1. In a recent Massachusetts appellate court opinion regarding an appeal claiming insufficient evidence to support the conviction, the court upheld the trial court decision, affirming the conviction. At trial, the defendant and the co-defendant were convicted on various charges arising from the operation of a series of brothels in North Reading, Quincy, Boston, and Cambridge. On appeal, the defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the information provided in support of a search warrant application was inadequate to establish a nexus between the alleged crimes and his home and cell phone.

Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, in January 2017, law enforcement began to investigate five different residences located in North Reading, Boston, Quincy, and Cambridge, where they believed illegal sexual services were being provided. Police located the apartments through advertisements for massage services on the website Backpage, and then contacted the leasing offices for those units. The defendant’s name was on the rental agreements for both the North Reading and Cambridge apartments as well as one of the Quincy apartments. The defendant also paid monthly rent for the apartments, using a check with his name and home address on it. On January 2, 2017, law enforcement officers stopped the defendant after observing him make an illegal U-turn. The defendant told police officers that he was coming from his primary residence to check the mail and empty the trash for his secondary residence. In the dumpster, the officers found a trash bag with used condoms, condom packaging, and small cards explaining how to use condoms in multiple languages.

For the next three months, the police watched the three locations, watching the defendant deliver groceries, and many men entering the buildings and leaving after several hours. The police interviewed several of the men after they left the apartments and the men admitted that they had gone to the apartments in response to advertisements knowing that sexual services were being offered. Officers obtained and simultaneously executed a warrant to search the five locations. At each location, condoms, ledgers, and other evidence were discovered on site. The defendant was charged and convicted of various charges stemming from operating brothels.

Continue reading

The collective knowledge doctrine is a legal theory used in the state to give law enforcement officers expanded opportunities to legally perform a search on a criminal suspect without a warrant. Generally, the doctrine has allowed police and prosecutors to successfully argue that any single police officer involved in an investigation or pursuit is entitled to perform a warrantless search or arrest if any other officer involved in the investigation, or a combination of them, had sufficient knowledge to justify the apparent constitutional violation. This doctrine has been applied in the state even under circumstances where the officer performing the warrantless intrusion had not communicated with any other officers about what they knew.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court recently addressed an appeal challenging the application of this doctrine in light of state constitutional protections afforded by Article 14 of the Massachusetts Constitution. The defendant from the recently decided case was searched and arrested on suspicion of armed robbery after reports came in of a suspect that allegedly matched the description of the suspect, who police had encountered on the street. The search of the defendant revealed cash and a gun, and the victim of the crime later identified the defendant as the perpetrator of the robbery.

At the defendant’s trial, his counsel moved to suppress the evidence found in the search, arguing that the officer who performed the search did not have reasonable suspicion that the defendant was actually the suspect. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, ruling that under the collective knowledge doctrine, the arresting officer could be imputed with all of the cumulative knowledge of any law enforcement personnel involved in the investigation, and with that knowledge, reasonable suspicion could be demonstrated. The defendant was ultimately convicted of the crimes he was charged with, and sentenced to a prison term.

Crimes involving operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, together referred to as OUI offenses, are some of the most commonly charged offenses in the state of Massachusetts. OUI crimes are unique, as the evidence required to convict a defendant (blood alcohol or drug concentration) is often in the defendant’s body, and it may diminish over time. Because of this, law enforcement officers usually want to obtain a blood or breath sample from a suspected OUI offender as soon as possible after making a stop. Without a warrant, police are not permitted to force a defendant to give a blood or breath sample. Successful OUI prosecutions often rely on blood or breath samples that are consensually given to the police by a suspect.

Refusal to submit to a breath or blood test during a suspected OUI detention does not necessarily mean that a defendant will be let off the hook for a charge without consequences, although thousands of defendants in the state have had charges reduced or dismissed as a result of their refusal to submit to a test. The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently heard an appeal that was brought by a defendant who failed to submit to a breath test but was convicted nonetheless.

