Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Responding to False Accusations of Domestic Violence

A Massachusetts superior judge was recently arrested for grabbing her wife by the hair and yanking her head back during an argument. The Judge, who resides in Worcester Superior Court, was arraigned in Marlborough District Court on a charge of domestic assault and battery. Police reports and records reveal that the judge argued law enforcement should let her go because she is a judge. The victim of the accident informed law enforcement that the judge had pulled her hair. 

The 21st century has seen the advancement of women’s rights, but unfortunately, not everyone reasonably uses domestic violence laws. Instead, there are cases of people using domestic violence laws to advance a settlement. In other cases, vindictive former lovers falsely accuse partners of domestic violence as a means of seeking revenge. This is because being convicted of domestic violence can result in complications that you face for the rest of your life. Some of the challenges that can result from these complications are a destroyed social reputation and loss of custody rights. This is why it is important to remain proactive and to take some helpful steps to reduce the risk of facing domestic violence allegations. 

Understand What Constitutes Domestic Violence

One of the best steps to take in preventing domestic violence is to understand the various actions this category includes. Typically, domestic violence is divided into three categories — economic abuse, psychological violence, and sexual violence. While many people are familiar with hitting someone and rape as a type of domestic violence, there are many other ways domestic violence can occur including stalking, threatening to ruin a partner’s reputation or other types of harassing behavior. 

Avoid Fights

Whenever possible, avoid getting into a fight with the other person. This means not yelling or saying derogatory things. If you do end up in a heated argument, do whatever you can to diffuse the disagreement. 

Get Witnesses

Many domestic violence cases resort to he said/she said disagreement. As a result, it is a wise idea to have witnesses who can make statements supporting your character. Slightly related to this is to always make sure to speak the truth around others. 

Anticipate Possible Disagreements

If you believe that a person wants to falsely accuse you of domestic violence as a means of seeking revenge, it is a wise idea to anticipate these arguments. If you believe that a partner would act in this way, you should anticipate these arguments and begin collecting evidence that can be used to support your case.

Speak with a Domestic Violence Lawyer

If you face any type of domestic violence charge, you should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of a family law attorney who has substantial experience helping people respond to these charges. Attorney Edward R Molari will review the facts of your case and help you create the strongest legal strategy possible. Contact our law office today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

Massachusetts Court to Consider Warrantless License Plate Tracking

The highest court in Massachusetts is poised to consider a case that has the potential to change how law enforcement can use data gathered by automated license plate readers. The central question in the case of Commonwealth v. Jason McCarthy is whether law enforcement must obtain a court order or search warrant to use the information provided by automated license plate readers, which automatically scan the license plates of passing vehicles. 

How the Facts of the Case Arose

Brian McCarthy and Brian Whittemore were arrested on drug-related charges. The arrest occurred while law enforcement was investigating Whittemore for drug dealing and spotted McCarthy’s mother’s vehicle at Whittemore’s house. Using automated license plate readers, law enforcement tracked McCarthy’s vehicle. The police later followed McCarthy and observed what they determined to be a drug deal. Later, law enforcement seized money McCarthy used to pay bail on the basis that it was believed to be drug money. 

Arguments Presented by Both Sides

McCarthy’s case involves the argument that law enforcement violated his privacy rights through the use of license plate readers. Because his privacy rights were invaded, McCarthy argues that all seized evidence should be suppressed. Lawyers on behalf of McCarthy state that he has a right to be left free from government surveillance to this degree without the oversight of a judge.

On the opposite side of this argument is the prosecution, who argues that someone driving on a public roadway does not have an expectation of privacy. Because McCarthy had no expectation of privacy, law enforcement argues that his rights were not invaded by this search. 

The Role of License Plate Readers in Massachusetts

Since 2014, license plate readers have been used by law enforcement in Massachusetts. While law enforcement has grown to depend heavily on these searches, they have also been met with opposition by some parties. 

