Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Mall Santa Faces Indecent Assault and Battery Charges after Allegedly Pinching Co-worker’s Buttocks

Hanover, Massachusetts shoppers have more to be upset about than Black Friday crowds this week now that a mall Santa Claus faces criminal charges. A 62-year-old Hanover Mall photo display Santa is charged with indecent assault and battery after allegedly touching a female employee in an inappropriate sexual manner.

According to kionrightnow.com, 62-year-old Herbert Jones, a Santa Claus working for Cherry Hill Photo, pinched the buttocks of his female co-workers this week at the picture display booth where they both worked. Mr. Jones was allegedly sitting in the Santa Claus chair when he made the offensive move, and told the co-worker that he wished she were younger as he pinched her. While reports indicate that there were no child witnesses to the inappropriate behavior, many mall shoppers are uneasy about the thought of a Santa facing criminal charges for indecent assault and battery. Cherry Hill Photo reportedly denies the allegations of misconduct and Mr. Jones is innocent until proven guilty.

Indecent, or sexual, assault and battery is a crime that is distinct from ordinary assault and battery in that it contains the element of offensive touching on certain parts of the victim’s body. Under Massachusetts criminal laws, indecent assault falls into two different categories for the purposes of sentencing: indecent assault and battery against a person 14-years-old or older; and indecent assault and battery against a child under 14-years-old. When a person is convicted of indecent assault and battery against a victim that is 14-years-old or older, he or she may be sentenced to up to five years in a state prison, or up to two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction. However, if the victim is either an elderly person or a person with a disability, as further defined under the law, the offender may be sentenced up to ten years in prison, or two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction. A subsequent conviction is punishable by up to twenty years in prison. A first-time offender of indecent assault and battery against a child under 14-years-old may be subject to a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment in a state prison, or up to two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction.

It is important to note that not only does an indecent assault and battery offense come with a potentially lengthy prison sentence, it also come with the penalties and consequences that are associated with a “sex offense.” A conviction on a crime that is a “sex offense” requires convicted persons to comply with sex offender registration requirement, which can impact all avenues of a person’s life once he or she is out of prison.

Indecent assault and battery, and all “sex offenses, are very complex cases and skill and experience are necessary in order to understand the full range of consequences of a conviction. If you have been charged with a sex offense, or any criminal offense under Massachusetts law, your best line of defense is to immediately speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

See Related Stories:

Alleged Assault and Battery By Means of a Deadly Weapon at Boston Bar

Middlesex Appeals Court Sets Aside Verdict of Sex Offender on Accosting or Annoying Charges, Affirms Attempted Kidnapping Charges

 

Supreme Judicial Court Rules that School Zone Amendment Applies Retroactively

This past week the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled on an important issue regarding the 2012 law passed by the Massachusetts legislature decreasing the “school zone” limits for drug possession conviction enhancements from 1,000 feet to 300 feet.

The defendant in Commonwealth v. Bradley was originally charged on November 8, 2010 under G.L. c. 94C, § 32C (a ) for possession of marijuana (a class D substance) with intent to distribute it, and was in violation of Massachusetts’ school zone law, G.L. c. 94C, § 32J. The school zone law established sentencing enhancements for committing a drug offense within 1,000 feet of a school. The defendant had allegedly had some quantity of marijuana in his dormitory room, which was 700 feet from a preschool facility. The marijuana was seized by Williamstown police officers who had done so pursuant to a search warrant of the room.

On August 2, 2012, however, Massachusetts passed St.2012, c. 192, otherwise known as “An Act Relative to Sentencing and Improving Law Enforcement Tools.” Among other things, the act amended the school zone law by decreasing the school zone from 1,000 feet to 300 feet. At this time, the defendant in Commonwealth v. Bradley had still not been convicted of the charges against him related to possession of marijuana in a school zone.

The ultimate question before the Supreme Judicial Court was whether the amendment to the school zone law should be applied retroactively so that those who had been charged but not yet adjudicated of their crimes when the amendment was passed. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the amendment should apply to the defendant, and to all others who had been charged, but not yet adjudicated, pursuant to violating the school zone law, prior to August 2, 2012.

