Earlier today the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided the case of Commonwealth v. Levy, SJC 10778. A brief history of the case is as follows: The defendant filed and argued a Motion to Suppress a search in the Brockton District Court. The motion was allowed. The district attorney appealed the decision. The appeal was allowed the ruling of the lower court was reversed. The Supreme Judicial Court permitted further appellate review. It agreed with the lower court and overturned the Massachusetts Appeals Court’s decision.
The district court judge found that in January of 2007 a surveillance was set up by Brockton Police monitoring the use of payphones near a market. It was believed that those phones were being used to conduct drug transactions. One particular evening around 10:00 p.m. two women and a male pulled up to the payphones in a car. The man got out and made a brief call. The three then left in the car and drove a short distance away. The man got out of the car and paced up and down the street. Minutes later another vehicle containing three occupants approached. The man got into the car for a short, thirty second drive. He then got out of the car and got back into his own vehicle. Believing that a drug transaction had occurred the police stopped the second vehicle. The defendant was seated in the front passenger seat. He was asked to get out of the car. He was searched and in his boot officers found twenty eight packages of crack cocaine.
The Supreme Judicial Court held that the police did not have probable cause to arrest Levy and to search his boot. In support of that decision the Court found that no police officer witnessed any sort of exchange indicative of a drug transaction. None of the parties were known drug dealers or users. Reasonable suspicion did exist justifying a stop and questioning. The search however required probable cause which was not present in this case.
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman is committed to defending the accused. Filing and arguing motions to suppress and dismiss is routinely done in our office. Call us now if you are in trouble. You can reach us at 617-263-6800 or you can contact us online.