Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Court Lowers Standard of Proof for Sealing Criminal Records

Many people, perhaps more than you think, have criminal records of some sort. Whether the record concerns a college indiscretion involving too much alcohol or an arrest resulting from participation in a political protest, the existence of a criminal record can pose significant challenges. These challenges are often referred to as “collateral consequences,” and can include the following kinds of issues:

· Difficulty obtaining certain types of employment;

· Denial or loss of a professional license;

· Denial of admission to academic programs;

· Harsher sentencing in future cases;

· Damage to your reputation in the community.

Courts recognize the need to balance the public’s right to access information about what occurs in open court against an individual’s right to privacy. The privacy right is particularly salient when people are arrested but never convicted of a crime. This may occur in a situation where a prosecutor determines a case is not worth pursuing or extenuating circumstances justified a defendant’s behavior. In other cases, a defendant may enter into a diversionary program where they must comply with certain conditions in return for the prosecutor dropping the case against them. The latter example often occurs with a first-time “operating while intoxicated” (OUI) offender, who are frequently offered plea deals whereby they must surrender their licenses and complete rehabilitative programs. If an offender successfully complete the program, the OUI case against them is dropped.

The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts recently recognized the importance of allowing defendants whose cases are case dismissed to seal their criminal records and avoid any further consequences of that case. The previous standard required a defendant to demonstrate that the value of sealing his or her record outweighs the value of the record staying open and available to society. It also required the defendant to specify the harm he or she would suffer if the record stayed open.

Courts must now examine the following factors when deciding whether to seal a record:

· The disadvantages suffered by the defendant if the record is not sealed;

· Evidence of the defendant’s rehabilitation, or other signs the defendant could overcome the disadvantages once the record is sealed;

· Evidence of the offense that may indicate the defendant’s future success or recidivism;

· The amount of time that passed since the dismissal and the reason for that disposition.

In setting out this new test, the SJC expressly declined to follow the standard set out by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which requires that the defendant show a “compelling interest” to seal a record.

Contact a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney for Help Today

If a criminal charge against you was dismissed, or your case was entered nolle prosequi, and you wish to have your criminal record sealed, contact a knowledgeable Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer for assistance as soon as possible. Attorney Edward R. Molari is highly experienced in the area of criminal defense, and stays up to date on changing standards and laws in Massachusetts. Mr. Molari will help to seal your criminal record and avoid collateral consequences stemming from your arrest. Contact our office today at (617) 942-1532 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Can the Police Compel a Blood Test in a DUI Investigation?

The 4th Amendment purportedly protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement and other people acting as a state actor. While a warrantless search is presumed unreasonable, there have been myriad exceptions established to this principle. Courts are continually reviewing new cases involving questions about whether a particular action constituted a “search” or whether a particular instance of law enforcement investigation falls within an established exception to the warrant requirement.

The law involving the way that drunk drivers are investigated is no exception to this rule, and the jurisprudence regarding cases involving driving under the influence (DUI) has significantly expanded as enforcement efforts have increased over the past few decades. While it is an accepted principle that people have a diminished expectation of privacy in their vehicle, there are still limitations as to what law enforcement can compel a person suspected of drunk driving to do.

Missouri v. McNeely

Recently, the United States Supreme Court was asked to determine whether a police officer could subject a DUI suspect to a forced warrantless blood draw. The case, Missouri v. McNeely, arose out of a Missouri traffic stop in which the arresting officer believed that the suspect, McNeely, was drunk.  After McNeely refused both a Breathalyzer and blood test, the officer directed hospital staff to remove blood from McNeely in order to have it tested.

The Supreme Court has traditionally held that invasions into a person’s body are among the most intrusive, and therefore the most likely to require a warrant. One of the recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement is for “exigent circumstances,” in which waiting to obtain a warrant risks the destruction of evidence. In this case, the state of Missouri argued that the dissipation of alcohol in McNeely’s body as his body metabolized it was akin to the active destruction of evidence, and therefore fell within the exigent circumstances exception. The Supreme Court ultimately disagreed, holding that while there may be circumstances in which a warrantless compelled blood draw may be justified, the mere dissipation of alcohol in a person’s blood stream was not.

