Articles Posted in Gun Crimes

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gunIn a recent Massachusetts appellate case, the court considered whether the district court judge had made a mistake in denying a criminal defendant’s pretrial motion to suppress evidence that was found just before a pat frisk.

The firearm that was seized was discovered when the defendant and his companions were stopped by cops to investigate a report that shots had been fired. A cop had moved toward the defendant when the defendant was trying to avoid a pat frisk. The cop had only a general description of possible shooters. There was nothing linking the defendant and those with him to the crime scene or the group that a witness saw entering a courtyard.

The defendant moved to suppress the evidence (the firearm), claiming that the cops didn’t have a reasonable suspicion for the stop. The motion judge denied the motion, and the defendant was convicted. He appealed from his convictions, arguing that the police didn’t have a reasonable suspicion to stop him, so it was a mistake to deny the motion to suppress.

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bulletsIn a recent Massachusetts appellate decision, the defendant was convicted of carrying a loaded firearm without a license and carrying a firearm without a license. The case arose when an officer was patrolling in Boston and saw a car blocking traffic. After running its license plate number, he found that the owner of the car had a suspended license. The car turned without signaling, so he pulled it over.

The officer discovered that the owner of the car was also the driver. He confirmed she was driving with a suspended license. Neither of the passengers had licenses either, so all three had to get out of the car so that it could be towed away. Another officer joined the first, and they did an inventory search of the car. Inside the center console was a bullet.

One officer asked the defendant if he could look in her bag in a conversational way. The other officers were several feet away, discussing what should happen with the car. The defendant gave the officer the bag, and inside he saw a gun. The defendant was then taken into custody. She was convicted and then appealed.

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bedroomIn Commonwealth v. Dow, a defendant appealed after being convicted of multiple counts, including possession of a class B substance under G. L. c. 94C, § 34, a class C substance under G. L. c. 94C, § 34, illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition, possessing without a firearm identification card, and possessing a large capacity feeding device.

The police had searched the defendant’s home after applying for and receiving a search warrant. The detective on the case had been an officer since 2001 and had experience with narcotics cases. He received a tip from a confidential informant that the defendant was selling cocaine from his cars. The informant told the detective detailed information about the cars and the defendant’s apartment. During 2011, the informant made four controlled buys of cocaine from the defendant, and during three of them, the police saw the defendant go from his apartment to the purchase location without stopping. The informant came back to the police station without stopping and handed them cocaine.

At that point, a warrant was obtained to search the defendant’s apartment. The warrant covered all class B substances, as well as paraphernalia and any materials used to prepare cocaine, money used to buy or sell cocaine, and personal property. While searching, the police found a $40 bag of cocaine, half of a Suboxone pill, a cell phone, and over $1,500. They also seized paraphernalia, $11,000, guns, ammunition, and a pill box filled with four different kinds of prescription drugs.

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gun-1457134-e1462291545530In Commonwealth v. Bouyer, a Massachusetts defendant appealed from convictions of possessing a loaded firearm, possessing ammunition without a firearm card, and carrying a firearm without a license to do so. The case arose at around 12:20 a.m. when three plainclothes police officers were patrolling in an unmarked cruiser. They saw 8-10 people leaving an alley, and one of the officers told the others that two people in the group were gang members.

When the group noticed the cruiser, they changed their behavior. The defendant started walking faster with his right arm held to his body, although his other arm was swinging. Based on their training, the officers suspected he was holding an illegal firearm. The officers got out of the cruiser without activating their sirens or lights and without saying anything to the individuals or drawing weapons. Two officers followed the defendant, who slipped into a building.

The door shut before the second officer got there, but once he opened the door he saw the first officer in a struggle with the defendant. The first officer told the second officer that the defendant had a firearm, and so the second officer helped to subdue the defendant and get hold of the firearm, which was at the defendant’s waist.

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gun-1503923.jpgIn Commonwealth v. Romero, the court considered an interlocutory appeal of an order denying the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized and statements made after a warrantless search of a parked car that was registered in his name. At the suppression hearing, the police officers testified that five individuals, including the defendant, were gathered and drinking from open alcohol containers in a parking lot on the night in question. One of the individuals crouched behind a parked car. There were no trespassing and no parking signs posted, and the lot was dim.

The officer pat frisked the person crouching by the parked car and found nothing. The officer told him to go back to the group. The officer searched for 30-45 seconds and, finding nothing, returned to the other officers. The officers learned that none of the group lived in the area, and the defendant was previously arrested for armed robbery and might have had a knife on him. However, when he was pat frisked, no weapons were found.

