Aggressive Defense of All Criminal Matters
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No FID Card and the Danger of Reporting a Stolen Firearm

This is not an uncommon story. Someone from out of state comes to Massachusetts. They bring with them a firearm lawfully purchased and possessed in another state. They don’t know the gun laws in Massachusetts. Their home gets broken into and the gun gets stolen. They do what any law abiding citizen would do. They report the firearm stolen at the nearest police station. And guess what happens next? They are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and possibly improper storage of a firearm. Someone shrewder might call a lawyer first and ask what to do “if I have no FID card and my gun gets stolen”? Continue reading →

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You Need a Lawyer at a Clerk Magistrate Hearing

About two months ago I was contacted by a woman who received notice for clerk magistrate hearing charging her with assault and battery on a pregnant person. After discussing the case it became clear that the accused was actually the victim and vice versa. The defendant retained me and the first thing we did was apply for a cross-complaint. A detective was assigned to the case and an application for a cross-complaint issued, charging the “victim” with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. A hearing on both matters was scheduled for the same day. The outcome of this case provides a clear example of why you need a lawyer at a clerk magistrate hearing. Continue reading →

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Allegations of Sexual Assault

Everyone is aware of just how quickly news travels these days. The smallest events in a person’s life can be shared immediately over over the Internet through some form of social media. I am not aware of anyone who does not own a smartphone, capable of photographing and videotaping at the push of a button. Whatever you do you must be aware that someone, perhaps anyone, can capture your activity and post it through a social media application. In the past I have written about the dangers of posting one’s activities to Facebook or through texts, chats or other applications. Many criminal defense lawyers have written about this and warned of the consequences. But for some reason, too many people, particularly young people choose to ignore the warnings. Whether true or not, allegations of sexual assault travel quickly over the Internet. Continue reading →

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Probation Violation

In Massachusetts, probation violation hearings differ significantly from trials and some other proceedings in criminal cases. The Supreme Judicial Court made clear in Commonwealth v. Durling, 407 Mass. 108 (1990) that probation violation proceedings do not afford to the defendant the same protections as one gets at trial. One thing that was unclear until recently was whether or not a probationer has the right to confrontation at a probation violation hearing. Following the decision in a recent SJC case, Commonwealth v. Hartfield, the answer is seeming yes. The facts of that case and its holding are explored below. Continue reading →

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Heroin Trafficking Lawrence Massachusetts

Heroin Trafficking

Late last week I got a call from a new client greatly concerned because he had just been arrested and charged with heroin trafficking in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The man was at an apartment in Lawrence apparently looking for some heroin to satisfy his habit. Several other customers were there as well. While buying a small quantity of the drug several law enforcement officials entered the home pursuant to a search warrant. A search revealed in excess of two hundred grams of heroin, an amount consistent with trafficking. Everyone present was arrested and charged with trafficking heroin. Continue reading →

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Domestic Assault and Battery

Over the years I have defended scores of people falsely accused of domestic assault and battery in Massachusetts. Many of these claims were made to gain an advantage in a collateral legal proceeding such as a divorce or a child custody dispute. Other times the claims originated when a scorned partner wanted to exact revenge on his or her significant other. Recently I have seen another trend. People living in this country illegally are abusing a policy of refusing to deport victims of domestic assault and battery. From a criminal defense perspective these cases are extremely difficult to defend. This post examines one such scenario and potential defenses to alleged violations of G.L. c. 265 Section 13M. Continue reading →

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Destruction of Evidence in Criminal Cases

For nearly three decades I have been defending people accused of committing crimes. I have spent thousands of hours in courtrooms arguing on behalf of my clients and listening to hundreds of criminal defense attorneys fighting for their clients. One of the more common motions filed and argued in criminal cases is a motion for the preservation of evidence. Judges typically allow these motions and direct the district attorney to reach out to the person or entity in possession of the evidence to make sure they don’t dispose of the item. Unfortunately, all too often the evidence gets destroyed. Destruction of evidence in criminal cases is usually deemed “inadvertent”. There is rarely a consequence to the prosecution. Perhaps now that is changing. Continue reading →

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Inventory Search

Last month the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a trial judge’s decision to suppress evidence unlawfully obtained in the course of an inventory search. In Commonwealth v. Oliveira, decided March 28, 2016 the Court found it unreasonable for the police to conduct an inventory search after the operator was arrested for shoplifting and the operator gave the police a practical alternative to impounding the car. In addition to shoplifting, the defendants in this case were charged with carrying a firearm in violation of G.L. c. 269 Section 10(a) and possession of ammunition, a violation of G.L. c. 269 Section 10(h). Both the weapon and the ammunition were suppressed. This will likely result in a dismissal of those charges. Continue reading →

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Withdrawing Guilty Pleas and Vacating Convictions

Nearly thirty years ago, when I first started practicing law it was rare to have a client ask me to help him withdraw a guilty plea. Case law in that area had not been well developed. Access to criminal convictions was limited. Deportation, denial of naturalization or exclusion from admission to this country was not what it is now. That has all changed dramatically in the past decade. Criminal history databases are much more sophisticated. Employers and the government can more easily find out that someone has a record. So now, many times each month I get inquiries from people in need of withdrawing guilty pleas and vacating convictions. Continue reading →

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The 5th Amendment: Why A... "Don't Talk To Police"

You Do Not Have To Talk To A Police Officer

Here is a very common scenario. Someone calls me up for “advice”. They tell me that the police want to talk to them about an incident. I ask them to tell me what happened. Don’t sugar coat it. Just tell me what happened. They often give a very abridged version of the event. The advice is almost always going to be the same. Don’t talk to the cops. Instead, hire a lawyer to protect you. Sometimes they respond by saying “yeah, but I didn’t do anything”. Maybe that’s true however the fact that you are calling a lawyer to see if you should talk to the police tells me something in and of itself. Keep this advice in mind. You do not have to talk to a police officer. Continue reading →