In analyzing whether the amendment should be applied prospectively or retroactively, the Supreme Judicial Court reviewed whether a prospective application was “inconsistent with the manifest intent of the law-making body,” that is, did the legislature express the intent for the law to be applied retroactively; and whether prospective application would be “repugnant” to the context of the statute. While the Supreme Judicial Court did not find that the legislature had expressly intended the statute to be applied retroactively, it did find that a prospective application would be repugnant to the context of the amendment.

The Supreme Judicial Court found that one of the bases for the amendment was the unequal pattern of conviction between urban residents and rural residents of Massachusetts. In urban communities, where it is nearly impossible to not be within 1,000 feet of a school zone, findings indicated that African American and Latino residents were being convicted at a much higher rate than white residents, even though African Americans and Latinos do not use more drugs and only make up one-quarter of the population of the state. Being aware that is imbalance was occurring among the state’s residents, the legislature enacted the amendment, which the court found was compelling enough evidence that prospective application would only delay inequality among Massachusetts’ residents.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts criminal laws 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.

 

Alleged Assault and Battery by Means of a Deadly Weapon at Boston Bar

As the winter draws nearer, Bostonians will likely be found indoors at their favorite local bars, cozying up with pints of darker ales and hanging out with friends. Not surprisingly, as bars get busier and patrons become more intoxicated towards the later hours of the night and early morning, a friendly local watering hole may turn into the scene of a criminal offense.

Coogan’s Bar in Boston was the scene of an assault and battery incident this week on Sunday. According to WCVB.com, a fight allegedly broke out at the Milk Street establishment after the victim confronted a pair of men who were attempting to cut in line for entrance to the bar. According to a witness, the two men allegedly punched the victim in the face multiple times and then stabbed him in the torso. One of them men allegedly got into a cap and left the scene and he was later apprehended by police. He was later identified as Peter J. Damelio. The victim was transported to a nearby hospital for serious injuries. Ultimately, Mr. Damelio was charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. His case is pending and he was scheduled to appear on Monday at the Boston Municipal Court.

Assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon is a serious crime in Massachusetts. However, it may be a charge that is more expansive than one might think. Generally speaking, when people think of “dangerous weapons” they probably think of either a firearm or a knife. Each state has its own laws regarding what is considered to be a dangerous weapon, and what is included may be surprising.

What exactly is considered to be a dangerous weapon under Massachusetts law is neatly summarized in the 2005 case Commonwealth v. Christopher Fettes. In this case, a 66-year-old landlady was at her apartment complex to collect rent when she encountered an unknown man with an eight-month-old pit bull on leash by his side. The landlady accused the man of allowing his dog to defecate on the property, and became upset. After the landlady walked away, she heard the man say something to the dog and let the leash loose. The dog lunged at the landlady and injured her hand, causing nerve damage.

The man was convicted of assault and battery by means of a deadly weapon and appealed his judgment. He argued that it was an error to deny his motion for a required finding of not guilty, but the Massachusetts’ appellate court affirmed the lower court. The appellate court held that a dog, can, in fact, be a dangerous weapon under Massachusetts law. The court further held that a dangerous weapon is “any instrument or instrumentality so constructed or so used as to be likely to produce death or great bodily harm.” The court concluded that it was in the jury’s discretion to determine whether the man had caused the dog to bite to woman, or whether the dog did so of his own volition, in ultimately affirming the conviction.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts criminal laws, 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.

 

14-Year-Old Massachusetts Student Faces Serious Criminal Charges after Allegedly Killing Math Teacher

It is likely shocking to many people when young teenagers commit violent criminal offenses. Drug offenses or driving offenses are one thing, but murder perpetrated by a person under 18-years-old is often unthinkable.

This week families from the town of Danvers, Massachusetts, and families across the United States, mourned the death of a beloved high school math teacher. NBCnews.com reports that the body of 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer, of Danvers, was found in the woods nearby the high school where she taught at about midnight on Wednesday. Ms. Ritzer was allegedly stabbed to death with a box-cutter by 14-year-old student Philip Chism. Mr. Chism was a freshman at the school.

