Articles Posted in Gun Crimes

In a recent case before an appeals court in Massachusetts, the defendant argued his motion to suppress incriminating evidence should have been granted by the lower court. According to the defendant, the officer that found a firearm on his person unlawfully searched him, and thus the evidence should not have been considered admissible by the trial court. On appeal, the higher court looked at the case law and ultimately determined that the officer was within his rights when he conducted the search, and that thus the firearm was admissible after all.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, police officers were executing a valid search warrant at the home of the defendant’s brother-in-law one evening in September 2018. The officers were investigating the brother-in-law for possession of illegal drugs and firearms, and they did not realize that the defendant also lived at the residence as they conducted their search. The brother-in-law was present for the officers searched his home, and he willingly cooperated throughout the process.

Midway through the officers’ search, the defendant opened the locked front door and walked into the home. One of the officers immediately approached the defendant and grabbed his wrists, afraid that he would be a threat to the rest of the search. While the officer was putting the defendant in handcuffs, he felt an object around the defendant’s waistband and found a firearm.

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Earlier this month, a court of appeals in Massachusetts reviewed the Commonwealth’s appeal of a lower court’s order in a firearms case. Originally, the lower court had granted a defendant’s motion to suppress, agreeing with the defendant that police officers had illegally retrieved a firearm from his person when investigating potentially suspicious activity. On appeal, however, the higher court reversed this ruling and decided that the officers were within their rights when they secured the firearm.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, police officers were on patrol one evening when they saw a pickup truck driving on the wrong side of the road and turning without using a signal. The officers activated their vehicle’s siren and conducted a traffic stop. As they approached, the officers noticed that there were three individuals in the truck; the passenger in the back of the truck ended up being the defendant in this case.

During the interaction between the officers and the passengers, the defendant began acting nervously. He turned his torso away from the officer and began reaching with one arm toward his leg. The officer ordered the defendant to put his hands on the headrest, but the defendant instead reached again toward his leg. The officer then ordered the defendant out of the truck, conducted a pat frisk, and found a firearm on his person. The defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.

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In a recent firearm case coming out of a Massachusetts court, the Commonwealth appealed a lower court’s decision in favor of a defendant who had been charged with two firearm offenses. Reviewing the Commonwealth’s appeal, the court of appeals agreed with the lower court and sided with the defendant, concluding that the officers that found the firearm on the defendant’s person did not have the right to pat him down in the first place. Given this conclusion, the lower court’s decision in favor of the defendant was affirmed.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was stopped one evening after three police officers saw him make two abrupt turns in his vehicle. The officers activated their cruiser’s blue lights, and the defendant stopped his car. Once the officers approached the defendant in the driver’s seat, the defendant and one of the officers realized they were already familiar with each other. The officer had stopped the defendant five times over the course of several years, once arresting the defendant for possession of a firearm.

In a recent firearm case coming out of a Massachusetts court, the defendant’s appeal of his guilty verdict was denied. The defendant argued that part of the evidence presented against him, an incriminating Snapchat video, should not have been admissible at trial. The court disagreed with the defendant’s argument and ultimately denied his appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was shopping at a convenience store when he went to the cashier to check out. Another customer got in line behind the defendant, and she later testified that she waited patiently as the defendant engaged in a long conversation with the cashier. At one point, the defendant turned toward the second customer and asked whether she had a problem. The customer noticed that the defendant’s zipper was undone and that a firearm was on display under his shorts.

The customer quickly left the market and called the police. A few hours later, officers were patrolling the area and found a person matching the customer’s description. They stopped the person, who happened to be the defendant in this case. At that point, the defendant did not have any weapons on his person.

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In a recent case coming out of a Massachusetts court, the defendant argued that officers did not have a legal reason to conduct a traffic stop of his vehicle. Because the officers had no reason to conduct the stop, the incriminating evidence that the officers found during the traffic stop should have been suppressed. Looking at the circumstances, the court agreed with the defendant and reversed his original guilty verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, two Boston police officers were on patrol one evening in an unmarked car. When they saw a double-parked vehicle, they went to investigate and found the defendant sitting in the back seat of the car. One of the two officers recognized the defendant from prior interactions, and the two individuals began conversing. The officers advised the defendant to move his car, and they then watched the defendant drive away.

The defendant passed several other parking spots, choosing not to park but instead to turn onto another street. At that point, the officers became suspicious and pulled the defendant over. One of the officers immediately saw a gun on the floor of the backseat, at which point the defendant was arrested.

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In a recent firearm case from a Massachusetts court, the defendant’s motion to suppress incriminating evidence was denied. A lower court had originally granted the defendant’s motion, deciding the police officer that originally stopped him did not have sufficient reason to suspect that he was carrying a gun. Disagreeing with the lower court, the higher court reversed the ruling and ultimately denied the defendant’s motion.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, one evening at approximately 2:00am, a police officer was patrolling in his car when he received a radio dispatch telling him of a ShotSpotter alert nearby. ShotSpotter devices go off when there is an audible gunshot, and when the devices are activated, they provide police officers with a sense of the area where the possible gunshot took place. Once the officer heard about the ShotSpotter, he was able to drive to the area identified by the device. As he was driving, the office received several more reports of ShotSpotter alerts and then began to hear gunshots for himself.

