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.
The store manager told police that he believed the robber may have been a former employee who was recently terminated. Police followed up on that information, which led them to the defendant. The defendant was a black man who weighed less than 180 pounds. His sister owned a small blue car.
The third robbery occurred on July 22, 2015. Immediately after the robbery, police drove to the defendant’s home. Upon arriving, they saw a small blue car parked in the driveway, running with its headlights on. Police blocked the car in the driveway and approached. As police got near the vehicle, they noticed two men were inside. The defendant was in the passenger seat. Police asked him to show his hands, and the defendant kept moving them out of the officers’ view. Eventually, the officers ordered the defendant out of the car. Prior to getting out of the car, the defendant attempted to kick a piece of clothing under the seat.
The defendant was searched, and police found a ski mask, plastic gloves, over $270 in cash, and the same sweatshirt and pants that were shown in the video from the robbery that occurred earlier that day. The defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the police did not have probable cause or a reasonable suspicion to block the car and then approach the defendant, ordering him to show his hands and ultimately ordering him out of the vehicle.
The trial court granted the motion, finding that the second Dunkin Donuts store manager was acting only on a hunch that the defendant was involved in the robberies. The Commonwealth appealed, and the appellate court reversed. The court explained that the police had a reasonable suspicion to block the defendant’s car in the driveway, given the information they had from the three robberies. Once they approached the vehicle, the court held, the defendant’s lack of cooperation provided them with probable cause to order him out of the car and conduct the search.
Have You Been Charged with a Serious Crime in Boston?
If you have recently been arrested and charged with a serious crime, you should consult with a dedicated Boston criminal attorney. At the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy, we represent those who are facing all types of serious criminal charges, including robbery and other theft cases. We provide free, confidential consultations to all prospective clients to discuss how we can help them fight the case against them and defend their freedom. To learn more, call 617-367-0450 to schedule your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Massachusetts Court Reverses Indecent Assault Conviction Based on Insufficient Evidence, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published June 14, 2018
Massachusetts Court Upholds Officer’s Frisk Although It Was Not Justified at Its Inception, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published July 6, 2018