Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

What to do When Pulled Over for OUI

A man was recently charged with drunk driving following an accident. Law enforcement officers responded to the accident and discovered a vehicle stopped against a tree on the sidewalk. The driver was exiting the crashed vehicle as law enforcement approached. It was soon discovered that the driver smelled of alcohol and that his eyes were “bloodshot and glassy.”

The driver had a small cut on the bridge of his nose, but told law enforcement that he was not injured and declined a medical examination. He later claimed that he had been looking at the GPS on his phone and had missed a turn, which led to the crash.

When law enforcement asked the man if he had been drinking, he replied that he had only one or two beers. After a field sobriety test was conducted, the man was arrested at the scene of the accident and charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence, impeding operation of a motor vehicle, and a marked lane violation.

What to do if You are Stopped for OUI

While being pulled over for a OUI in Massachusetts can be a frightening experience, many people are aware that there are certain things that they should never do, like admit how many beers they drank or lie about how an accident occurred. Knowing exactly what to do if questioned by law enforcement during a OUI stop, however, can be much more complicated. Some of the important steps that you should remember to take include the following:

  • Be respectful to law enforcement. This does not mean, however, that you should provide incriminating information. Instead, remember your rights and stay silent.

  • You do not have to take a field sobriety test in Massachusetts. If you take the test and fail, it can give law enforcement probable cause to arrest you.

  • Do not admit you have had anything to drink. Law enforcement officers will not make things easier on you because you reveal this information. Instead, they will consider your statement about drinking as evidence that can be used against you.

  • If you contact your family or lawyer in front of the officers, be careful about what you say because they can overhear this information and use it as a sign of admission or as evidence against you.

  • Do not hesitate to obtain the assistance of an experienced OUI attorney who understands the obstacles that commonly arise and who can help you navigate the legal process to follow.

Speak with an Experienced OUI Attorney Today

In many cases, law enforcement does not expect people charged with a OUI to fight back. This is why you should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of a skilled OUI attorney. Attorney Edward Molari has helped numerous people respond to OUI charges and knows what it takes to make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Defenses to Charges of Larceny

A mailman in Taunton, Massachusetts was recently charged with larceny after he was discovered stealing money from a woman’s purse. The arrest occurred when officers responded to Cumberland Farms on Main Street. The victim of the offense told law enforcement that the offense occurred after she placed her purse on a counter and walked away from it briefly inside a store. When the woman returned to her purse, she discovered that more than $60 had been stolen from it. A review of security footage showed that a person in a U.S. Postal uniform had reached into the woman’s purse and taken the money.

Fortunately, law enforcement was able to recover the stolen money, and the man who committed the offense was later released on bail. He has been charged with larceny, and the exact outcome of the case remains uncertain.

If you are charged with larceny in Massachusetts, you might feel like there is little you can do to fight the charges. The penalties associated with these offenses can have a substantial impact on your future by creating obstacles that make it difficult to pursue career and educational goals even if after you have served your time. In reality, even in situations in which there might be a substantial amount of evidence against you, it is still possible to create a strong defense to respond to these charges. This article will review some of the most common and strongest legal strategies that can be raised. It is also important to remember that in these situations, it is frequently a wise idea to obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Proving that You Owned the Property

In some cases, people are charged with larceny after attempting to retrieve property that they believe they rightfully own. If you are able to present strong evidence to support this belief, you might just be able to create a strong defense. In situations where a person lacks evidence, however, this is often unlikely to be a successful defense.

You Intended to Return the Property

Sometimes, people do not intend to take or steal the property that they are claimed to have taken unlawfully. In these situations, you must establish that you only intended to borrow the property that was taken. While intent to borrow is almost always not enough to dismiss larceny charges, it can result in the ultimate penalties that you end up facing being severely lessened.

Intoxication

If the taking of the property involved alcohol, you might be able to claim that you were too intoxicated to recognize that the item you were taking did not lawfully belong to you. In some cases, raising an intoxication defense can result in the claims pending against you being entirely dismissed.

Contact a Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are convicted of larceny, it is frequently in your best interest to obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact attorney Edward Molari today to make sure that you have strong legal representation to navigate this difficult time. Speak with our law office today to schedule an initial free consultation.

What You Should Know About the Arraignment Process

A man was recently arrested on multiple charges including attempted murder as well as human trafficking after a SWAT team responded to the man’s home. The man was charged with human trafficking, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. The man additionally faces assault and battery charges as as well as ammunition possession and firearm charges. Details about the investigation process have not yet been released. The man charged, however, is expected to be arraigned at Quincy District Court.

The arraignment process in Massachusetts is the first hearing that occurs after a person is arrested in a criminal case. The arraignment process is also the first hearing after a magistrate issues the charges after a show. Because the arraignment is a particularly important part of the criminal justice system, it is a wise idea to obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer during this time. It also helps to understand some important details about how the arraignment process works.

The Purpose of the Arraignment Process

The arraignment process exists to charge a person with a crime. After charges are listed, a judge will ask if the individual wants to retain his or her own legal counsel or attempt to qualify for a court appointed lawyer. The Judge will also ask the District Attorney if the Commonwealth plans on seeking bail. During the arraignment process, the defendant is not required to speak at any time.