In response, the ACLU has been requesting that the Commonwealth create limits regarding how these devices can be used as well as how data gathered from this equipment is stored and accessed. The ACLU and other organizations have even proposed a bill that would limit the amount of time law enforcement has to store data gathered from license plate readers. Massachusetts legislatures have also considered measures of this type, but they have never been passed. Law enforcement, however, has commented that these regulations would interfere with their ability to investigate crimes. In response, the ACLU has argued that there should still be controls on these searches because otherwise, law enforcement would be able to obtain potentially invasive details about individuals including their marital fidelity and religious observances. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

There are several ways in which law enforcement in Massachusetts can gather details about a person. Fortunately, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help respond to these charges. If you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, do not hesitate to contact attorney Edward R. Molari today.

 

Understanding Massachusetts Animal Cruelty Charges

A man in Massachusetts was recently arrested after attempting to harm animals through the use of peanut butter baits that contained razor blades. Law enforcement arrested the man after receiving a tip-off about the man’s activity. During initial surveillance, officers from the Marine and Environmental Services reported that they had spotted the man baiting the tree and watching as animals were lured to his trap inside Falmouth’s Goodwill Park. 

It remains uncertain when the man began trapping or how often he did it. As a result of this activity, the man is now charged with animal cruelty, reckless behavior creating a risk of serious bodily injury, and injuries to trees. According to Massachusetts Law Enforcement, the man has since been released on bail after his weekend arrest. In addition to facing criminal penalties, the public also expressed disgust for the behavior after several photos of the man were posted online. 

In 2014, animal abuse laws in Massachusetts were greatly expanded. The Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS) increased punishments for existing animal abuse crimes as well as created a mandatory requirement for veterinarians to report abuse. Currently, the PAWS act states that the punishment for animal abuse ranges from five to seven years in prison as well as fines of $5,000. This article reviews some other important details about animal abuse charges that you should know. 

Animal Abuse in Massachusetts is a Felony

Under current Massachusetts laws, animal cruelty is classified as a felony. Fortunately, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can sometimes help reduce these charges to misdemeanors. A person has a great chance of receiving a charge less than a felony if either they have a strong defense or the prosecution has weak grounds on which to base a conviction. 

Types of Animal Abuse Massachusetts Recognizes

There are several types of animal abuse recognized in Massachusetts, which include:

  • Animal abandonment. This category applies when a person leaves a pet behind after moving or refuse to let an animal return into a home.

  • Animal cruelty. This category comprises things like intentional torture as well as physical violence.

  • Animal neglect. This category includes things like not providing an animal with sufficient food or water.

  • Extreme heat. An individual who has custody of an animal cannot leave it in their vehicle during extreme weather conditions that would endanger the animal’s health. 

If a person is convicted of animal cruelty in Massachusetts, the individual can end up facing serious penalties. The exact consequences that a person faces depends on whether the offense was a first time or subsequent offense. 

Penalties break down in the following manner:

  • First offense. This penalty can result in up to seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. 

  • Second and subsequent offenses offense. Individuals convicted of this offense can end up facing 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000. 

In addition to these penalties, an individual will also forfeit any rights to ever work with or around animals in Massachusetts. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Given the serious consequences that can result from a conviction for animal cruelty, it can help to speak with an experienced Massachusetts criminal lawyer. Experienced criminal defense lawyer Edward R. Molari can help respond to these charges. Contact attorney Molari’s office today to schedule an initial free consultation. 

How to Defend Against Massachusetts Machine Gun Charges

Law enforcement in Lynn recently arrested two men for possession of a machine gun after stopping the motorists for a vehicle violation. The two men were subsequently charged with possession of a machine gun, possession of a large capacity weapon, and possession of a firearm and ammunition without a permit.  

While law enforcement was taking the two men into custody, an officer found a MasterPiece Arms 9 mm pistol as well as a 30-round magazine. The men were then released on a $1,000 bail.

Massachusetts Law Addressing Machine Guns

Massachusetts law prohibits the possession of a machine gun, except for specific exemptions that are created by law including the use of machine guns by some members of law enforcement. State code defines a machine gun as any loaded or unloaded weapon that is capable of automatically or rapidly discharging shots by one activation of the trigger.

