over $250 for the smashed car windows. Malicious destruction of property over $250 is a felony. A viable defense would be to establish whether there was really more than $250 worth of damage to the windows. The damage alleged is apparently limited to the windows, as opposed to the rest of the vehicles, because it does not appear that the suspects were charged with malicious destruction of a motor vehicle, a distinct and more serious crime which cannot be continued without a finding.
Anytime someone is facing the possibility of facing criminal charges an experienced Boston area attorney should be consulted. There are often collateral consequences that result from being charged with any type of crime including effects on job opportunities, education and sometimes even scholarship money. Minimizing the impact of these types of charges is very important. Criminal proceedings are stressful for everyone, but perhaps even more so for younger defendants who have not been in trouble before. An experienced Massachusetts Boston criminal lawyer can guide individuals through the process and achieve a result that has the least effect on educational or professional prospects at this critical time in their lives.