An officer noticed that the side windows of a Dodge Caravan parked in front of the officer’s car were opened partway, and there was a fanny pack and jacket on the floor behind the driver’s seat. The officer thought there might be valuables in the car, and he asked if anyone owned the car or knew the owner. Nobody responded. The officer was worried for the officers’ safety and opened the Caravan’s door. He looked in the glove box, and when he frisked the fanny pack he found a loaded firearm.
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pistol-1329265-m.jpgMassachusetts gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation. Handgun owners must be licensed to buy firearms and ammunition and to carry them. A police officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop you for carrying a handgun without a license. What is reasonable suspicion?

In a recent appellate decision, a Massachusetts appellate court considered a situation in which two police officers tried to stop and question a defendant suspected of illegal activity. At the time, one of the officers had served in the department for 9 years and had been trained to identify those carrying concealed firearms. Part of the training was that an unlicensed carrier is less likely to use a holster and more likely to adjust the weapon inside his clothes. Another characteristic is head movements in multiple directions in order to determine if the weapon is being detected.

On the night in question, the officer was on an overnight shift, in the passenger seat of an unmarked patrol car. The neighborhood was home to three or four gangs and the officer had previously responded to gunfire incidents there. At 12:30 a.m. the officer and his partner saw the defendant walking with his hand inside his pocket. The defendant was adjusting an object. When he saw the patrol car, he looked surprised. The officer asked to speak with him. The defendant looked away and kept his right hand inside his pants. He turned the corner and started jogging.
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heavy-machinegun-1329270-m.jpgIn a recent non-precedential case, a Massachusetts defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. He was subject to enhanced penalties. A judge granted the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence of the firearm. The case arose when a uniformed police officer was standing outside a bar that he routinely surveilled for weapons violations and fights. The officer was approached a stranger who pointed out the defendant, claiming the defendant had shown him a gun holstered on his hip.

The defendant was already walking away and then turned back to look at the police officer. He abruptly turned left, and the officer inferred that the defendant changed his course in response to seeing the stranger talking to the officer. The officer requested backup and drove around the block in a cruiser. Another officer responded to the call for backup. When the officer found the defendant, he got out of his cruiser and told the defendant he wanted to talk to him.

The defendant ignored the office and crossed in front of a minivan. The officer heard something metallic drop to the ground. One of the officers saw him drop a gun and pulled out his own weapon. The defendant was ordered to the ground. The first officer handcuffed the defendant and arrested him. The defendant had been in possession of a .45 caliber pistol.
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courthouse-1330873-m-2.jpgTo prove the crime of perjury in Massachusetts, a prosecutor must prove (1) a defendant was required by law to state the truth in a judicial proceeding, (2) the defendant willfully testified falsely, and (3) the false statement was material to something at issue. What is materiality in this context? Something is material to the extent it reasonably affects an aspect or result of the judicial inquiry.

A recent case arose from a defendant’s conviction for perjury after he testified to a grand jury as to a shooting death. The defendant’s cousin was a suspect and was indicted for the murder. The issue in the defendant’s perjury trial was whether he had falsely testified to the grand jury.

The victim was shot near Maynard Street in Springfield just after midnight in May 2008. The defendant had testified to the grand jury he was with Keison Cuffee at another cousin’s (Whitney Walton) house on Westminster Street in Springfield until 1:15 a.m., providing the person with an alibi.
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In addition to some of the common criminal laws and statutes regarding the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is also a parallel system of federal laws which applies to all citizens living within any state in our nation.ammo box.jpg

One such law that may be unknowingly violated is the Lautenberg Amendment of the Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9), which states that it is unlawful “for any person who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, to … possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition.”

The issue of what sorts of domestic violence convictions count under this federal law was recently reviewed by the United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit, which is the federal court to which all Massachusetts district court cases are appealed.
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9mm.jpgA Quincy man who was recently released due to the controversy in processing criminal evidence by chemist Annie Dookhan, was re-arrested over the weekend along with another suspect, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney.

Police initially pulled over the vehicle due to its expired inspection sticker. They discovered that the driver was operating without a license. During a subsequent routine inventory search of the vehicle, police allegedly found a stolen 9mm loaded handgun.

The 27 year old driver was subsequently charged with receiving stolen property over $250, unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, and driving without an inspection sticker. He additionally faces charges as a Level II armed career criminal, based on separate convictions in 2006 for distribution of a Class B substance and possession with intent to distribute a Class B substance. The charges against the 31 year old recently released man were not reported.
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