“No-Refusal” Enforcement

Because this case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, it is binding on law enforcement in all jurisdictions, Massachusetts included. While this may seem like a victory for the privacy rights of drivers, other states have taken note of the decision and made efforts to be able to compel blood draws from drivers suspected of DUI while complying with the law. In order to achieve this, some jurisdictions have had “no-refusal weekends,” in which they set up DUI checkpoints with personnel prepared to administer on the spot blood tests and have a judge or a magistrate on call or present in order to issue warrants. It is important to remember that all a police officer has to do in order to get a warrant is establish probable cause, which in many cases may be as easy as alleged that a driver is showing certain signs of intoxication.

Contact a Massachusetts DUI/OUI Defense Attorney Today

People accused of Massachusetts OUI can potentially face serious criminal penalties, including fines, the loss of a driver’s license, probation, and even jail time. As a result, anyone facing a OUI case should retain a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Lawyer Edward R. Molari is committed to helping people facing a Massachusetts OUI case bring it to the best outcome possible. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at (617) 942-1532.

Woman, Who Records Her Own Arrest, Charged with Wiretapping

Electronic devices, with their ability to record audio and video, are ubiquitous in our society. As the following case demonstrates, Massachusetts residents need to be wary when recording events around them to ensure that they are not guilty of violating the commonwealth’s wiretapping laws.

The Facts of the Case

The incident in question started early on a recent Sunday morning in Chicopee, MA. A woman was drinking outside of her apartment building on Chestnut street and causing an irritation. A call was placed to the police, who arrived just before 2 A.M. According to the police report, the Chicopee woman was screaming, yelling, and disturbing tenants of her apartment building. When police asked her to stop she refused. When the woman would not calm down police placed her under arrest.

An interesting twist to this incident is what the Chicopee woman did with her smartphone. Before being taken into police custody the woman turned on the voice recorder of her smartphone and placed it in her purse. She left the voice recorder on during her confrontation with police and ended up recording the audio of her arrest. When police booked the woman at the police station and searched her purse they found the smartphone actively recording.

In addition to charging the Chicopee woman with disorderly conduct and having an open container of alcohol, police charged the woman with illegal wiretapping.

The Crime of Wiretapping in Massachusetts

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has some of the most stringent wiretapping laws in the nation. In Massachusetts it is a crime to secretly record a conversation, whether the conversation is in person, over the telephone, or by any other medium. This law is often referred to as a “two-party consent” law, because both parties to a conversation must consent to having the conversation recorded for the act of recording to be legal. Thus, you must inform all parties to a conversation that the conversation is being recorded. If a person does not wish to have themselves recorded, it is up to them to leave the conversation.

This law applies to audio recordings as well as video recordings. In one case, police charged a political activist with violating this wiretapping statute when he secretly captured video of Boston University police during a political protest. Even though the activist recorded the police in a public place, he still faced charges of illegal wiretapping.

Punishment for Wiretapping

Those who are convicted of illegal wiretapping face some steep penalties. Wiretapping is considered a felony in Massachusetts. Defendants charged with the crime of wiretapping may face up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Getting Help When You Face Criminal Charges

If you have been charged with the crime of illegal wiretapping, it is critical the you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, has years of experience successfully helping defendants charged with wiretapping crimes. Mr. Molari can help you understand your rights, provide sound legal advice, prepare you for trial, and defend you in court. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

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SUPREME COURT HOLDS WARRANT REQUIRED FOR DUI/OUI BLOOD DRAW

SJC REQUIRES WARRANT FOR CELL PHONE LOCATION INFORMATION

 

Supreme Judicial Court Issues Important Ruling on the Use of DNA Evidence

In a recent decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, DNA evidence has again entered the spotlight of criminal proceedings and post-trial challenges to convictions. In an opinion released last month, the Court has determined that criminal defendants may retest DNA evidence in order challenge their convictions.

