This past Saturday Vincent Bencivenga of Lawrence, Massachusetts, Josette Osorio of Haverhill and Mark Hatch of Methuen made a fake video of a stabbing during the Feast of the Three Saints festival in Lawrence. The trio used video cameras and a cell phone camera to record the event. Not realizing that the act was a spoof, people attending the festival called the police after observing Osorio wearing a black trench coat and carrying a machete that appeared bloody. When the police arrived Osorio and Bencivenga identified Hatch as the ringleader claiming that the fake stabbing video was his idea and that the intention of the three was to put it on YouTube. Hatch was apprehended a short time later after initially evading the police. Hatch was charged with Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest, Making a False Police Report and Assault and Battery on a Police Officer. Osorio and Bencivenga were charged with Making False Reports to the Police and Disturbing the Peace. The cases are pending in the Lawrence District Court.
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It is not often that I blog on the Crime of Disturbing the Peace in Massachusetts. While every Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer has at one time or another defended such accusations the crime is relatively minor and in my opinion used when the conduct of the accused is more of an annoyance than a crime. The punishment for a conviction of this crime supports this suggestion. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 53 provides for a maximum punishment of a fine of one hundred fifty dollars for a first time conviction of this crime. The proscribed behavior contemplates a person’s “purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof. There is a tremendous amount of subjectivity associated with the Criminal Charge of Disturbing the Peace in Massachusetts. This in and of itself often prompts prosecutors to voluntarily dismiss these charges or to permit a resolution that does not involve a criminal conviction. This is particularly true where the defendants do not have criminal records and their actions or more consistent with a lack of judgment than with a criminal intent. All of this appears to be fitting for the defendants in this case.
The crime of Making a False Report to a Police Officer has a more sever potential punishment, one year in jail. The statute, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 13A contemplates such actions as an obstruction of justice. I have never seen this great a sentence imposed for a conviction of this crime. Usually, this charge is resolved by a dismissal or something less than a conviction if properly defended.
Finally, Resisting Arrest and Assault and Battery on a Police Officer have become relatively transparent criminal offenses in Massachusetts. Judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys all accept that often times police get a little aggressive when apprehending suspects. This is more so when flight or a chase is involved. The police get physical with the accused and then to protect themselves from a Civil Rights Lawsuit they accuse the defendant of Resisting Arresting and Assaulting them. Police officers need to be more careful in making these accusations these days. Everywhere you look there are surveillance and security video devices and a thorough Massachusetts Criminal Attorney will get the footage and mount his defense.
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, PC is committed to defending the accused no matter how serious the crime. Call us at 617-263-6800 or send us an email if you are in trouble. Our lawyers can help you.