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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.

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In a recent opinion having to do with fraudulent credit cards, a Massachusetts court reversed the lower court’s decision granting a defendant’s motion to suppress. The defendant was charged with several crimes, one of which was possession of counterfeit credit cards. The defendant had argued that incriminating evidence supporting this charge should be denied, and at first, the court agreed with him. When the Commonwealth appealed, however, the higher court reversed that decision and decided to deny the defendant’s motion to suppress.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, police officers received information in December 2017 from an attorney that represented a local furniture store regarding two fraudulent purchases of furniture. The lawyer explained that the day after the furniture was delivered to an apartment, the credit card company disputed the charges and the furniture store received a chargeback notice.

An additional order was placed by telephone to the same store shortly thereafter, and again the furniture store received notice of a chargeback. An employee of the store went to the delivery address to investigate, and the person answering the door said that he had to get ready for school, then never came back to the door.

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In a recent firearm case from a Massachusetts court, the defendant’s motion to suppress incriminating evidence was denied. A lower court had originally granted the defendant’s motion, deciding the police officer that originally stopped him did not have sufficient reason to suspect that he was carrying a gun. Disagreeing with the lower court, the higher court reversed the ruling and ultimately denied the defendant’s motion.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, one evening at approximately 2:00am, a police officer was patrolling in his car when he received a radio dispatch telling him of a ShotSpotter alert nearby. ShotSpotter devices go off when there is an audible gunshot, and when the devices are activated, they provide police officers with a sense of the area where the possible gunshot took place. Once the officer heard about the ShotSpotter, he was able to drive to the area identified by the device. As he was driving, the office received several more reports of ShotSpotter alerts and then began to hear gunshots for himself.

In the area identified by the ShotSpotter, the police officer only saw one person – the defendant in this case. According to the officer, the defendant appeared as though he was intoxicated. The officer immediately told the defendant to lie on the ground until another office could arrive. Once the second officer came on the scene, the two officers handcuffed the defendant, pat him down, and found a firearm in his right pocket.

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In a recent opinion from a Massachusetts court regarding firearms offenses, the defendant’s appeal of his guilty verdict was dismissed with no relief. The defendant had originally been found illegally possessing firearms after an undercover police officer connected with him on Snapchat and saw videos of him carrying a revolver. On appeal, the defendant argued that the undercover officer violated his constitutional right to privacy. Disagreeing with the defendant, the court affirmed the guilty conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, in 2017, a Boston police officer sent a friend request to a private Snapchat account that belonged to the defendant. The officer sent the request from an undercover account that he had created for the purpose of investigating crimes on social media. According to the officer, his username on the account was a pseudonym chosen at random, and the profile picture associated with his account was the default picture chosen by Snapchat.

The defendant accepted the undercover officer’s friend request. Upon reviewing the defendant’s posts on Snapchat, the officer came to realize that he was familiar with the defendant through his previous work as a police officer and that he knew the defendant was prohibited from carrying firearms because of prior criminal convictions.

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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.

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In a recent opinion coming out of a Massachusetts court, the defendant contested the fact that his hearing had been held over Zoom instead of in person. Appealing his guilty verdict, the defendant said his constitutional rights were violated because he was limited to a remote setting. Given the procedures that courts are currently taking because of COVID-19, the court rejected the defendant’s appeal.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was charged with assault and battery on a family member as well as strangulation. He was being held in prison in March 2020; at the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic began to sweep across the nation. During this time, Massachusetts courts limited in-person court proceedings to emergency matters only. Nonemergency matters were moved to virtual hearings, and defendants appeared at their hearings via Zoom.

In this case, the defendant received a bench trial conducted partially in person and partially online. All participants appeared in person except for the defendant and one of the Commonwealth’s witnesses (a neighbor of the defendant), both of whom participated in the hearing over Zoom. At the end of the hearing, the judge found the defendant guilty of simple assault and battery. The defendant was sentenced to time in prison.

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Recently, a Massachusetts court denied a defendant’s appeal in a firearms case. The defendant had been found guilty of possessing a firearm without a license, and he made four different arguments to try and reverse the original verdict. The court took issue with all four arguments, ultimately denying his appeal and keeping the guilty verdict as it stood.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, in May 2016, a large truck ran into a telephone pole on the side of the road. The pole immediately broke into two pieces, and the truck blocked the road so that no one could drive by. The police department arrived at the scene and found live electrical wires hanging in the area, fluid leaking from the telephone pole, and the defendant sitting in the driver’s seat. An emergency vehicle transported the defendant to the hospital after discovering that he had sustained multiple injuries.