The Role of DNA Testing in Criminal Trials

Increasingly, prosecutors and police investigators rely on DNA evidence to catch catch criminal culprits. Based on a biological sample collected at the scene of a crime--such as a drop of blood or a strand of hair--forensic specialists can examine the DNA and compare it to the DNA of a suspect in the crime. The key to DNA testing is the idea that that no two people share the same DNA. Thus, if law enforcement can match the DNA of a criminal suspect to DNA gathered at the scene of a crime, they have evidence that the criminal suspect was present. For this reason, DNA evidence offers compelling information as to whether a suspect is associated with a crime.

The Role of DNA in Proving Innocence

A growing use of DNA evidence has been to prove the innocence of already convicted criminals. In these cases, criminals were convicted before the wide use of DNA testing based on other evidence of their guilt. By testing biological evidence gathered from the scene of the crime and still in storage today, these convicted criminals have shown that their DNA in fact does not match DNA associated with the crime. In hundreds of cases, this new DNA evidence has led to the release of suspects from prison who were wrongly convicted.

DNA Evidence Only as Good as the Laboratory Techniques Used

Because DNA testing is complicated, the veracity of such evidence depends largely on the laboratory methods employed by forensic experts. If the laboratory is sloppy, or if technicians fail to follow accepted testing practices, such DNA evidence may prove false and unreliable.

Those Relying on DNA Evidence Get a Second Chance

In examining the use of DNA testing, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that defendants in criminal cases may have biological evidence retested in certain circumstances. The reason is that DNA testing methods and techniques have evolved over time to become more and more accurate. Thus, where a person was convicted on DNA evidence gathered by a particular testing technique, that person can subsequently retest the evidence using newer testing techniques in order challenge the reliability of the earlier test.

As Associate Justice Fernande R.F. Duffy wrote, a person’s request for a new test “should not be denied on the ground that the evidence sought to be tested has been subjected previously to a method of testing, if the accuracy of that testing has materially improved the test’s ability to identify the perpetrator of a crime.” In short, those convicted of crimes based on DNA evidence may have an opportunity to re-examine and challenge the evidence against them.

Getting Help When You Face Criminal Charges

If you believe you have been wrongly charged or convicted of a crime based on DNA evidence, it is critical that you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights, provide sound legal advice, prepare you for trial, defend you in court, and help you with post-trial challenges to your conviction. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

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THE BURDEN OF PROOF IN CRIMINAL TRIALS

MASSACHUSETTS COURT OF APPEALS LIMITS DEFENDANT’S RIGHTS

 

Can the Police Search Your Cell Phone When Arresting You?

 

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in two cases involving cell phone privacy. The critical question of law in both instances is under what circumstances the police can search the contents of your phone.

Search Incident to Arrest

In general, the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that law enforcement officials obtain a warrant before searching for evidence of a crime. The Supreme Court, however, has recognized a number of exceptions to this warrant requirement, including a search incident to arrest. This exception allows police to search the person and immediate surroundings of someone being placed under arrest. The rationale behind this exception to the warrant requirement is to prevent the last-minute destruction of evidence, as well as to protect police officers from the use of hidden weapons.

The Ubiquitous Cell Phone

For most people, a search of their person would turn up a cell phone. Cell phones may contain large amounts of personal information. For example, cell phones may include contact lists, call history, and the contents of text messages and emails sent and received by the caller. Smart phones, with their plethora of apps, may also include such information as GPS data that tracks the movements of the person, photographs, financial transactions, social media postings, and the like.

The key question is whether the police should have access to such large amounts of information merely upon an arrest. Many argue that, given the variety and quantity of private information contained in people's cell phones, the police should have to acquire a warrant before searching such devices. They point out that in many cases, when a person is arrested, their cell phone may be seized and held until a warrant is obtained. People on the other side of the argument, including many law enforcement officers, point out that cell phones may include valuable evidence of a crime, evidence that may be erased by the time a warrant is obtained.

What Will The Supreme Court Decide?

