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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Massachusetts drug possession case discussing whether evidence seized as a result of the police officers’ decision to “freeze” a home while the officers obtained a search warrant. The court ultimately determined that the officers were unable to identify any “specific information supporting an objectively reasonable belief that evidence will indeed be removed or destroyed.” Thus, the court held that the defendant’s motion to suppress should be granted.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, police officers were investigating a home after they received a tip that the house was involved in a prostitution ring. An undercover officer entered the home and pretended to be a customer. After being offered sex for money, the officers called in backup to arrest several people inside the house.

Evidently, the arresting officers noticed that other people were in the home, and decided to “freeze” the home, meaning to conduct a search to remove all occupants. In an upstairs bedroom, police found the defendant who was in possession of crack cocaine. The defendant was arrested and charged with possession of a class B substance.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Massachusetts drug case discussing whether the search warrant obtained by police was valid. The case involved the use of a confidential informant who did not know the defendant and did not ever mention to officers that the defendant was involved in the sale of narcotics. However, the court upheld the search that was conducted after officers obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s apartment through the officers’ independent investigation.

The Facts of the Case

Police received numerous tips that a man was selling narcotics out of a gold sedan. Several of the tips indicated that the sedan had a strap holding the vehicle’s truck in place. One of the tips came from a confidential informant who told officers that he had purchased narcotics from a man in a gold vehicle who was accompanied by a woman. Police went to the location provided by the tipsters and witnessed the subject of their investigation leave a residence and enter a gold sedan with a strap holding the trunk in place. A woman accompanied the subject.

Police ran the vehicle’s information, and it came back as registered to the defendant’s mother. Police also discovered that there had been a domestic disturbance call made about ten months prior by the defendant against the subject. Police began to believe that the defendant was the woman seen with the subject although they had no proof of that belief. Police officers conducted an investigation and obtained a phone number they believed to be the defendants. When police called as asked for the defendant by name, she replied “speaking.”

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Massachusetts violation of probation hearing that was premised on the defendant’s alleged possession of an unlicensed firearm. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the quantum of evidence necessary to sustain a violation of probation.

The Facts

The defendant was a juvenile who was placed on probation for an unarmed robbery. While on probation, the defendant was arrested for the possession of a firearm without a license. Evidently, police responded to a call for an instance of breaking and entering. Upon entering the residence, police found several teens in the attic. The defendant was sitting on a chair with a black jacket draped over the back of it.

The police officers put all the teens up against the wall after seeing what they believed to be a handgun protruding out of another teen’s jacket. After searching all the teenagers, police officers found a gun in the black jacket that was draped over the chair that the defendant was sitting in. Later in the evening, two of the teens in the attic told police that the black jacket belonged to the defendant. However, one of the other teens told police that it was his jacket.

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During jury selection in a Massachusetts criminal trial, both the prosecution and the defense are able to ask the court to strike potential jurors from the jury whom they do not believe could be fair. These strikes “for cause” are unlimited in number. However, both sides are also given a limited number of peremptory strikes, which can be used at the party’s discretion.

Decades ago, in a landmark case issued by the United States Supreme Court, the Court held that a criminal defendant has a constitutional right, under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, to ensure that members of his race are not excluded from the jury pool based solely on their race. Since then, Massachusetts criminal courts have implemented their own rules to deal with a prosecutor’s racially discriminatory use of their peremptory strikes during jury selection.

In a recent case, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts discussed the analysis that must be conducted when a defendant raises this type of challenge. The facts of the case are not particularly relevant to the court’s discussion; however, the case involved an African-American man who was charged with homicide.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Massachusetts criminal law case discussing whether a text message that was sent to the defendant’s phone while the phone was in police custody should be suppressed. Ultimately, the court concluded that the phone was lawfully seized after a search incident to the defendant’s arrest. Further, the court held that the manner in which the officer saw the text message did not constitute a “search.” Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

The Facts of the Case

A police officer observed what he believed to be a drug transaction being conducted in a grocery store parking lot. As the police officer approached the defendant, who was alleged to have been the seller, the defendant ran. Another police officer caught up to the defendant a short time later and arrested him. The officer found cash and a cell phone on the defendant, and a black bag containing crack cocaine nearby on the ground.