Officers decided the vehicle needed to be towed, and they searched the car before calling the tow truck. In the vehicle, officers found a black duffel bag with a full beer can, two empty liquor bottles, and a black .22 caliber handgun with a loaded magazine. When they conducted a records check, the officers discovered that the defendant was not licensed to carry a firearm. The defendant was later found guilty of possessing a firearm without a license.

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In a recent decision from a court in Massachusetts, a lower court’s ruling that incriminating evidence should be suppressed was reversed. Originally, a lower court had determined that because a state trooper did not have sufficient reason to pull over the defendant on the highway, the drugs found in the defendant’s car should not be used against him in court. The higher court disagreed, saying the trooper did, in fact, have reason to pull the defendant over in the first place. It was thus acceptable for the State to use the incriminating evidence against the defendant at trial.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving on the highway when a state police trooper conducted a random check on the defendant’s vehicle to find out if it was properly registered. As a result, the trooper learned that the vehicle had failed its most recent inspection approximately two weeks earlier.

The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, as well as provisions in the Massachusetts Constitution, prevent law enforcement officers from performing a search of a person or their home without probable cause or a warrant. If a person consents to a search, this constitutional requirement may be waived. However, consent alone is not always sufficient to prevent an evidentiary challenge to the admission of evidence obtained by a warrantless search. The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently ruled on an appeal by a defendant who challenged the constitutionality of a search of an apartment where he had been staying.

According to the facts discussed in the judicial opinion, the defendant was the subject of a drug trafficking investigation and was also suspected of using false identities to conceal his alleged drug trafficking behavior. Law enforcement officers obtained search warrants for four apartments that the defendant was suspected of using in furtherance of criminal activity. While searching one of the apartments, officers found a key that they were able to track to another apartment that was leased by an alias of the defendant. Officers did not have a warrant to search this apartment. Police went to the apartment and used the key to open the door, encountering the alleged girlfriend of the defendant. After officers threatened the apartment’s occupant with arrest and other consequences if she failed to consent to a search, she consented to a search, where drugs and evidence of the defendant using false identities was found.

The defendant was arrested based on the evidence found in the apartment, and charged with drug crimes as well as using false identities. Before trial, the defendant asked the court to suppress the evidence that was found at the apartment, arguing that law enforcement lacked a warrant or probable cause to enter the apartment and that the consent given by the defendant’s girlfriend was invalid, as it was coerced. The trial judge denied the defendant’s motions, resulting in an interlocutory appeal to the Massachusetts Court of Appeals.

The scandal surrounding a chemist’s misconduct who worked at the Massachusetts State Crime Lab has had far-reaching consequences for thousands of Massachusetts defendants since it broke. After state chemist Annie Dookan pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence in 2013, defendants whose alleged drugs were tested by Ms. Dookan were entitled to have their convictions vacated. Since 2013, over 10,000 drug convictions have been vacated, and most defendants were not retried for their crimes. Defendants who were convicted of multiple crimes as part of one case however are required to fight harder to have all their convictions overturned. The Massachusetts Supreme Court recently heard a case in which a defendant sought to withdraw guilty pleas from several non-drug-related crimes that were connected to a drug charge that was vacated based on Ms. Dookan’s misconduct.

According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant in the recently decided appeal was charged with several crimes after he was suspected of committing an armed robbery. In addition to robbery and gun charges, he was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The defendant ultimately pleaded guilty to several charges, including both violent and drug offenses, and was sentenced to 3-5 years in state prison. Based on a broad ruling by the Suffolk County Court in 2017, the drug portions of his conviction were vacated, however, this did not benefit the defendant in any tangible way because the sentences for each of his convictions ran concurrently.

The defendant sought to withdraw his guilty pleas to the violent crimes, arguing that the plea agreement he made was based upon the strong drug evidence against him, and had he known that the drug evidence was tainted, he would have taken the other charges to trial. The trial judge denied the defendant’s request, finding that the gun charges against him were supported by strong evidence and that he would have accepted the plea offer even if the drug charges were thrown out.

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