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.
The recent revelation of a non-disclosure agreement signed by the Boston Police Department at the request of the FBI has raised some concerns in the criminal defense world after a public records request generated proof of Boston PD’s investigation activities. The Boston Police Department admitted publicly to entering into a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI concerning cell phone tracking technology. Cell phone tracking is a controversial investigative technique at this point in time because it is used by many law enforcement agencies, but there are privacy concerns over whether using cell phone trackers should be authorized. Continue reading
In light of so many instances of police-involved shootings over the past year across the country, the Boston City Council is considering a proposed pilot program that would have Boston city police wearing body cameras to record officers’ activities, CBSBoston reports. The purpose of the cameras would be to observe the officers’ actions in an unbiased way, including their interactions with civilians and suspects. Continue reading
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States limits the power of the police to make arrests and conduct searches on individuals and their property. To honor the privacy of the individual, searches and seizures are considered to be unlawful and are dismissible in a court of law if they are deemed unreasonable. However, there are certain exceptions within the 4th amendment that allow for searches and seizures to take place.
Search Warrants Must Meet Certain Requirements
Citizens are protected from unlawful search of their homes, person, vehicles and other property unless a law enforcement officer has obtained a valid search warrant and has probable cause to conduct a search. This protection is provided under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. If any evidence of a crime is discovered or collected during an illegal search, it will not be admissible in court proceedings against you. Attacking search warrants can result in having your case dismissed and we have won serious drug cases and gun cases this way. This post takes a look at Massachusetts search warrants.
The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reports that twenty-one year old Hector Martes of Lawrence Massachusetts was rushed to the hospital after he was stabbed in his upper abdomen and rib cage. According to reports, Martes told hospital workers that while playing “beer pong” at his home he was stabbed after an argument erupted with his stepfather and brother. The police are still investigating the incident and Martes is listed in stable condition.
Although all of the facts are unknown at this time, it appears that one of the parties could ultimately be charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. In order for the Commonwealth to prove this crime, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant intentionally touched another person with a dangerous weapon. Another theory that the government may assert is that a defendant engaged in reckless conduct that resulted in bodily injury. In the event that the defendant’s step-father and/or brother are charged in this, potential defenses include misidentification by the victim as to who the perpetrator was and/or self-defense and defense of another.
It is also worthy to note that anyone questioned by the police is not under any obligation to speak to them. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being questioned by the police you should refuse to answer any questions until you have consulted with an experienced Boston area attorney. If you choose to speak with the police anything that you say may be used against you in court. If a defendant is questioned by the police an experienced Lawrence Massachusetts area lawyer will review the circumstances to determine whether a motion to suppress the statement should be litigated.
The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reports that a Lawrence Massachusetts man faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in state prison if convicted of charges stemming from a drug bust. Marcelo Perez, 48, of 210 Lawrence St., was charged with drug crimes including two counts of trafficking cocaine, two counts of unlawful possession of a handgun, two counts of unlawful possession of ammunition and possession of a dangerous weapon.
Three local authorities worked together focusing on suspected drug activity in the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot on Main Street in Haverhill Massachusetts. Reports indicate that when he was arrested Perez had loaded .38 caliber pistol and 305 grams of cocaine in his jacket. With the assistance of the Tewksbury K9 unit, police discovered a hidden compartment in the back floor of Perez’s jeep. It has been reported that the authorties seized an additional 30.7 grams of cocaine another loaded handgun, a box of ammunition and a digital scale. Police estimated the street value of the cocaine at $6,500.
If you have been charged with any drug crime in Massachusetts, it is imperative that you have an experienced defense attorney on your side. Most drug arrests stem from a search that has been conducted by the police. Attacking the legality of the search is often times the first step to a successful litigation of a drug offense. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this is done by filing a motion to suppress evidence seized from a defendant, his or her car and/or his or her home or apartment. Attorney McCarthy has successfully litigated these types of motions. If the evidence is suppressed the government is left without a case.
Based on the recent Supreme Court decision of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, it is imperative that a qualified defense lawyer attack any drug certificate that the District Attorney attempts to introduce in order to establish that the seized substance is in fact an illegal drug. The Supreme Court has indicated that the Commonwealth cannot merely introduce a drug certificate to prove that a retrieved product is contraband. Based on this new case law, in most cases, the Commonwealth is required to produe a chemist that examined the item and determined that is was an illegal drug. The Courts and the District Attorneys’ offices are scrambling to try to get around this requirement. If you find yourself facing drug charges you must have an experienced Massachusetts criminal lawyer on your side to fight for all of your rights.