Ms. Ritzer had allegedly asked Mr. Chism to meet with her after his class on the day that she was killed. Security cameras show that Mr. Chism followed Ms. Ritzer into a bathroom, and then exited with blood on his clothing. Sources say that Mr. Chism disposed of Ms. Ritzer’s body by hiding it inside of a recycling bin and wheeling it away. After disposing of her body, Mr. Chism allegedly changed his clothing and then saw Woody Allen’s film “Blue Jasmine” at a theatre. He also allegedly used Ms. Ritzer’s credit card to buy food. Mr. Chism has been charged with first degree murder as an adult and is currently being held without bail.

Under Massachusetts law, first degree murder is murder that was deliberate and premeditated or extremely atrocious and cruel. Additionally, a person is guilty of first degree murder if he or she murders another person while committing or attempting to commit another crime that is punishable by life imprisonment. Murders that are not first degree murders are second degree murders. The degree of murder is determined by the jury in each case.

The maximum sentence for first-degree murder in Massachusetts is life imprisonment. Unlike many other states, Massachusetts has abolished the death penalty, even in first degree murder cases. According to deathpenaltyinfo.org, Massachusetts officially banned the death penalty in 1984. The seminal case that led to the abolition was Commonwealth v. Cruz, in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the law allowing penalty of death was unconstitutional because it was not applied equally to all defendants; defendants who took their case to a jury trial were eligible, while defendants who pleaded guilty were not.

Interestingly, before 1951, in Massachusetts a first degree murder conviction was met with a mandatory death sentence. While this was later amended to allow for jury discretion, the death penalty was still required in cases where the murder involved rape or attempted rape of the victim.

First degree murder charges are very seriously prosecuted in Massachusetts and throughout the United States. A first degree murder charge can bring with it severe penalties and consequences, including incarceration for the remainder of a person’s natural life.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts criminal laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. An experienced defense attorney can help understand the substantive and procedural aspects of your criminal case, and may be able to defend your case in court. Contact Edward R. Molari Attorney at Law today for a confidential consultation.

 

See Related Posts:

Former Football Star Faces First Degree Murder and Weapons Charges in Killing of Friend Massachusetts to Strengthen Gun Control Laws in the Wake of the Sandy Hook Tragedy? 

 

14-Year-Old Massachusetts Student Faces Serious Criminal Charges after Allegedly Killing Math Teacher

 

It is likely shocking to many people when young teenagers commit violent criminal offenses. Drug offenses or driving offenses are one thing, but murder perpetrated by a person under 18-years-old is often unthinkable.

This week families from the town of Danvers, Massachusetts, and families across the United States, mourned the death of a beloved high school math teacher. NBCnews.com reports that the body of 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer, of Danvers, was found in the woods nearby the high school where she taught at about midnight on Wednesday. Ms. Ritzer was allegedly stabbed to death with a box-cutter by 14-year-old student Philip Chism. Mr. Chism was a freshman at the school.

Ms. Ritzer had allegedly asked Mr. Chism to meet with her after his class on the day that she was killed. Security cameras show that Mr. Chism followed Ms. Ritzer into a bathroom, and then exited with blood on his clothing. Sources say that Mr. Chism disposed of Ms. Ritzer’s body by hiding it inside of a recycling bin and wheeling it away. After disposing of her body, Mr. Chism allegedly changed his clothing and then saw Woody Allen’s film “Blue Jasmine” at a theatre. He also allegedly used Ms. Ritzer’s credit card to buy food. Mr. Chism has been charged with first degree murder as an adult and is currently being held without bail.

Under Massachusetts law, first degree murder is murder that was deliberate and premeditated or extremely atrocious and cruel. Additionally, a person is guilty of first degree murder if he or she murders another person while committing or attempting to commit another crime that is punishable by life imprisonment. Murders that are not first degree murders are second degree murders. The degree of murder is determined by the jury in each case.

