Jose Davilla of Lawrence, Massachusetts was arrested yesterday at his home. He has been charged with Intimidation of a Witness. They are still looking for Rafael Rodriguez, also being charged with the same felony offense. It is alleged that the accused posted the photos of two witnesses to a murder case through the social media Instagram and attaching to their pictures the word “snitch”. The pictures were posted on Rodriguez and Davilla’s accounts. The defendants were friends of Jose Ruiz, the defendant in a murder case that concluded in the Essex County Superior Court yesterday. Right now this case is being handled in the Lawrence District Court.
Lawrence, Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer, Violent Crimes, Felonies
The crime of Intimidation of a Witness is Massachusetts is set out in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 268 Section 13B. As you might expect, the law makes it a crime to in any way threaten a witness or someone who has information about a criminal case in Massachusetts. This crime is a felony. Anyone convicted of this offense can be punished by up to tow and one half years in the house of correction or up to ten years in state prison. A fine of up to five thousand dollars might also be imposed. These cases can be prosecuted in either the county where the defendant committed the act or in the county where the criminal proceeding is taking place.
These cases are getting prosecuted much more frequently these days than they had been in the past. This is largely due to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, texting and now Instagram. It is all too easy to trace the origin of threatening messages. In addition to being illegal, using the social media for such conduct is downright stupid. It is basically like sending a signed letter in your own handwriting. This is however often the best defense to cases like this one. An experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer might ask the jury to consider whether it was the defendant who posted the message or someone else. People often have access to other people’s media devices. Desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and ipads all have the capability of transmitting this material. People share these devices regularly and absent some additional evidence the mere publishing of intimidating words or photos does not mean that the owner of the sending device is guilty. If the defendant in this case did not admit to this act then perhaps he has a viable defense to these charges. Regardless, the one lesson anyone should take from stories like this is “Don’t put anything in writing”. That action, like talking to the police, can only worsen the problems that you might be facing.
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, PC defends the accused. We have over twenty-five years of criminal trial and appellate experience in Massachusetts. If you are in trouble you need a lawyer. Call us at 617-263-6800 or send us an email.