The Penalties Associated with the Use of a Machine Gun

The state of Massachusetts takes offenses involving machine guns particularly serious. Possession of a machine gun can result in a person facing between 18 months up to a maximum of life in prison. The reason why the commonwealth takes machine gun offenses so seriously is that the weapons are frequently used in the commission of very violent offenses. 

Arguing that Prosecution Failed to Satisfy All Elements of an Offense

There are certain elements that must be satisfied to justify a conviction involving a submachine gun. For one, the firearm must meet the court’s definition of a machine gun. Consequently, some people who are charged with this offense end up retaining the assistance of a ballistics experts who can argue that the involved item does not satisfy the court’s definition of a machine gun.  

Other Defenses That can be Raised in Response to Machine Gun Charges

Some of the other defenses that can be raised in response to a charge of machine gun possession include the following: 

  • If a machine gun was seized as the result of an unlawful search by law enforcement, it is possible to file a motion to suppress evidence. This is because the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects an individual against unreasonable searches and seizures.

  • Most machine gun charges involve establishing that the firearm was in a person’s “possession,” which can be a difficult element of an offense to prove. A skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to review the facts of your case and help create a strong argument that you were not in possession of a firearm.

  • Prosecution also must establish that a person knowingly possessed a machine gun. It can be difficult to meet this element of an offense. Without establishing that a person knew of a machine gun’s presence, however, prosecution will not be able to convict a person. 

Speak With an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorney Edward Molari has substantial experience helping people in Massachusetts defend against a number of different types of charges including those related to machine guns. 

If you are facing a weapons charge, it is important to understand that the resulting penalties could create a number of challenges that you end up facing for the rest of your life. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Responding to Charges of Criminal Trespass

 

A Massachusetts law enforcement officer was recently stripped of his gun and placed on restricted duty after the office was arrested at an Iron Maiden concert at the Xfinity Center for trespassing.  

The arrest occurred after a parking attendant informed Mansfield law enforcement that an argument was developing between two parties in the parking lot of the concert. Law enforcement later observed the officer having an argument with a woman. According to law enforcement, the man initially ignored instructions and refused to present identification. Instead, the man continued yelling at the woman. 

Trespassing might seem like a minor criminal offense, but it can result in some undesirable consequences that last for years to come. For example, details regarding a criminal conviction will appear on a person’s criminal history, which can lead to a number of challenges in pursuing a career, housing, or an education. 

Fortunately, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you create a strong legal strategy to defend against these charges. 

Penalties Associated with Trespassing

There are several penalties that a person in Massachusetts can receive as a result of a trespassing conviction. For example, a person convicted of trespass can face a maximum of 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $100. 

While these penalties might not seem as serious as other criminal offenses, they will still result in a person being viewed as having a criminal record. Fortunately, there are a number of defenses that can be raised in response to these charges.

Trespassing Defense Strategies

There are a number of defense strategies we can use to successfully beat trespassing charges. There is almost always more to the story then a person accidentally and without permission wandering onto public or private property. 

Instead, most people in Massachusetts are not charged with criminal trespass unless they trespass in a deliberate manner. One common defense is arguing that prosecution has failed to satisfy all of the elements of a criminal offense. 

Massachusetts law states that trespass occurs when a person without right enters or remains in an area after having been forbidden to do so by the individual who has lawful control of the property. This means that if prosecution is able to establish that a person was permitted to enter an area, it will not be possible to justify a trespass conviction. 

If a person receives a criminal citation, a lawyer can review the details of the case and sometimes even dismiss the charges at a hearing. If a person has already been arrested or other charges are involved, this can make matters much more complicated. Even in these situations, however, it is often still possible to avoid a conviction. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with trespass might seem minor, but it can lead to a number of unanticipated and undesirable obstacles. If you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, do not hesitate to contact attorney Edward R. Molari

 

Strategies to Defend Against Drug Possession Charges

 

Law enforcement in Monson recently arrested a woman who described as a “habitual heroin dealer” after she was accused of selling drugs to two people. 