The maximum sentence for first-degree murder in Massachusetts is life imprisonment. Unlike many other states, Massachusetts has abolished the death penalty, even in first degree murder cases. According to deathpenaltyinfo.org, Massachusetts officially banned the death penalty in 1984. The seminal case that led to the abolition was Commonwealth v. Cruz, in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the law allowing penalty of death was unconstitutional because it was not applied equally to all defendants; defendants who took their case to a jury trial were eligible, while defendants who pleaded guilty were not.

Interestingly, before 1951, in Massachusetts a first degree murder conviction was met with a mandatory death sentence. While this was later amended to allow for jury discretion, the death penalty was still required in cases where the murder involved rape or attempted rape of the victim.

First degree murder charges are very seriously prosecuted in Massachusetts and throughout the United States. A first degree murder charge can bring with it severe penalties and consequences, including incarceration for the remainder of a person’s natural life.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts criminal laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. An experienced defense attorney can help understand the substantive and procedural aspects of your criminal case, and may be able to defend your case in court. Contact Edward R. Molari Attorney at Law today for a confidential consultation.


 

See Related Posts:

Former Football Star Faces First Degree Murder and Weapons Charges in Killing of Friend
Massachusetts to Strengthen Gun Control Laws in the Wake of the Sandy Hook Tragedy? 

Former Football Star Faces First-Degree Murder and Weapons Charges in Killing of Friend

 

Former New England Patriot football player Aaron Hernandez is facing charges for murder and firearms offenses in Massachusetts for the summer killing of his friend, 27-year-old Odin Lloyd. According to wwlp.com, new developments in the criminal case center on 24-year-old Shayanna Jenkins, Mr. Hernandez’s girlfriend. According to reports, Ms. Jenkins was indicted on one count of perjury for her actions during the murder investigation earlier this month. While it is not clear exactly what led to Ms. Jenkins’ indictment, the action by the grand jury puts this case in the spotlight once again.

 

Of the five people that face charges in connection with Mr. Lloyd’s killing, the media has frenzied around his friend, Mr. Hernandez. According to CNN.com, the former tight end player is accused of orchestrating the killing of Mr. Lloyd, who was found dead in an industrial park in mid-June. Mr. Hernandez and several other men allegedly picked Mr. Lloyd up on the morning before his death. Mr. Hernandez had pleaded not guilty to several charges, including first-degree murder and weapons charges. Prosecutors believe that Mr. Hernandez’s motivation for killing his friend was related to his anger over Mr. Lloyd talking to certain people that he had problems with at a nightclub.

 

Most people are aware that first-degree murder charges are very serious, and could lead to a very long term of imprisonment, as well as other severe penalties and consequences. However, it is important for Massachusetts residents to understand that weapons charges are also seriously prosecuted in Massachusetts, and can bring with them long terms of imprisonment, a felony record, and other collateral consequences.

 

Massachusetts weapons charges and gun laws are extremely complex. However, one provision of the Massachusetts General Laws that is demonstrative of the severity of weapons charges in Massachusetts is the law against using a firearm while committing a felony crime. Under Massachusetts General Laws Part IV Title I Chapter 265 Section 18b, a person is guilty of using a firearm during the commission a felony if he or she had a firearm in his or her possession or under his or her control during the commission or attempted commission of a felony crime. This includes the possession or control of a rifle or a shotgun. The penalty for a rifle, shotgun, or other firearm is a term of imprisonment of at least five years. However, if the firearm was a machine gun, the term of imprisonment is lengthened to a term of no less than 10 years.

 

Subsequent violations of the law bring with them even harsher penalties. A subsequent offense of the law may be punished by a prison term of no less than 20 years. If the subsequent offense was committed with a large capacity semiautomatic weapon, or a machine gun, the term may be no less than 25 years. Sentences under the law may not be reduced or suspended, and a person convicted under the law will not be eligible for probation, parole, work release, or furlough until the minimum term has been served.

 

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts criminal laws 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.

