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.
The defendant was charged with carrying a firearm without a license, carrying a loaded firearm, and possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card. Soon after being charged, the defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the traffic stop was unconstitutional. Thus the evidence seized from the stop should not be allowed at trial. The judge denied the defendant’s motion, and he was found guilty of carrying a firearm without a license. The defendant quickly appealed the jury’s decision.
In his appeal, the defendant argued that the officers did not have the authority to stop him a second time on the evening in question. Once the initial interaction ended, said the defendant, the officers had no reason to suspect criminal activity, because as far as they knew, the defendant was simply moving his car away from the double parking spot. Given the fact that the officers lacked authority to conduct this second stop, the evidence seized from the stop should not have been used at trial.
The court considered the defendant’s argument and agreed with his reasoning. According to the court, after the defendant moved his car, the officers had fulfilled their duty and had no reason to think there was criminal activity afoot. The defendant did what the officers asked him to do by moving his car – after the defendant complied, the officers should not have stopped him again without a valid reason to do so. Because the officers lacked credible suspicion of the defendant, the traffic stop was unreasonable, and the evidence should have been suppressed.
The court thus reversed the lower court’s decision and vacated the defendant’s conviction.
Are You Facing Criminal Charges After a Traffic Stop in Massachusetts?
If you were arrested following a Massachusetts traffic stop, and if you are now facing criminal charges as a result, give us a call at the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy. We remain committed to understanding your story, evaluating all possible defense strategies, and following through by providing the best representation for your individual circumstances. For a free consultation, call us at 617-367-0450.