Consequently, the woman was charged with two counts of distribution of heroin as well as conspiracy to violate drug laws. Following the arrest, law enforcement also seized 39 bags of what is believed to be heroin as well as $180 in cash. Bail was set at $25,000 and the woman is currently being held in a Massachusetts correctional center. 

If you have been charged with possession of an illegal drug in Massachusetts, you have several options to proceed. There are a number of defenses that can be raised in response to drug charges. The following will review some of the most common tactics used to defend against drug possession charges.

Failure to Satisfy the Elements of an Offense

One of the most common strategies used to defend against a possession charge is to establish that law enforcement has failed to establish each element of an offense. For example, prosecution must establish that you actually possessed the illegal substance to justify a conviction. 

In addition to arguing that a person did not actually possess an illegal substance, it might also be possible to claim that, based on its chemical composition, a substance was not illegal to possess.

Constitutional Defenses to Drug Possession Charges

The United States Supreme Court case of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts made it much more difficult to establish the necessary elements for a drug possession charge. 

In this case, the United States Supreme Court held that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts could not rely on affidavits from a chemist claiming that a substance is an illegal narcotic. Instead, the Supreme Court held that the Commonwealth would be required to call the chemist as a witness concerning the substance’s nature. 

To avoid this requirement, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sometimes attempts to use law enforcement officers to testify to a substance’s illegal nature. 

Avoiding Penalties Associated with Drug Possession Charges

With drug offenses, a skilled defense attorney can often help a person resolve the matter in a way that avoid a criminal conviction. Some of the options that a person might have include the following:

  • CWOF. These involve an admission that a person committed a drug offense, but that the offense will not result in a criminal conviction or loss of a professional license. This is often not the most preferable way to resolve a case.

  • Guilty pleas with probation. If a person has a criminal record, this option can sometimes be the most attractive. 

  • Pretrial probation. In some situations involving drug offense, the district attorney might agree to dismiss a case provided that certain conditions are satisfied. Pretrial probation is advantageous because it does not involve any admission of criminal activity. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have questions or concerns about the best tactic to defend against a drug charge, one of the best steps that you can take is to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

 

Straight Pride Counterprotestors Litigation

Last weekend Boston hosted the straight pride parade.  It was not recieved well. That appears to be the point.  As was the case with past demonstrations of nationalist animosity, the straight pride parade drew substantially more counterprotestors than it did participants.  Some of these counterprotestors were arrested for various offenses, and arraigned in the Central Municipal Court on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Two of the judges in the Central Municipal Court took steps during the arriagnments of the counterprotestors that call into question the limits of the judicial power.  In one example, Judge Horgan ordered the counterprotestors to stay out of the city of Boston while their cases were pending.  So-called "stay-away" orders are common where the alleged crime is related to a particular location.  In Boston, in particular, orders to remain out of the city entirely are more common than in any other metro-area in Massachusetts.  In this case, where the Court's order is to remain out of the entire city of Boston for reasons that have almost nothing to do with the city itself, the order seems pretty clearly overbroad and unconstitutional.  Since at least some of the people who are subject to the order were presumably engaged in deliberate civil disobedience, it would seem like an opportune time for someone to file an interlocutory appeal of the Court's order.  After all, picking fights and taking names is kind of the point of civil disobedience, and it is long since time call attention to, and hopefully end, the practice of banishing people from the city while their cases are pending. 

In another example, Judge Sinnot refused to accept the request of prosecutors in Rachael Rollins' office to dismiss certain charges prior to arraignment.  Rollins was recently elected with a notorioius policy of declining to prosecute certain kinds of cases, including cases in which someone is charged with only resistig arrest (the point being that an arrest should be premised on an actual crime before it becomes a crime to resist it).  In this case, prosecutors moved to dismiss certain cases but the judge refused to allow their motion to dismiss.  Former federal judge Nancy Gertner called the refusal to grant the Commonwealth's request "lawless."