 

See Related Posts:

SJC Affirms Firearms Possession Convictions Despite Defendant’s Double Jeopardy Argument

Commonwealth Ruling Sets Limits on Constructive Possession Firearm Law

 

 

 

Supreme Judicial Court Rules on Criminal Procedure Question in Massachusetts Bank Robbery Case

In the 1990’s, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled on an integral case in criminal procedure, Commonwealth v. Rosario. The SJC’s ruling in Rosario established a rule that statements that are made by an arrested suspect within six hours of his or her arrest are not subject to suppression due to a delay in his or her arraignment, but that statements made beyond six hours of arrest are inadmissible in evidence unless the arrested suspect has waived his or her right to timely arraignment. Last week, the SJC applied the Rosario ruling to a recent appeals case that it transferred on its own initiative from the Appeals Court to which the Commonwealth had appealed the lower court’s order granting the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence.

The basic facts in Commonwealth v. Fortunato were summarized in the SJC’s opinion. The defendant was indicted for armed robbery and for being a habitual offender after he allegedly robbed a Reading, Massachusetts bank. At that bank, a man, thought to be the defendant, made statements that he had a firearm, and told the teller to give him cash. The man fled the scene but was caught on the bank’s security cameras. A detective named Michael Saunders of the Reading police department was assigned to the case and went to New York where the defendant had recently been released from prison. The defendant was meeting with his New York parole officer when Saunders and a State Trooper informed him that he was a suspect in the bank robbery. Saunders and the State Trooper administered the defendant his Miranda warnings and recorded an interview. The defendant indicated to Saunders and the State Trooper that he would speak with them after he was returned to Massachusetts.

Two days later, Saunders and the State Trooper arrested the defendant in Massachusetts. The defendant was taken to the Reading police department about one hour later. The arresting officers apparently did not inform the defendant of his right to prompt arraignment during his arrest. During booking, which occurred almost two hours later, the defendant was given his Miranda warnings, and the defendant acknowledged in writing that he had received them. When Saunders attempted to interview the defendant, he refused this time, and was returned from the interview room to his holding cell.

Over six hours from his arrest, and about four hours after his booking, the defendant finally asked to speak to Saunders. Saunders went to the defendant’s cell but did not mention anything about the defendant’s right to prompt arraignment, nor did he provide an arraignment waiver form.  Saunders did not re-administer the defendant’s Miranda warnings.  Saunders and the defendant then proceeded to have a conversation regarding the events that took place at the Reading bank, in a hypothetical manner.

The lower court’s motion judge ruled that the exchange that took place between Saunders and the defendant that night in the defendant’s cell was inadmissible into evidence due to the Rosario rule. The lower court judge held that Rosario establishes a bright-line rule that gives the police a safe-harbor for questioning suspects, but that when that safe-harbor expires, statements made by the defendant are inadmissible. The judge did not address the Commonwealth’s argument that the defendant’s statements were “spontaneous and unsolicited” because she believed that the Rosario ruling applied to any statements.

The SJC did not address whether spontaneous and unsolicited statements would be admissible under Rosario, but rather determined that they were inadmissible because they were the fruit of direct police questioning, which falls squarely under Rosario. The SJC ultimately determined that although it was spread out, the over six hours in which the defendant was in police custody constituted a single episode of police questioning, which is protected under the Rosario rule. Therefore, the SJC affirmed the defendant’s motion to suppress the statements that he had made to Saunders.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts’ criminal laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law today for a confidential consultation.

 

Massachusetts Criminal Laws Get Major Update for 17-year-old Defendants

Facing criminal charges is never an easy time in a person’s life, even for those who have experience in the criminal justice system due to a long rap sheet. The confusion, uncertainty, and fear are likely even more pronounced, however, for juveniles who face serious felony charges that could land them in jail for the rest of their lives. While a 17-year-old must wait to vote and buy cigarettes, until recently in Massachusetts, he or she could be charged and sentenced for crimes as an adult. Recent changes to Massachusetts law update criminal procedure in regards to the gray-area that 17-year-old offenders used to face, providing clarity to young offenders and their juvenile delinquency defense attorneys.