It can be difficult to guess how the Supreme Court will rule, even after listening to oral arguments. The two cases at issue involve two different styles of phones: an older flip phone and a more modern smart phone. Some suggest that the Justices may decide that it is okay to search older style flip phones (which include contact lists and call histories) and not smart phones (which include a larger amount of private information). Any decision that relies on the type of technology used by suspects is likely to quickly grow outdated, given the present pace of innovation. The Supreme Court will release its written opinion in early summer.

Getting Help When You Face Criminal Charges

If you have been charged with a crime in Massachusetts, it is critical that you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights, provide sound legal advice, prepare you for trial, and defend you in court. Any delay in getting the help you need could damage your case and lead to long-term consequences. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

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SJC REQUIRES WARRANT FOR CELL PHONE LOCATION INFORMATION

MASSACHUSETTS COURT OF APPEALS LIMITS DEFENDANTS RIGHTS

 

 

Erasing a Criminal Record

Everyone has parts of their past that they regret, but for some that past involves a crime. Even when a person has left the errors of their youth behind them, a criminal record can follow them for years and years.

Common Stigmas for Past Crimes

Those who have a criminal record face a number of societal stigmas. For job seekers, it is particularly challenging to find good positions with a criminal record. Most potential employers ask about past crimes or conduct a criminal background search. It may be difficult to explain a past criminal record, or potential employers may pass on such employees altogether.

In addition to job challenges, there are other instances where people with criminal records face judgment or stigma. A criminal record may prevent people from joining community service groups or other organizations. In some instances, a criminal record may even dictate where a person can live.

Petitioning to Have Your Criminal Records Sealed

For some people, asking the state to seal the criminal records of their conviction is an option. If your criminal records are sealed they will not be available to the public, and you will not have to disclose the fact of your criminal conviction under most circumstances. The circumstances under which your criminal records may be sealed will depend on the nature of your crime and the amount of time that has passed since your conviction.

  • Misdemeanor offenses - You may petition to have your criminal records sealed after five years from the time of your misdemeanor offense, including any time for which you were incarcerated. To qualify you must not have committed any other crime during the five year period.

  • Felony offenses - You may petition to have your criminal records sealed after ten years from the time of your felony offense, including any time for which you were incarcerated. As with sealing the records of a misdemeanor offense, you must not have been found guilty of any crimes during the ten year period.

  • Sex offenses - You may petition to have your criminal records sealed after fifteen years from the time of your sex offense, including any time for which you were incarcerated. However, if you have been classified as a level two or level three sex offender, you may not have your records sealed. As above, you must not have committed any other crimes during the fifteen year period.

  • Offenses no longer considered criminal - If you are convicted of a crime that is later decriminalized, you may petition right way to have your criminal records sealed.

It is important to note that some offenses are not eligible for sealing, no matter how long it has been since your conviction. For example, certain crimes related to the possession or sale of firearms may not be sealed.

Get Help Sealing Your Criminal Records

If you possess a criminal record and have an interest in getting your criminal record sealed, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

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The Burden of Proof in Criminal Trials

Innocent until proven guilty. This is a central tenant of our criminal law system. The state has the ultimate burden of proof when it comes to trying criminal defendants. Satisfying this burden of proof is not easy. In reality, the burden of proof involves two separate burdens, the burden of production and the burden of persuasion. A prosecutor (e.g., the attorney representing the state) must clear both of these hurdles in order to find a defendant guilty of a crime. 

The First Hurdle: The Burden of Production

The first hurdle that a prosecutor faces in reaching a criminal conviction is the burden of production. This burden requires that the prosecutor introduce a sufficient amount of evidence to suggest that the defendant may have committed the crime. This evidence may include testimony, documents, objects, or the like. Before the trial begins, the prosecutor must enumerate the crimes charged against the defendant and must detail the basis of facts the prosecutor intends to prove to support the criminal allegations. It is the role of the trial judge to determine whether the prosecutor has met this burden of production. If the prosecutor has not satisfied the burden of production, the trial judge will dismiss the case and the defendant will be acquitted.

