It is the right of the district attorney and the defendant to call witnesses to testify at trial. Most people dread the process. They don’t want to get up before a jury, take an oath and testify against someone. Others don’t want the inconvenience of sitting around a courthouse for hours, waiting to be called to the witness stand. Some people are afraid that if they testify they might get in trouble themselves. It is this last category of people who call my office asking me for help. This post examines your rights and obligations when called to testify as a witness at a criminal trial in Massachusetts. Continue reading →
Browsing the Internet today I saw a story about a twenty two year old man being charged with statutory rape in Massachusetts. The man, Matthew Pos was arrested out of state and is being held pending a rendition hearing. Rendition is the process of one state sending a suspect in a criminal case to the state where the criminal charge is pending. All states have some sort of rendition law. Some people refer to this process as extradition. This post provides a synopsis of how rendition laws work and when they should be challenged or waived. Continue reading →
There are many areas in Massachusetts where concentrations of drug trafficking arrests are made. Some are in the inner cities. Some are in economically challenged suburbs. Others are on major highways that connect Massachusetts to neighboring states. This last category of cases gives me the most concern and often leads me to believe that my client’s constitutional rights have been violated. That is for one simple reason. The percentage of drug trafficking arrests made after stops on these roads involving out of state license plates is proportionally higher than those involving Massachusetts license plates. To me this is nothing less than profiling. Continue reading →
If you are wondering just how prevalent prostitution cases are in Massachusetts just open you local newspaper. At least once a week you can read about a local prostitution sting. If you want more detail just perform some basic Internet searches such as “prostitution arrest” in “your town”. You will quickly learn that the world’s oldest profession is conducted everywhere. No longer is prostitution simply associated with street hookers parading down the red light districts of major cities. Now, sex is advertised and sold in every town. Just go to Craigslist or Backpage and search for dates or massage services. Manicures and nail services are often code for sexual services as well. Recently, law enforcement has been focusing on flushing out the demand for sex rather than the supply. They do this through “stings”, the subject of this post. Continue reading →
Some people argue that the most onerous aspect of the Massachusetts restraining order statute is the requirement that firearms be surrendered. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209A Section 3B states that once a restraining order issues the defendant must immediately surrender all firearms. The law also requires the defendant to surrender all firearm licenses. Those licenses are automatically suspended as well. The defendant is notified of this consequence by the judge orally and in writing. The weapons are to be surrendered to the licensing authority where the defendant lives. Alternatively, the officer who serves the defendant with the 209A Order can take possession of the firearms at the time of service. Continue reading →
There is perhaps nothing more unfair and suggestive in criminal law than photo arrays. This is a procedure where the police place before a witness several photos and ask if the person who committed the alleged crime is depicted in one of the pictures. Included in the array is a photograph of the suspect and several other people known as fillers. There should be at least six photos and the appearance of the people in the photos should be similar in every regard. The photos should be positioned randomly within the array. The photos should shown to the witness one at a time. Once the witness has viewed a photo that picture should be removed so that only one picture is before the witness at any one time. Nothing suggestive should be said or done during the procedure. The witness should not be told that the suspect is included among the photos. Yet, this is not the way it works. This post looks into some of the problems with the reliability of photo arrays. Continue reading →
Experienced police officers believe they know exactly how to write reports that will survive constitutional challenges. They learn this skill at the police academy, through occupational trainings and from losing suppression hearings. Yet regardless of what they put in their reports they still have to be able to stand up to aggressive cross-examination not only at trial but during evidentiary hearings. When the facts they put in their report are transparently suspect an experienced criminal defense lawyer is still going to have a good chance at winning. This post looks at a recent Lawrence, Massachusetts heroin trafficking arrest and my perceptions about the existence of any probable cause to stop and search. Continue reading →
Arrests for serious crimes are likely to trigger requests for bail. This is true not just in Massachusetts but in every state. Bail orders are set in various situations. Bail orders depend on the severity of the crime charged and other things more fully discussed below in this post. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 276 Section 58 sets out the procedure for most bail matters. Initial orders of bail that are set in court are matters that should be handled by an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If not handled properly there is a chance that you can be held in jail. This post looks at the time and manner when bail is usually addressed.
Earlier today I read a blog post written by Orange County criminal lawyer Randy Collins discussing the role of jailhouse informants or snitches in helping prosecutors prove cases. It reminded me of just how difficult defending criminal cases can be when a client is locked up awaiting trial. The use of informants always had and always will have its place in proving crimes. Yet is seems more prevalent these days in Massachusetts, particularly in regard to murder prosecutions. There was a time when the fear of retaliation scared would be informants from helping prosecutors. Newly designed jails and segregated prison populations have contributed to quelling these fears and encouraging informants to cooperate. This post looks at some jailhouse informant issues I have encountered and how to defend against them.
We have all heard the expression innocent until proven guilty. We all know that the proof is on the district attorney to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime charged. We are familiar with those historic words “cloaked with the presumption of innocence”. Yet any time someone is charged with the crime of rape of a child people run and hide from those constitutional protections and principles. Opinions are immediately formed. The defendant is now a pariah. Even judges overlook those bedrock ideologies. The only person someone this position can count on is his criminal defense lawyer.