In a recent opinion from a Massachusetts court, the defendant’s appeal of his convictions connected to an armed assault and carjacking was denied. The defendant argued in his appeal that the procedures that officers used to identify him as the person who committed the assault and carjacking were unnecessarily suggestive. Because these procedures were unfair, said the defendant, his convictions should be reversed. The court disagreed, denying the defendant’s appeal.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, two women arrived at a residence in Massachusetts to inquire about a potential cleaning job. The women arrived in separate cars, and when they got to the residence, one woman got out of her car and went to speak with the other woman in her car. At that time, a man came up behind one of the women and pointed a small black gun at her. The man began to tell the women to “get out.” The woman in the car exited her vehicle, and the man immediately got into her car and drove away.
One of the women immediately called 911 and reported the incident. An officer arrived, and the women gave the officer a physical description of the man who had taken the car. A report was broadcast over the police radio that included a description of the suspect, the license plate number of the woman’s vehicle, and the suspect’s direction of flight. Another officer in the area heard the broadcast and saw a car matching the description of the stolen car. Following the car, the officer saw the driver run a red line and crash into a telephone pole. The officer apprehended the driver and arrested him.
Within a few minutes, officers brought the two women to the scene of the accident. As soon as the women saw the defendant, they said, “that was him.”
The defendant was convicted of crimes connected with the armed assault and carjacking. On appeal, he argued that the manner in which the police asked the women to identify him was unnecessarily suggestive. He argued that the “show-up” procedure, or the process in which the two women came to the scene of the accident and immediately identified him, was inappropriate because the police knew they had arrested the right person and because less suggestive identification procedures (such as a lineup back at the station) were available.
The court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately disagreed with him. In order for a defendant to prove that a show-up procedure is unnecessarily suggestive, that defendant must show that the police did not have good reason to conduct the show-up procedure. In this circumstance, there was good reason to conduct this show-up identification. The police were investigating a violent crime that involved a firearm and thus needed to conduct the identification as soon as possible. Also, allowing the women to come straight to the scene of the accident allowed their recollections to be fresh, and if the witnesses had said that the suspect was not the same person who took their car, the police would have needed to quickly continue their search. For these reasons, then, the officers’ method of identifying the defendant was appropriate, and the defendant’s appeal was denied.
Have You Been Criminally Charged in Massachusetts?
If you have been charged with assault, robbery, or other criminal acts in Massachusetts, it is important that you retain an attorney who can walk you through your options and remain committed to standing by your side. At the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy, we are dedicated to serving and protecting you throughout all stages of your case, offering individualized representation that takes your needs into account. For a free consultation, give us a call at 617-367-0450.