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Open and Gross Lewdness

Open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior in Massachusetts is a crime under G.L. c. 272 Section 16. To convict someone of this crime the prosecuting attorney must prove the element of shock or alarm. This requirement was recently clarified by the Supreme Judicial Court in the Commonwealth v. Maguire, SJC-12013.  The case held that there is both a subjective and objective component of this element that must be proved before a conviction can stand. This post examines that case and the Commonwealth’s burden in open and gross cases. Continue Reading


Stabbing Someone in Massachusetts

One of the more personal and highly violent criminal offenses in Massachusetts is stabbing another person. Stabbings are usually the result of hot emotions or fits of rage, and they can cause minor, serious, or even life-threatening injuries. Sometimes stabbing can even be fatal. when a criminal defendant is charged with stabbing another person, the charges that they will face usually depend on the seriousness of the stabbing incident. Stabbing someone in Massachusetts is a serious offense. It is a felony.  Continue Reading

In a move that strengthens individuals’ right to privacy, the state’s highest court ruled that state law enforcement must have particularized evidence that a cellphone is tied to a criminal act in order to be able to seize the cellphone. While the court acknowledged that there is a common sense notion that cellphones are often used by criminals to communicate with other criminals about their criminal activities, or that cellphones could be used for other tasks, like taking pictures that could also be used as evidence in a criminal proceeding, the mere fact that there is only a commonsense notion of these uses of a cell phone is not sufficient override an individual privacy rights. This decision makes it harder for police to seize cellphones.


Harder for Police to Seize Cellphones

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Larceny by False Pretenses

Larceny over $250 by false pretenses is a felony in Massachusetts under G.L. c. 266 Section 34. The law simply states that “[w]hoever, with intent to defraud and by a false pretense, induces another to part with property of any kind or with any of the benefits described in sections 33 and 33A shall be guilty of larceny.” Many cases implicating facts consistent with this crime involve contractors. Traditionally, these disputes were resolved through compromise or, in more extreme instances by civil lawsuit. Recently, it has become more popular to treat larceny by false pretenses cases as criminal matters. Defending these cases can be difficult as nearly every prospective juror can recall a situation where he was “screwed” by a builder, remodeler or contractor. This post examines a recent Massachusetts case that reveals exactly what the prosecution must prove to show you intended to commit this crime. Continue Reading


Opioid Drug

In recent years there has been an immense effort to combat the availability of an opioid drug, such as fentanyl, in Massachusetts, which was brought about by an increased rate of opioid-induced death. Fentanyl, a Class B controlled substance under Mass. Gen. Laws Chapter 94C, Section 31, is used to cut other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, and is extremely addictive. The use of fentanyl skyrocketed because it has the effect of enhancing the potency of other drugs that it is mixed with, but this is also what makes fentanyl so incredibly dangerous. Continue Reading

In a rather interesting news report in the Cape Cod Times, a young man is accused of breaking into a home located in Martha’s Vineyard where he allegedly painted the resident’s dog with purple paint and stole some items from the home. The accused man stands charged with more than a half dozen crimes, including breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony, cruelty to animals, and possession of several controlled substances.


Breaking and Entering

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Back in May of this year, it was suspected that a 62-year-old woman was kidnapped from her assisted living facility in Newton. The woman, identified as June Doe, a pseudonym, went missing in the middle of the afternoon after living at the facility for only two months. All that was found of Ms. Doe at the facility was her empty wheelchair. Ms. Doe disappeared shortly after being visited by a long-time friend, according to a news report by Boston.com. Police were concerned about the safety and well being of Ms. Doe since she had recently suffered a stroke, leaving her with diminished capacity, and because she was on important medication. Ms. Doe was found two days after being taken, when she was admitted to a Boston hospital. Continue Reading


Traffic Stop Leads to Drug Charges

Police made a traffic stop on Interstate 84 in mid-August and found considerably more than they bargained for. According to a recent report by Boston.com, the driver, Jeannie Ortiz, age 41, and passenger Domingo Ortiz, age 51, were found in possession of 85 grams of cocaine. The couple was charged with trafficking cocaine and conspiracy to violate state drug laws. Continue Reading


Larceny and Shoplifting Cases

I cannot even begin to put a number to the amount of calls I get from people bullied by store security personnel into confessing to crimes they did not commit. The scenario is always the same. Either a patron or an employee of a store (usually a larger store with many branches) is suspected of stealing. In the case of the patron it is typically goods. The employee matters more often involve money. The suspect is confronted by a loss prevention officer and brought into a room in or near the store. They are lied to, bullied and coerced into confessing and/or signing a statement admitting to the act and promising repayment. In fact, many of the people accused are one hundred percent innocent yet they now face an uphill battle defending a larceny or shoplifting case. This post explains how this can happen and why judges should dismiss larceny and shoplifting cases in these situations.

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In certain, limited circumstances, the harm caused by an individual’s criminal conduct could be  outweighed by the harm that would come with compliance with the law. In such circumstances, which are rare, the necessity defense might be available to the criminal defendant.


Necessity Defense

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