The Second Hurdle: The Burden of Persuasion

The second hurdle that the prosecutor faces in reaching a conviction is the burden of persuasion. In short, this burden requires that the factfinder--usually a jury in a criminal proceeding--is persuaded that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based on the evidence offered. The jury will reach their decision after careful deliberations. If the jury is not persuaded by the evidence presented at trial, the defendant will be acquitted of the crime charged.

Production vs. Persuasion

One might ask how it is possible that a prosecutor can satisfy the burden of production without also satisfying the burden of persuasion? The answer to this question rests on the ability of the jury to weigh each piece of evidence differently than the judge. For example, the prosecutor may introduce eyewitness testimony that the defendant committed a burglary. Because the prosecutor has introduced some evidence of the alleged crime, the burden of production is satisfied. The jury, however, may not be persuaded by the evidence introduced. They may find that the eyewitness is not credible, or that the testimony of the witness is contradictory. Thus, the burden of production may be satisfied without persuading the jury that the defendant actually committed the crime.

Getting Help When You Face Criminal Charges.

If you have been charged with a crime in Massachusetts, it is critical that you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights, provide sound legal advice, prepare you for trial, and defend you in court. Any delay in getting the help you need could damage your case and lead to long-term consequences. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

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MASSACHUSETTS COURT OF APPEALS LIMITS DEFENDANTS RIGHTS

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MASSACHUSETTS BANS “UPSKIRTING” AFTER CONTROVERSIAL SJC RULING

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that “upskirting,” the practice of secretly photographing under a woman’s skirt or dress, was not prohibited by state law. According to a story in The Boston Globe, the SJC found that a state law intended to prohibit “Peeping Tom” voyeurism of completely or partially undressed people did not apply to people who take pictures of people who are fully clothed.

The law in question prohibited secretly photographing a person who was “partially nude,” so the SJC did not feel it applied to upskirting. The decision came in a case involving a man who allegedly took photos under the dresses of women on Green Line trolleys. Trolley riders alerted MBTA Transit Police in August 2010 that a man appeared to be taking photographs of women, including one instance in which he appeared to be attempting to photograph a woman’s crotch area.

Transit Police set up a decoy operation the next day involving a female undercover officer wearing a skirt. Robertson allegedly took pictures of her, focusing on her crotch area, and he was arrested. The defendant was charged in 2011, and filed a motion to dismiss in 2012. That motion was denied by a Boston Municipal Court judge, and the SJC decision reversed that ruling.

The SJC decision drew criticism for allegedly parsing the language of the current statute in such a way that probably conflicted with the intent of the Legislature. Immediately following the SJC ruling, House Speaker Robert DeLeo strongly criticized the decision and vowed that the Legislature would look into ways to close the legal loophole that allowed upskirting to remain legal. He said that the SJC’s ruling was against “the spirit of the current law,” and that the state’s statutes need to be updated to “conform with today’s technology.”

The Legislature wasted no time in following through with DeLeo’s promise. Just a day after the SJC ruling, the House and Senate passed legislation making it a misdemeanor to “photograph, videotape, or electronically surveil” another person’s sexual or intimate parts without that person’s consent. The crime would be punishable by a maximum penalty of 2 ½ years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Governor Deval Patrick quickly signed the bill into law. Going forward, actions like that of the defendant in the SJC case would probably be banned under the new statute.

The upskirting law uses a reasonable person standard, declaring it illegal to take pictures of those parts of their body that such a person would believe would not be publicly visible. Distributing such pictures or images could lead to felony charges and prison time. In addition, the statute expands penalties for secretly taking photos and videos of “the sexual or other intimate parts of a child.”

If you have been charged with voyeurism or a similar crime, and you believe this charge to be in error, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

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WHAT IS A CRIME?

MASSACHUSETTS COURT OF APPEALS LIMITS DEFENDANTS’ RIGHTS

One of the fundamental principles of modern criminal procedure is that evidence acquired in violation of the law is not admissible in court, even if it is reliable in every other way. The so-called “exclusionary rule” is designed to prevent police and prosecutors from bending the rules in order to obtain a conviction, even in cases where all the evidence points to the guilt of the defendant.