It is hard to find accurate information on what exactly happened, but certain reports suggested that prosecutors had moved to dismiss the cases upon the completion of community service. Other reports suggested that Rollins' peitiotn to the SJC alleged that the judges refused to accept something called a nolle pros.  It seems that some of the confusion over these cases depends on the difference between the two.  A dismissal is an act of the Court. It can be conditional or unconditional, but when the prosecutor moves to "dismiss" a case they are asking the Court to invoke its authority to order charges dismissed. A "nolle pros" (latin) is different because it is not an act of the Court. A "nolle pros" is an act of the prosecutor, which has the effect of unilaterally terminating the prosecution.  Filing a nolle pros might be less desireable for a prosecutor because it cannot be conditioned on any terms that are enforceable by the court. 

Two rock-solid propositions: First, a judge definitely has the discretion to refuse to dismiss a case, even where that request is made by the prosecution.  Second, a judge also has absolutely no authority to refuse to accept a nolle pros.  The trick here may be that a third rock-solid proposition is that the court never has to explain to a party that its action is based on the way the party phrased its motion.  It may simply be that the prosecutor in the room used the words "move to dismiss" when they should have moved to "nolle pros."

Can Law Enforcement Pull You Over for No Reason?

Law enforcement officers in Brockton were recently driving behind a vehicle when they suspected that the car windows were tinted darker than what was allowed by law. They also noticed that the vehicle lacked a front license plate. Law enforcement then became suspicious due to the driver’s peculiar movement. 

This resulted in the driver being arrested after a loaded and stolen firearm was discovered under one of the vehicle’s car seats. The driver was subsequently charged with possession of a firearm without an FID card, possession of ammunition without an FID card, improper storage of a firearm, carrying a loaded firearm, receiving stolen property over $1,200, having a window obstructed, and a license plate violation. 

A law enforcement officer’s decision to pull you over represents a detention. While you are not free to leave, you also have not been arrested. To perform this type of detention, law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion that you were committing a violation. 

In the case above, the violation that amounted to reasonable suspicion was that the driver’s car had windows that were tinted to an illegal degree. The purpose of requiring reasonable suspicion to stop a motorist is that this prevents law enforcement from stopping a person on a whim. 

How the Supreme Court Influenced this Area of Law

In the case of Delaware v. Prouse, the Supreme Court considered the arguments of a man prosecuted for marijuana possession. During a traffic stop, law enforcement spotted marijuana on the floor of the man’s vehicle. Law enforcement argued that defendant had not been seen committing any traffic violations. There were also not any equipment violations involving defendant’s vehicle. 

Instead, law enforcement had only made the stop to examine the driver’s license as well as to inspect the vehicle’s registration. The Supreme Court consequently held that this type of stop was unconstitutional. 

Be Wary of Evidence Seized During Stops

There are a number of tactics that the Supreme Court of the United States has found are permissible for law enforcement to employ  to obtain evidence against a person. There are also rules that restrict the way in which law enforcement can obtain this evidence. 

For example, the exclusionary rule requires that evidence obtained during an unlawful arrest or detention be excluded from a court of law. The United States Supreme Court, however, has held that law enforcement officers who learn about arrest warrants only after having made a stop can use this knowledge to justify an illegal detention. 

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Being suddenly stopped by law enforcement can be frightening, particularly when you were in the commission of a criminal offense or have something illegal on you. During these times, however, it is important to remember that you have rights. It is also important to remember that law enforcement must follow restrictions regarding how evidence must be handled. 

If you have been arrested following a vehicle stop, contact criminal defense attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free initial consultation. 

 

Law Enforcement Arrests 16 Individuals on “Methadone Mile”

Law enforcement recently made arrests around the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Southampton Street, which is a part of the area referred to as “Methadone Mile.” These arrests are part of Boston law enforcement’s efforts to make the neighborhood safer following an attack in which a correction officer was beaten with a metal pipe. In total, 16 people were arrested. Seven individuals who were arrested have arrest warrants for missing court appearances in criminal trials, while six others were arrested for new drug offenses. Four other individuals were picked up on straight warrants and have not yet gone to court. 

