Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Can a Fired Police Officer Give Reliable Testimony in a Criminal Case?

Many criminal cases in Massachusetts hinge on the testimony of police officers, but what happens when these officers are terminated or no longer employed by their department? If their testimony is necessary for prosecution, the criminal case becomes impossible to prosecute. We have seen many examples of these situations in Massachusetts over the past few years and months.  

The Massachusetts POST Commission Explained

According to the Massachusetts government, the POST Commission was created to “improve policing and enhance public confidence in law enforcement.” The commission aims to accomplish this goal by overseeing stricter regulations in terms of mandatory certification, discipline, and training for all peace officers within the Commonwealth. The acronym stands for “Peace Officer Standards and Training.”

The commission regularly releases statements and public records regarding disciplinary records. The most recent of these statements was released in September of 2023. The POST Commission’s web page allows users to:

  • View disciplinary records
  • View the statute of each peace officer
  • View decisions and orders
  • File police misconduct complaints
  • Learn about the adjudicatory process
  • Read the commission’s annual reports

What Effect Does the POST Commission Have on an Officer’s Ability to Testify?

The POST Commission can decertify police officers. In doing so, this may prevent officers from testifying in court due to the loss of their official positions. For example, the POST Commission decertified five officers in October of 2023 after they were convicted of felonies. These charges included issuing fake tickets to civilians, child exploitation, filing false reports, and others. 

In September 2016, it was confirmed that officers at the Braintree Police Department had been removing drugs, weapons, and cash from the evidence room. One officer committed suicide after their alleged involvement became clear, and numerous cases had to be dismissed as a result of the evidence going missing. Judges considered whether to vacate thousands of convictions related to the now-unreliable evidence from the Braintree Department. 

In June of 2023, a former Fall River police officer was sentenced to 18 months after a jury convicted him of beating a man and filing false reports. The fact that he has been convicted of filing one false report throws doubt upon all of his prior reports as well – and his criminal charges may, in fact, lead to more lenient sentences for defendants who were previously arrested by this fired officer. 

Where Can I Find a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney in Massachusetts?

If you have been searching for a criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts, look no further than Edward R. Molari. A terminated police officer who cannot provide testimony is just one example of a potential situation that may work in a defendant’s favor. To learn more about defense strategies that may apply to your specific situations, book a consultation today.