Many people applauded when the legislature “decriminalized” the offense of possession of marijuana that is one ounce or less. The new section changes possession of an ounce or less of marijuana from a criminal offense to a civil infraction and an offender receives a civil citation. For adults, this offense is now punishable by a $100.00 fine and forfeiture of the substance. However, if a person is under eighteen years old he or she must complete a drug awareness program. This program requires of a minimum of four hours classroom instruction or group discussion and ten hours of community service. A certificate of completion of the program must be filed with the Clerk of the local district court within one year of the offense or the offender may face higher fines and possibility a criminal charge. Furthermore, being charged with possession of marijuana can still be problematic and sometimes have legal consequences.
For example, it appears that many teenagers are looking at this offense as a “free pass” to smoke marijuana and drive — it is not. If an individual is “high” and driving he or she can still face charges of driving under the influence of drugs. Furthermore, even if someone is in possession of an ounce or less of the substance admitting that he or she shared a “joint” with a friend or gave some of the product to another can result in being charged with distribution of marijuana. Informing the police that he or she intended to share the drug can result in charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. In the event that a search is conducted and scales, baggies, a large amount of money, razor blades and/or mirrors [items often used to package contraband for distribution] are found when an ounce or less is involved, the police will likely charge those involved with possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Make no mistake about it — these are serious criminal charges that carry the potential for jail sentences, license loss and have life altering consequences. If you are in the unfortunate position of being charged with distribution or intent to distribute marijuana within 1000 feet of a school zone you face the possibility of a mandatory minimum of two years in jail. Furthermore, if you are on probation and being drug tested, testing positive for marijuana may be a violation of your probation. Make sure you and your teenagers understand the pitfalls people have been facing by underestimating the teeth in this recent legislation.
The shooting death of Robert Plaza, 32 of Lawrence Massachusetts marks what the police suspect is the fourth homicide in the city this year and the second in less than a month. The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reports that Plaza careened into a chain-link fence in front of a local assisted living building. When firefighters and concerned citizens attempted to pull Plaza from his vehicle they discovered a gun shot wound to his chest. He was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later. The authorities are treating Plaza’s death as a homicide and believe it was the result of a “drug transaction gone bad.”
If you have been charged with a firearm offense or a drug offense you must contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. In Massachusetts, a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in a school zone can result in a commitment to the house of correction or to state prison. A conviction for a firearm offense can result in a defendant serving a minimum of eighteen months in jail.
In order to properly defend against these types of crimes, a good Massachusetts trial attorney often files appropriate pre-trial motions. These motions include motions to dismiss and motions to suppress physical evidence and statements. Successful litigation of these types of motions often result in the dismissal of the charges.
According to The Lawrence Eagle Tribune, a Lawrence Massachusetts man was arrested and charged with carrying a firearm without a license, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, and possession of ammunition without a firearms identification card. The Tribune reports that police were called to the Fern Street neighborhood due to reports of a man firing up to six gunshots “over his head.” During the early morning hours, a neighbor heard commotion and went to his window where he saw a pair of men. One of the individuals was “holding a gun over [the other person’s] head.” After repeatedly firing the gun, witnesses stated that the man walked into an apartment on Fern Street in Lawrence.
The police arrested this defendant and three of his roommates. The paper reports that one of the roommates was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest while the other two were charged as keepers of a disorderly home. Police recovered a .32-caliber semiautomatic handgun behind the home. Shell casings were also recovered from the street.
If you have been charged with any crime, you must contact a Massachusetts defense attorney to ensure that all of your rights are protected. In any case where “possession” of the alleged item is an element of the crime and experienced trial attorney can evaluate whether filing a pre-trial motion to suppress the evidence is a viable option. A successful litigation of a motion to suppress evidence means the suppression of the physical evidence and often times dismissal of the case against a defendant.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it important that you contact a criminal attorney familiar with the elements that the government must prove to secure a conviction. For example, to prove the crime of discharging of a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling or other building in use you can face a penalty ranging from by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than three months, or both. However, there are exceptions to the enforcement of this law that include the lawful defense of life and property; any law enforcement officer acting in the discharge of his duties; (c) persons using underground or indoor target or test ranges with the consent of the owner or legal occupant thereof; (d) persons using outdoor skeet, trap, target or test ranges with the consent of the owner or legal occupant of the land on which the range is established; (e) persons using shooting galleries, licensed and defined pursuant to statute; and (f) the discharge of blank cartridges for theatrical, athletic, ceremonial, firing squad, or other purposes in accordance with the statute.