 

According to masslive.com, until just this month, 17-year-olds in Massachusetts could be considered adults when facing criminal charges in criminal court. The adult status placed onto a young person extended to all aspects of criminal procedure, including arraignment and sentencing. This meant that 17-year-olds could face the same sentences as adults, and could be placed in adult prisons and jails. It also meant that the chances for rehabilitative and other services provided through the juvenile justice system, were not available for these young but serious criminals.

States throughout the nation have been reviewing criminal procedural laws in regards to 17-year-olds, and many have already passed legislation ending the severe practice of considering them as adults. With 38 states already extending exclusive juvenile jurisdiction to 17-year-olds, Massachusetts became the 39th state to do so on September 18. The legislation, introduced by several legislative members, as well as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, gained bipartisan support and passed this legislative session. Governor Patrick signed the bill into law on Wednesday, noting that he believed it was a great thing that 17-year-olds will no longer be treated as adults when it comes to criminal classification.

Under the new law, if 17-year-olds are convicted of certain violent crimes, a juvenile court judge can still impose an adult sentence. The Milford Massachusetts Patch website notes that juvenile cases—which now include those cases involving 17-year-old defendants—will be heard before a juvenile court judge, and juveniles will be in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. This is a major change to the criminal procedure laws that used to allow 17-year-olds to be heard by criminal court judges, and be sentenced to serve jail time in adult facilities. 17-year-olds, however, don’t get a free pass out of jail, or lighter sentence in some cases. In the case of certain serious and violent crimes, a juvenile can still be sentenced as an adult if the judge imposes an adult sentence.

Although it is clear that 17-year-olds will be treated as 17-year-olds under Massachusetts criminal laws, it is important to note that juvenile charges are seriously prosecuted. A juvenile conviction may result in severe penalties and consequences, and can change a young person’s life forever. If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts criminal laws, you should immediately seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the offices of Edward R. Molari today for a confidential consultation.

 

SJC Affirms Firearms Possession Convictions Despite Defendant’s Double Jeopardy Argument

In Massachusetts, firearms offenses are severely prosecuted. The Massachusetts General Laws establish the type of conduct related to firearms that constitute criminal offenses. Under Part IV, Title I, Chapter 269, Section 10(a), Massachusetts law prohibits the possession of a gun outside of a person’s residence or place of business. In a recent case, the number of violations that a defendant can be charged with under GL Chapter 269 Section 10(a) when he uses the same gun within a short time period was tested at the Supreme Judicial Court level.

In Commonwealth v. Horne, decided earlier this week on September 16, among other arguments, the defendant argued that his two convictions for unlicensed carrying of a firearm under G.L. Chapter 269, Section 10A were duplicative and in violation of the double jeopardy clause because they were based on his continuous and uninterrupted possession of the same firearm.

In 2009, the defendant’s t.v. was taken from home in Springfield, Massachusetts. Somehow the defendant learned that a man named Joseph was the thief. The next day, Joseph Darco was at a birthday party at Brittany Perez’s apartment, which was on the same street as the defendant’s home. A guest at the party heard someone shout “I want my TV” sometime after sunset. That person saw the defendant outside holding a gun. Mr. Darco was outside and a confrontation took place. During the confrontation, the defendant showed Mr. Darco the gun. Mr. Darco went back into the house, and then later emerged with a friend and two other party members. There was a commotion outside and Ms. Perez’s mother told the men to take their fight somewhere else. At that point, the defendant went back to his apartment.

By the early morning, around 1:30AM, the party had ended. Ms. Perez was standing inside of the apartment in front of a window. The window was covered with dark curtains and a set of blinds. Ms.

Perez was talking with her mother when she was shot. One of Ms. Perez’s neighbors saw the defendant flee the scene. He was later arrested and police uncovered the gun, which he had attempted to dispose of nearby.

The SJC first noted that defendant’s first charge of possession of a rifle was based on his possession of the rifle when he first confronted Mr. Darco. The second charge was based on his possession of the rifle when he shot at Ms. Perez’s window. The SJC then determined that while courts have held that unlawful possession of a firearm is a single and continuous offense, the Massachusetts statute clearly establishes that the offense is committed when a person possess a gun without a license outside of his or her residence or business, and a defendant stops violating the law when he or she goes back into his or her residence or business, thereby relinquishing possession of the gun. The court deemed that the “unit of prosecution” of the statute, therefore, is the continuous possession of a firearm outside the possessor’s residence or business.

