In the case of Commonwealth v. Parker, a Massachusetts appellate court issued a nonbinding decision ruling on the crime of misleading a police officer engaged in a criminal investigation. The case arose when a police officer was dispatched to a street in Chelsea after shots were purportedly fired at the defendant bus driver.
The officer arrived at the scene. The defendant told the officer that someone boarded the bus, showed a handgun, and ordered her to hand him all her money, and then fired a shot that lodged in the driver seat. The defendant claimed she stood to get her wallet, but the person hit her and caused her to fall on the floor, and then the person snatched her wallet and fired shots at her. She claimed none of the bullets struck her, but two of them pierced the sleeve of her jacket.
The defendant described her attacker as a white male wearing a hooded jacket and told the officer that his firearm was similar to the officer’s. The officer conducted a search of the bus but didn’t find any shell casing that would have been ejected if a gun like his had been fired. He also didn’t smell gunpowder residue.
Later, a bus investigator observed the jacket the defendant claimed to be wearing at the time of her assault. Ballistic tests were conducted on the jacket, and the conclusion of the examiner was that the defendant would have been hurt if shots had passed through the jacket. The defendant also offered details of the assault that seemed to conflict with her earlier claim. She claimed that the attacker referenced a debt owed by the defendant to her former girlfriend.
Another driver told investigators that before the supposed attack, he saw the defendant’s bus going the wrong way with its out of service sign lit up. The bus stopped, and it was empty. A few months later, the defendant filed for workers’ compensation benefits and collected those benefits.
The defendant was eventually convicted on the theory that she staged the whole attack in order to collect workers’ compensation. According to the prosecution, she had misled a police officer. Under G. L. c. 268, § 13B, the Commonwealth had to prove that the defendant willfully misled someone furthering a criminal investigation, while intending to obstruct the investigation.
In this case, the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. However, the appellate court explained that when evidence is mostly circumstantial, the inferences drawn in favor of the Commonwealth don’t need to be the only possible inferences. Instead, they must be both reasonable and possible. In this case, the appellate court found that a reasonable jury could have inferred from a changing story as well as forensic evidence that the defendant willfully misled investigators so that she could eventually collect workers’ compensation.
The court found that, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Massachusetts, a reasonable and rational jury could have convicted the defendant of intentionally misleading the police.
If you are charged in Massachusetts with a public order offense, like misleading a police officer or intimidating a witness, contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy today to discuss the criminal charges. Call us at 617-367-0450 or contact us through this website.
More Blog Posts:
Assault and Battery Causing Serious Injury in Massachusetts, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published January 14, 2015
Receiving Stolen Property in Massachusetts, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published December 15, 2014