The defendant in the recently decided appeal was suspected of OUI after officers stopped to investigate an accident that he was involved in. The responding officers testified that the defendant appeared intoxicated and smelled like alcohol while he was being questioned. The defendant consented to perform field sobriety tests, which he failed, and he was arrested and charged with OUI. A breathalyzer test was never given to the defendant, and the prosecutors used other evidence of his intoxication to make their case at trial. During deliberations, the jury asked the court why there was no breathalyzer test performed, and the court instructed them that the lack of such a test should not sway their decision either way. The jury ultimately convicted the defendant of OUI, leading to the appeal.

Domestic violence crimes are commonly charged in Massachusetts, and their prosecution often relies on the testimony of an alleged crime victim. It is more common in domestic violence cases for a victim to change their story as the case progresses. Victims regularly will recant the accusations made against their domestic partner in an effort to prevent the prosecution from going forward. State prosecutors are familiar with this pattern and work to secure enough evidence to support a conviction, even if the victim stops cooperating before a trial. A man recently convicted of domestic violence offenses appealed his conviction, arguing that the inconsistent testimony by the victim did not support the verdict.

The defendant in the recently decided case married the victim in 2009, and the parties were divorced in 2017. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the victim routinely suffered both physical and sexual abuse by the defendant throughout their relationship, and such abuse was sporadically and partially reported to authorities. Prior to 2015, the victim would make reports about the alleged abuse by the defendant but would then later recant her testimony, even submitting affidavits (drafted by the defendant or his attorney) requesting that the charges be dropped. In 2015, after the victim reported particularly serious injuries caused by the defendant, the current charges were brought.

The defendant stood trial on several charges, including aggravated assault, rape, sexual assault, and witness intimidation. After a trial in which the victim testified, he was convicted of several charges, while he was acquitted of other charges. The defendant appealed his convictions to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction and that his trial counsel was ineffective. The defendant specifically argued that his attorney should have made several objections to evidence, jury instructions, and the prosecutor’s closing argument at trial. The appellate court found that the defendant’s contentions had some merit; however, the court ultimately affirmed his convictions as the evidence was substantial and any mistakes by his trial attorney were not serious enough to change the outcome of the trial. As a result of the appellate decision, the defendant will be required to serve his sentence.

In a recent case before an appeals court in Massachusetts, the defendant asked the court to reconsider his convictions of unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, and improper storage of a firearm. Originally, the defendant was criminally charged after two police officers found a loaded firearm in his car; he was found guilty after a jury weighed the evidence at trial. On appeal, the defendant argued that the jury should not have heard about other crimes he had committed in the past, since it unnecessarily biased them in their decision-making process. Considering the evidence, the court of appeals disagreed and affirmed the guilty verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, two State troopers approached the defendant one afternoon when he was standing outside of a car, looking at the front bumper and making sure everything was working properly. The troopers had received a report that the car’s license plate was registered to another car and that the registration had been revoked because the owner had no insurance. For these reasons, the troopers pulled over and approached the defendant.

As they approached, the troopers noticed a firearm sitting between the driver’s seat and the center console. The defendant immediately admitted that he did not have a license to carry the firearm, and officers took him to the station for questioning.

Continue reading

  • In a recent Massachusetts appellate court opinion regarding a motion to suppress evidence from an illegal search, the court upheld the trial court granting of the defendant’s motion to suppress, albeit on different grounds. At trial, the judge allowed the motion on the ground that the driver of the vehicle did not commit a traffic violation warranting the stop. The appeals court instead found that the search of the defendant’s wallet was unlawful, and the evidence obtained therefrom was correctly suppressed. The defendant’s ensuing statements and the drugs recovered from his person were fruits of the unlawful search and, as such, were also correctly suppressed.

Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, in the late afternoon of November 20, 2020, members of the State Police gang unit were patrolling downtown Brockton in an unmarked cruiser. The troopers took note of a car parked at a gas station and, after running the license plate, learned it was a rental vehicle. The troopers then decided to follow the car. After following the car for a period of time, the officers activated their emergency lights and stopped the car, purportedly for failure to stop at a red light. Upon approaching the passenger side of the car, the troopers recognized the front seat passenger as the defendant, based on an intelligence bulletin they had received from the Brockton Police Department.