In defendant’s case, two distinct prosecutable crimes resulted from his coming and going from the party. The SJC held that because the defendant had returned to his home after confronting Mr. Darco, and then went back to the apartment with the rifle later that evening, he had committed two separate and distinguishable crimes. Ultimately, the SJC affirmed defendant’s possession charges.

Firearms offenses in Massachusetts are complex and may lead to severe penalties and consequences. If you have been charged with a firearms offense for unlawful possession of a firearm, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law today for a confidential consultation. 

 

Supreme Judicial Court Reinstates Co-Defendant’s Charges; Co-Defendant Faces Potential Robbery and Murder Conviction

Criminal charges can lead to severe penalties and consequences, especially when certain aggravating factors were part of the alleged crime. In the heat of the moment, a person might make decisions that ultimately seal his or her fate, especially when it comes to his or her day in court. Aggravating factors that may increase jail time, fines and other penalties include such things as the identity and the age of the victim. For one Massachusetts man, the decision to allegedly assist a robbery, which resulted in the death of a police officer, may seal his fate as an inmate in prison for a long time.

On August 28 of this year, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled on the case of Scott Hanright, a 22-year-old man who allegedly assisted his grandmother’s boyfriend in the jewelry store robbery that resulted in the death of Woburn Police Officer Jack Maguire. According to the Supreme Judicial Court’s opinion, the alleged robbery and murder took place in December of 2010, when Mr. Hanright was only 19-years-old. Mr. Hanright had been living with his grandmother, who was romantically involved with Domenic Cinelli. Mr. Hanright knew that Mr. Cinelli had been imprisoned for over 30 years for robbing jewelry stores. One day, when Mr. Cinelli was giving Mr. Hanright a ride to work, he mentioned the idea of robbing a jewelry counter by using a gun and a mask. Mr. Cinelli told Mr. Hanright that he wanted to commit the robbery during a snowstorm. Prior to the robbery, Mr. Cinelli and Mr. Hanright had driven escape routes for the robbery, and only a few days before the robbery, Mr. Cinelli told Mr. Hanright that he had gone to the store to rob it himself, but then decided against it due to the presence of police officers. Mr. Hanright was aware that Mr. Cinelli did, indeed, own a gun.

After a blizzard had covered the ground in a foot of snow, Mr. Cinelli called Mr. Hanright and asked if he wanted to go for a ride. Mr. Hanright noticed that Mr. Cinelli was wearing a fake beard and a mask, and he became afraid that Mr. Cinelli had a gun. He knew that Mr. Cinelli was going to commit the robbery that evening. Mr. Cinelli instructed Mr. Hanright to wear a ski mask and stand outside and wait for him while he robbed the store, and then the two would escape in the car. Mr. Cinelli collected jewelry from the store’s employees and then exited the store. An officer was responding the call that a robbery was taking place and chased Mr. Cinelli. Officer Maguire also responded to the scene and a gunfight ensued, in which both Mr. Cinelli and Officer Maguire were killed. Mr. Hanright attempted to flee the scene in a casual manner, but was later arrested.

The bostonherald.com reports that the state had appealed Mr. Hanright’s case to the SJC after a lower court judge dismissed four assault charges against Mr. Hanright, as well as a firearms charge. On the appeal, the SJC reinstated the charges, ultimately holding that Mr. Hanright may be held liable as a co-defendant in the killing of Officer Maguire, and other crimes that Mr. Cinelli committed during his attempted escape from the jewelry store. The state will have to prove that Mr. Hanright both participated in the crimes of Mr. Cinelli, and that he intended those crimes. For prosecutors, the SJC’s ruling is a victory. The Boston Globe reports that Mr. Hanright currently faces 22 charges in relation to the robbery and death of Officer Maguire. He is currently being held without bail.

Criminal charges can be very complex, especially when aggravating factors are present. If you have been charged with violating criminal laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

 

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