The police officer took custody of the defendant’s phone and took it back to the station. A short time later, while the defendant was being processed, the cell phone began to ring. The officer looked at the ringing phone and saw a text message notification on the main screen. The court did not disclose the contents of the message, but it was likely damaging to the defendant as the prosecution planned on entering it into evidence. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the text message, arguing that it was discovered as the result of an illegal search.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts gun possession case discussing whether a defendant who is found guilty of a qualifying offense, and has previously been adjudicated delinquent of another qualifying juvenile offense, can be sentenced as a repeat offender under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). In discussing the issue, the court conducted an analysis of the Eighth Amendment protection from “cruel and usual” punishment. However, the court ultimately concluded that qualifying juvenile adjudications may count as predicate offenses under the ACCA.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and carrying a loaded firearm in a Massachusetts gun case. After a jury trial, but before the defendant was sentenced, the issue was raised as to whether the defendant should be sentenced under the ACCA as a repeat offender. Specifically, the issue presented to the court was whether the defendant’s juvenile adjudications, of which there were two, counted as “convictions” under the ACCA.

The Massachusetts ACCA creates a tiered system of punishment under which those who have previous qualifying convictions are sentenced to mandatory minimum sentences based on the number of previous qualifying convictions. The mandatory sentence for each subsequent conviction gets longer, ultimately reaching a sentence of 15 to 20 years for those with three or more qualifying convictions.

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In a recent Massachusetts criminal law appellate opinion, a state court discussed the difference between the two types of battery, attempted and threatened, and whether the latter requires a finding that the victims were aware of the defendant’s conduct. Ultimately, the court concluded that a threatened battery does require that the victim be aware of the defendant’s conduct, and reversed two of the defendant’s four convictions on that theory.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant was charged with four counts of assault for allegedly using his vehicle to intentionally crash into another vehicle containing his ex-girlfriend, her new boyfriend, and two other passengers.

The two rear-seat passengers testified that they got in the car, everything seemed fine, and then the next thing they knew they had been hit by another vehicle. They both believed they had been struck by a drunk driver. The two front seat passengers saw the defendant’s car approaching, although only one of them was able to make out the defendant as the driver.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts robbery case discussing whether the lower court properly granted the defendant’s motion to suppress. Ultimately, the appellate court concluded that the lower court erred in applying settled legal principles, and it reversed the granting of the defendant’s motion to suppress.The Facts of the Case

Police were investigating a series of robberies that occurred at various Dunkin Donuts restaurants. The first robbery occurred on July 8, 2015. Witnesses reported that the robber was a black man, about 180 to 200 pounds, who wore a stocking cap and drove a small blue car. Video surveillance showed the man was wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

Later on July 8, another Dunkin Donuts store was robbed. Witnesses gave police a similar although not identical description. The store manager told police that the robber drove up to the drive-thru window, told the employee at the window not to push the panic button, and then reached in through the window to open the cash register. Video of the incident showed the robber was wearing plastic gloves and had on a distinctive sweatshirt.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts drug case discussing whether the police possessed probable cause to obtain the warrant they used to search the defendant’s apartment. Finding that the tip from a confidential informant gave police probable cause to believe the defendant was involved in the sale of narcotics, and followed by an “imperfectly” executed controlled-buy, the court reversed a lower court’s ruling granting the defendant’s motion to suppress.

The Facts of the Case

Police were given a tip by a confidential informant (CI) that the defendant sold cocaine from his apartment. The CI provided police with a description of the defendant, as well as his name and address. Police verified that a man by the defendant’s name lived at the address provided by the CI, and then arranged for the CI to make a controlled-buy from the defendant.

The CI was seen approaching the defendant’s foyer, and then seen a short time later leaving the defendant’s foyer. At no point was the defendant seen, and the CI was not seen entering the defendant’s home. When the CI returned to police, he provided them with cocaine and told the police it was obtained from the defendant.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts gun case requiring the court determine if a firearm that was recovered from the defendant after he was illegally stopped by police should be suppressed. The court found that the defendant’s act of punching the police officer after the illegal search had begun was an intervening criminal act justifying the defendant’s arrest and the officers’ subsequent search. Thus, the lower court’s decision to deny the defendant’s motion to suppress was affirmed.

The Facts of the Case

Several police officers were in an unmarked car when they observed what they believed to be a drug transaction. The officers circled back to see if they could confirm their suspicions, but by the time they returned to where the transaction had occurred the parties had left.

Shortly after, the officers came across a group of several men, one of whom was the defendant. Another one of the men was a known gang member. Initially, the officers thought that they may have been involved in the drug transaction, but upon approaching, they realized that not to be the case. Nevertheless, the officers exited their car and frisked members of the group, including the defendant. Nothing was recovered.

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