In the area identified by the ShotSpotter, the police officer only saw one person – the defendant in this case. According to the officer, the defendant appeared as though he was intoxicated. The officer immediately told the defendant to lie on the ground until another office could arrive. Once the second officer came on the scene, the two officers handcuffed the defendant, pat him down, and found a firearm in his right pocket.

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In a recent opinion from a Massachusetts court regarding firearms offenses, the defendant’s appeal of his guilty verdict was dismissed with no relief. The defendant had originally been found illegally possessing firearms after an undercover police officer connected with him on Snapchat and saw videos of him carrying a revolver. On appeal, the defendant argued that the undercover officer violated his constitutional right to privacy. Disagreeing with the defendant, the court affirmed the guilty conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, in 2017, a Boston police officer sent a friend request to a private Snapchat account that belonged to the defendant. The officer sent the request from an undercover account that he had created for the purpose of investigating crimes on social media. According to the officer, his username on the account was a pseudonym chosen at random, and the profile picture associated with his account was the default picture chosen by Snapchat.

The defendant accepted the undercover officer’s friend request. Upon reviewing the defendant’s posts on Snapchat, the officer came to realize that he was familiar with the defendant through his previous work as a police officer and that he knew the defendant was prohibited from carrying firearms because of prior criminal convictions.

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Recently, a Massachusetts court denied a defendant’s appeal in a firearms case. The defendant had been found guilty of possessing a firearm without a license, and he made four different arguments to try and reverse the original verdict. The court took issue with all four arguments, ultimately denying his appeal and keeping the guilty verdict as it stood.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, in May 2016, a large truck ran into a telephone pole on the side of the road. The pole immediately broke into two pieces, and the truck blocked the road so that no one could drive by. The police department arrived at the scene and found live electrical wires hanging in the area, fluid leaking from the telephone pole, and the defendant sitting in the driver’s seat. An emergency vehicle transported the defendant to the hospital after discovering that he had sustained multiple injuries.

Officers decided the vehicle needed to be towed, and they searched the car before calling the tow truck. In the vehicle, officers found a black duffel bag with a full beer can, two empty liquor bottles, and a black .22 caliber handgun with a loaded magazine. When they conducted a records check, the officers discovered that the defendant was not licensed to carry a firearm. The defendant was later found guilty of possessing a firearm without a license.

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Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed a lower court’s denial of a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence. The case arose when the Worcester Police were granted a search warrant for the defendant’s apartment and followed the defendant as he was seen leaving the apartment building in a motor vehicle. After the vehicle sped away, the police returned to the apartment building and executed the search warrant. An officer knocked three times on the apartment door, announced that the police were present with a search warrant, and the officers waited five to eight seconds before entering the apartment with force. The apartment search revealed several items, including a firearm and ammunition.

The defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the failure of the police to knock or announce their presence at all before forcing entry into the apartment should prevent the items found in his apartment from being used against him in court.

Generally, when reviewing a lower court’s decision on a motion to suppress, the appeals court must accept the lower court judge’s findings of fact unless there is some clear error made by the lower court judge. Also, in instances where there is conflicting testimony regarding a particular event, it is left up to the lower court judge to determine the weight and credibility of any oral testimony presented at the motion to suppress hearing.

In a recent opinion, the Supreme Judicial Court vacated a Massachusetts defendant’s possession of a firearm conviction. The case arose when a state trooper followed the defendant’s vehicle and activated his lights to stop the defendant for driving five miles over the speed limit. The defendant sped, parked, and fled while the police pursued him. When the police reached the defendant, he threw something from his pocket into a dumpster. Officials later recovered a baggie of crack cocaine in the dumpster, and a vehicle search revealed several items, including a pistol with several rounds of inserted ammunition. After reading the defendant his Miranda rights, a police officer inquired about the items in the vehicle, and the defendant stated that he ran because of the drugs and he did not know about the handgun.

Amongst other issues, the defendant argued that under Commonwealth v. Brown, a defendant could only be convicted of possessing a loaded firearm, if the Commonwealth proves that the defendant knew that the firearm was loaded. The defendant argued that this decision is retroactive, and therefore the Commonwealth did not meet their evidentiary burden.

In most cases, Massachusetts courts do not analyze whether a decision applies retroactively or prospectively. Generally, courts retain discretion to apply the decision only prospectively. Courts will look to whether the retroactive application is consistent with the rule and whether it would result in significant “hardship or inequity.” In this case, the court did not find any reason to only apply the decision prospectively. In analyzing the statute, the court found that the element of knowledge required by the lesser included offense of unlawful possession of a loaded firearm, must be evident to convict the defendant of the greater offense. Moreover, the court reasoned that the Commonwealth’s purported hardship from their lack of warning that they needed to prove the knowledge element is outweighed by the risk that the defendant would be unlawfully convicted of a crime.

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