This past Monday night Framingham, Massachusetts police were on patrol on Waverly Street when they noticed a Honda with “extremely dark” tinted windows. This observation prompted the officers to pull the car over and contact its occupants, Christian Joel Mercado Vega, Fe Sanchez and Wilfredo Ortiz. All of the defendants currently live in Framingham. Officers report that Ortiz appeared nervous and that Vega did not give his correct name or birth date. Vega was then ordered out of the car. Officers saw cocaine where he had been sitting. This motivated the officers to seize a duffel bag. Inside the duffel bag was over one pound of cocaine; specifically five hundred sixty four grams. During the search of the car a digital scale was located. All defendants have been charged with Trafficking Cocaine Over 200 Grams, a Class B Substance. The case is pending in the Framingham District Court. It will ultimately be prosecuted in the Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn.
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There is a statute in Massachusetts that limits the degree to which window tinting is acceptable. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 9D makes unlawful nontransparent or sunscreen materials affixed to windows in certain parts of cars. There is a thirty five percent visibility threshold applicable to this material. The Massachusetts Appeals Court has held that there is no need to measure the tint with a meter. Rather, the test is whether “is whether the officer reasonably suspected, based on his visual observations, that the tinting of the windows exceeded the permissible limits of Section 9D.” While this might appear to be a problem to constitutional challenges to searches there are ways to get a judge’s attention to this issue. Videotaping a replicated crime scene can be helpful. When vehicles with tinted windows travel in well lit areas the interior of the vehicle becomes blatantly visible. Imparting this fact to a judge at a Suppression Hearing calls into question the officer’s credibility and might result in a suppression of illegally seized evidence. An Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer will investigate the circumstances of the stop to see if this will be an effective strategy at an evidentiary hearing.
Something else comes to mind when reading this article; that being the validity of the Exit Order. In Massachusetts police cannot order a passenger from a car (Vega) absent a reasonable apprehension of danger to the officer or others. There is no indication that such exigency existed in this case. Keep in mind, if Vega is not ordered out of the car then no one sees any cocaine. Ortiz would have been cited for the civil motor vehicle violation and sent on his way.
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman is committed to defending the accused. We have successfully defended Drug Dealers in Framingham, Massachusetts. Call us at 617-263-6800 or send us an email if you have a criminal case. We can help you.