There a number of reasons why people miss court appearances. Some people are just perpetually late. Other people have a tendency to get lost on the way to court. Some people think that court actually begins at a different time. There are other people who have personal matters like those involving children spring up suddenly and interrupt a planned court appearance. No matter the reason why you have missed a court appearance, it is important to know how to respond if you miss an appearance. 

Contact Your Attorney Immediately After Missing a Court Appearance

Once you realize that you missed your court appearance, the best step that you can take is to contact your criminal defense attorney. Many times, your lawyer will instruct you to go back to court as soon as possible to inform the judge about your reasons for missing your appearance. 

If you appear in court to explain yourself with a lawyer, you might be able to avoid the most serious penalties. For one, your lawyer will likely be able to better justify why you missed court. In some situations, you attorney might also be able to contact the district attorney to explain the situation. 

Understand the Judge’s Perspective

Judges do not like to see people imprisoned or sentenced to large fines. Instead, many judges would rather help individuals rehabilitate and successfully navigate the criminal justice system. Many judges understand that humans sometimes make mistakes and will accommodate you if you had difficulty getting to court or forgot about your appearance. 

Avoid Bad Excuses and Blaming Others

It is critical to avoid non-excuses or explanations that a judge is not likely to believe. For example, you should never blame your court appearance on the fault of your attorney unless you have a very good excuse. These excuses will not work, particularly if they are not supported by your lawyer or the opposing side. 

The judge similarly does not want to hear you blame someone else for your mistake of not making a court appearance. Instead, it is best to own up to your mistake and only provide an excuse if you have a legitimate one. 

Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney

One of the best ways to respond if you have missed a court appearance is to immediately obtain help. If you need the assistance of an experienced criminal lawyer, do not hesitate to contact attorney Edward R. Molari.

 

What You Should and Should Not do While Being Arrested

A fugitive on Massachusetts’ Most Wanted List was recently arrested in Arizona. The suspect is wanted in multiple sexual assaults against a child younger than 10 over an extended period of time. The arrest occurred at an abandoned house. Massachusetts law enforcement first obtained a warrant for the man’s arrest in 2013, but he fled after learning about the investigation. The man was subsequently added to Massachusetts’ Most Wanted List. Fortunately, the suspect was taken into custody without incident. 

One of the most important things to do if you have been arrested is to remember that you have the right to remain silent. You also have the right to an attorney. You should refrain from doing things that could only make your case worse, like fleeing. The following will discuss some of the other important information that you should know in case you are arrested. 

Understand What Constitutes an Arrest

A person is considered to be arrested when law enforcement takes that individual into custody. Custody is determined to have occurred when a person does not feel free to leave. Although many people who are arrested are taken to jail, the arrest actually often begins at a much earlier point in time. 

Law enforcement is only able to arrest an individual if the officer witnesses the individual commit the crime, the officer has probable cause to believe that the person committed a crime, or a judge has issued an arrest warrant supported by probable cause.

Avoid Using Force 

In most arrest situations, a person does not have the right to resist an arrest, even if the arrest is illegal in nature. An individual who uses force can be charged with resisting arrest, battery on an officer, or even worse offenses. That individual can face serious injuries, as well. 

If you are arrested without probable cause, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you pursue these matters in court.

Do Not be Afraid to Invoke Your Rights

During an arrest, it is important to remember your Constitutional rights. For one, you have the right to remain silent. You also have the right to speak with an attorney. After asserting your rights, you should then remain quiet. By continuing to talk to law enforcement, you risk saying something that could incriminate you and eventually be used against you in a court of law. 

While you should tell law enforcement your name or contact details, if asked, you should refrain from sharing any other type of information. You should be similarly cautious about talking with other prison inmates, who might disclose confidential information. 

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Being arrested is a frightening experience. If you have questions or concerns about what you should do following or if you anticipate that you are about to be arrested, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced attorney. 

Contact criminal defense attorney Edward R. Molari immediately to obtain the assistance you need.

 

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