In order to conduct a lawful, warrantless search of a suspect, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that the search will produce evidence of a crime. If the officer conducts a search without reasonable suspicion, even if the search produces incriminating evidence, the fruits of that search will be inadmissible in court. Generally, if a suspect has a reasonable expectation of privacy and that expectation is infringed upon without reasonable suspicion, the Constitution has been violated.

The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution protects against unlawful searches and seizures, while Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights provides for even stronger protections for residents of the Commonwealth. The exclusionary rule often comes up in drug arrests, in which officers find drugs on suspects and charge them with violating drug possession laws. Occasionally, in a twist on the usual scenario, the question arises as to whether one suspect has standing to challenge the search and seizure of another suspect.

That is the issue that the Massachusetts Court of Appeals had to address last week in Commonwealth v. Negron. The defendant was charged with distribution of a controlled substance after a police officer witnessed what looked like a hand-to-hand exchange between the defendant and an alleged buyer. The officer searched the alleged buyer, seized four bags of crack cocaine from his person, and arrested him for possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Based on the drugs found on the alleged buyer, the defendant was arrested and charged with distribution.

The defendant asserted that he had standing to challenge the warrantless search of the alleged buyer, and moved to suppress the drugs found on him. Under federal and Massachusetts law, a defendant has standing to challenge the search and seizure of evidence when possession of that evidence is deemed to be an essential element of guilt. In Negron, the court analyzed the language of the statute and reasoned that possession is not an element of distribution.

Therefore, the defendant did not have standing to challenge the search and seizure of the alleged buyer. The court did not address the question of whether the defendant could suppress the evidence, since he did not have standing to challenge it in the first place. This decision, which appears to value statutory literalism over common sense, severely limits the rights of criminal defendants in the Commonwealth.

If you have been charged with a crime after what you feel was an unconstitutional search or seizure, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

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SJC REQUIRES WARRANT FOR CELL PHONE LOCATION INFORMATION

As cell phones have become ubiquitous in our culture, the law has often struggled to catch up to these and other technological innovations. In particular, it has been unclear what steps law enforcement agencies need to take to gain access to cell phone records and information about customers held by cell phone companies. A recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) states that local and state police will often need to acquire a warrant before attempting to track the cell phones of Massachusetts residents.

Whenever a cell phone user makes or receives a phone call, their location data is automatically generated and stored by the cell phone company. This data is known as cell site location information (CSLI), and can be used to track and reconstruct a person’s movements and location over time. Cell phone service providers often turn these records over to law enforcement without asking for a warrant, usually after receiving an administrative subpoena. Major cell phone companies turn over thousands of CSLI records every year.

Last month, in Commonwealth v. Augustine, the SJC found that the Commonwealth’s attempt to obtain two weeks’ worth of CSLI about the defendant without first getting a warrant violated the state constitution’s Article 14 warrant requirement. The SJC reasoned that "the tracking of [Augustine's] movements in the urban Boston area for two weeks was more than sufficient to intrude upon [his] expectation of privacy safeguarded" by the state’s Declaration of Rights. The fact that the CSLI technically belongs to the third-party cell phone companies does not negate the need for a warrant.

The holding in Augustine effectively means that, going forward, police will be required to acquire warrants for many situations in which they want to look at a suspect’s CSLI. The decision does allow for some warrantless searches of CSLI, but significantly narrows the scope of these searches. The defendant in Augustine was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts. ACLU of Massachusetts legal director Matthew R. Segal had the following to say about his organization’s victory:

"Today's ruling is an enormous victory for privacy in the Commonwealth, and it means that Massachusetts is taking an important lead in dealing with the privacy implications of the digital age. Under this ruling, turning on a cell phone does not justify warrantless local and state surveillance of when, where and how you use it. The ACLU took this case because people carry their phones everywhere and use them constantly, so the government can learn much about who we are by finding out where we are while our phones are in use. We argued that this sensitive information deserves the protections of the state's warrant requirement, and the Court agreed."

This ruling entrenches the privacy rights of Massachusetts cell phone users. If you have been arrested after being the victim of an illegal, warrantless search, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

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