Seeing that the defendant was not wearing his seat belt, the troopers asked him for identification and spotted a large pocketknife in his pocket when he reached for his wallet. They then ordered the defendant out of the car. The officers handcuffed him and conducted a pat frisk, which revealed no weapons. When they again asked the defendant for identification, he stated that it was in his wallet, which he had left on the passenger seat of the car. When an officer retrieved the wallet, he noticed a folded twenty-dollar bill tucked in one of the card slots. Based on his training and experience, he guessed that the bill was used to hide narcotics. The officer then unfolded the bill and found a white powdery substance and asked the defendant if it was fentanyl, to which the defendant replied that it was “coke” or “powder.” The officer then told the defendant that if he voluntarily turned over any more drugs that the troopers would summons him instead of arrest him. The defendant relinquished additional bags of cocaine from his body.

Continue reading

In a recent case before an appeals court in Massachusetts, the defendant argued his motion to suppress incriminating evidence should have been granted by the lower court. According to the defendant, the officer that found a firearm on his person unlawfully searched him, and thus the evidence should not have been considered admissible by the trial court. On appeal, the higher court looked at the case law and ultimately determined that the officer was within his rights when he conducted the search, and that thus the firearm was admissible after all.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, police officers were executing a valid search warrant at the home of the defendant’s brother-in-law one evening in September 2018. The officers were investigating the brother-in-law for possession of illegal drugs and firearms, and they did not realize that the defendant also lived at the residence as they conducted their search. The brother-in-law was present for the officers searched his home, and he willingly cooperated throughout the process.

Midway through the officers’ search, the defendant opened the locked front door and walked into the home. One of the officers immediately approached the defendant and grabbed his wrists, afraid that he would be a threat to the rest of the search. While the officer was putting the defendant in handcuffs, he felt an object around the defendant’s waistband and found a firearm.

Continue reading

The evolving methods of digital communication that Massachusetts residents are using in all aspects of their lives present challenges to lawmakers who want to ensure that state laws criminalize digital harassment and intimidation, as well as the distribution of pornographic materials. Dating in the digital age often includes electronic communications, “sexting,” and the exchange of intimate photos and videos among dating partners and others. While creating and sharing intimate photos and videos is a legally protected and acceptable practice among consenting adults, the rise of “revenge porn” presents a challenge to lawmakers.

Revenge porn includes the distribution by one party of intimate pictures, videos, and other communications which include the other party without their consent. Commonly, revenge porn distribution becomes an issue after a couple has broken up, when a party possessing intimate or embarrassing files involving the other party releases (or threatens to release) the material in an effort to hurt their former partner, or even to coerce them into taking some action.

Forty-eight states in the U.S. have laws on the books specifically criminalizing revenge porn. Massachusetts and South Carolina do not have such laws. Former Governor Charlie Baker made it a priority for the Massachusetts legislature to outlaw revenge porn in the previous legislative session, and the Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed such a bill in May of last year. The State Senate, however, was unable to pass a bill to get to the governor’s desk before the session closed last month.

Earlier this month, an appeals court in Massachusetts considered whether a defendant in an assault case should be entitled to a new trial. Originally, the defendant was charged with and convicted of assault and battery on a person over the age of fourteen. Once the defendant appealed, the higher court reconsidered the conviction and decided that the defendant was eligible for a new trial.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant first threatened and then physically harmed the victim in this case in April 2016. The day after the assault occurred, the victim recounted what happened to her friend. Two months later, she decided to report the assault to a detective. The detective investigated the incident, found the defendant, and eventually arrested him on charges of assault and battery.

The case went to trial, and a jury found the defendant guilty as charged. Promptly, the defendant appealed his conviction, asking the higher court to grant him a new trial.

Continue reading

In a recent case involving assault and battery by a dangerous weapon, the defendant appealed his guilty conviction before the Appeals Court of Massachusetts. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial judge allowed impermissible testimony from police officers to be submitted at trial, and this testimony made the jury unfairly biased against him. Looking at the record of the case, the higher court ultimately denied the defendant’s appeal and affirmed the original conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was arrested with one other individual in an alleyway behind a local gym. Apparently, the defendant pulled out a knife while he and the second individual were threatening a third person. The defendant cut the victim’s face, and the victim sustained minor injuries from the incident. Soon after the assault, a police officer came to the scene to arrest both the defendant and the second individual.

The defendant was charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. His case went to trial, where a jury found him guilty as charged. Promptly after the verdict, the defendant appealed.

Continue reading

Contact Information