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Massachusetts Court Upholds Officer’s Frisk Although It Was Not Justified at Its Inception

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.

One of the officers then asked the defendant to remove his shoes. The defendant kicked off his shoes and scooted them toward the officers. As one of the officers bent down to grab the defendant’s shoes, the defendant punched him in the head and attempted to flee. The other officers grabbed the defendant before he could get away. It was later discovered that there was a small gun inside the defendant’s shoe.

In a pre-trial motion to suppress, the defendant argued that the gun should not be admissible at trial because it was obtained as a result of an illegal search. The prosecution conceded that the search was illegal, but claimed that by punching the officer, the officers then had probable cause to arrest the defendant. Once the defendant was arrested, the prosecutor argued, the police were permitted to conduct a search of the defendant, which would include his shoes. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress, and he appealed.

The Appellate Court’s Opinion

The appellate court agreed with the prosecution, and affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress. The court explained that, had the defendant not punched the officer in the face, anything the officers recovered would have been suppressed. However, because the defendant’s illegal act of punching the officer gave the officers probable cause to arrest him, the court held that the gun was not suppressible.

Have You Been Arrested for the Possession of a Gun?

If you are currently dealing with a Boston gun case or drug possession charges, you could be facing serious consequences, including a lengthy jail sentence. These possessory offenses can often be beaten with a well-crafted motion to suppress any items the police seized from you. Too often, police act with perceived impunity when it comes to searching citizens and violate rights in the process. Attorney Patrick J. Murphy is a dedicated Boston criminal defense attorney who has decades of experience handling all types of criminal matters, ranging from Boston drug cases to violent crimes, and everything in between. To learn more about how Attorney Murphy can help you, call 617-367-0450 to schedule a 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 Discusses When Miranda Warnings Are Required in Recent Drug Trafficking Case, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published May 30, 2018