How Bail is Decided

Bails exists to make certain that the person being charged appears at the next court date. Bail was not created to punish a defendant and must not be so high as to be unfair. Judges in Massachusetts are able to consider two factors when deciding bail - risk of flight and the danger presented to the community. A person’s previous defaults as well as record of any previously missed court dates will also be taken into consideration when deciding bail. Judges are not required to set bail in every case. In some situations, judges might set other conditions of release. Bails are capable of being reviewed by higher judges in Massachusetts. As a result, if a judge sets bail that is high, a person has the ability to appeal to a Superior Court Judge who can decide whether to further increase, lower, or keep the bail the same.

After Arraignment

Many times, a case is schedule for a pre-trial conference or pre-trial hearing after an arraignment. During these informal sessions, attorneys will determine the possibility for a plea or the types of trial that might occur.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have questions about the arraignment process, you should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact attorney Edward Molari today to schedule an initial free consultation. Attorney Molari has significant experience helping individuals navigate the complicated issues involved with criminal law cases and knows what it takes to make certain that your case resolves in the best possible manner.

Understanding Massachusetts Bench Warrants

A man in Massachusetts who mailed envelopes containing a mysterious white power along with a threatening note to five powerful individuals including President Trump recently entered a guilty plea for 13 counts of a threat to injure an individual as well as six counts of false information. After being arrested and charged, the man now faces up to 10 years in prison.

There are two types of “body” warrants in Massachusetts that attached to a person including arrest warrants and bench warrants. Both of these warrants grant law enforcement with certain powers. It is important for people who are subject to bench warrants to understand how these warrants are made. It also helps to understand some important details about the nature of bench warrants in Massachusetts.

The Nature of Massachusetts Bench Warrants

Arising from some type of court-related defect by an individual, bench warrants in Massachusetts are executed by the judge presiding over the case. Once the warrant is executed, it might be entered into a database that notifies law enforcement if they come into any type of contact with you that they have the ability to arrest you for the violation. Because bench warrants are not connected to an active or serious crime, these warrants do not cause law enforcement to actively search for a person. Ignoring the warrant, however, is still risky and will likely result in you being arrested eventually.

Bench warrants can have numerous serious consequences, which is why it is often in your best interest to resolve the issue properly as soon as you can. Obtain the assistance of an experienced attorney who can make certain that your case resolves in the best possible manner. An experienced criminal defense attorney might even be able to remove your bench warrant by filing the appropriate motions with the court.

The Difference Between Bench and Arrest Warrants

Arrest warrants are often requested by law enforcement officers or the district attorney’s office when probable cause exists to believe that the offense in question was committed by the named person. A judge will review the complaint as well as the policet report when a request for the warrant is made. With an eye toward whether probable cause exists, the judge will determine whether a warrant should be granted. Arrest warrants are sometimes issued in addition to a criminal summons resulting from a Grand Jury indictment. Because arrest warrants are committed to an active offense, law enforcement officers almost always aggressively pursue individuals for whom arrest warrants are issued.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you have questions about the criminal defense process in Massachusetts, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced attorney who can make certain that your case resolves in the best possible manner. Contact attorney Edward Molari today to schedule an initial free consultation.

Wareham Police and Prosecutors Lose All Sense of Proportion Serving Warrant

Over the Summer, apparently, some kid in Wareham apparently called in what police refer to as "terroistic threats" -- a legal term that doesn't even apply in Massachusetts -- to local businesses.  After some kind of investigation that apparently spanned several months, the police traced the calls. They got a warrant, and broke down the suspect's door:

Wareham Police Bravely Engage a Wooden Door

A "detective was injured by a piece of wood that became embedded in his arm."  Note, the injury had nothing to do with the threats the suspect allegedly made months earlier.  Rather, the door splintered when the police broke it down.  Since the kid was arrested at the scene, it appears he was inside at the time the police arrived with a battering ram, crowbar, and camera crew.

Counsel for the door declined to comment, except to say that the door claims it was only acting in self defense.

Meanwhile, the kid who allegedly made these threats -- and as yet is not alleged to have actually hurt anyone -- is being held without bail as a danger to the community.* The door remains a large.

*not a joke, he's really in jail without bail because a prosecutor claimed that no conditions of release could adequately ensure the safety of the community

What it Means to be an Accessory after a Crime

Recently, Massachusetts State Police reported the conclusion of a six-month investigation, “Operation Golden Ticket” which led to 171 counts being brought against five individuals including breaking and entering, conspiracy, larceny, and receiving stolen motor vehicles. The men being charged committed offenses in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Led by a man referred to by law enforcement as “Willy Wonka,” the offenses involved 17 burglaries and 12 car thefts with more than $300,000 of items being stolen. While three of the men have since been apprehended, two of the suspects still remain at large. If you have been involved in a criminal conspiracy like this and are now facing charges, it is crucial to understand that there are numerous offenses that you can end up facing including involvement as an accessory after the fact. Because the penalties that result from these charges are often severe, it is a wise idea to contact an experienced attorney in these situations.

What it Means to be an Accessory After the Fact

To be convicted as an accessory after the fact, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must establish that beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  • The defendant aided a principal felon or accessory to an offense after the commission of the crime

  • The defendant was aware that the other person had committed or was an accessory in the commision of the offense

  • The defendant aided the offender with the intent to help him or her avoid or escape arrest, detention, punishment, or trial

What Penalties You can Expect to Face

The exact penalties that you can expect to face if you were an accessory after the fact depend on the offense involved as well as various other details. The more serious the offense with which you are charged, the more likely that you can expect to face substantial fines and even lengthy sentences of imprisonment. After the 1994 case of Commonwealth v. Talbot, Massachusetts courts have ruled that being an accessory after the fact is not a lesser element of other crimes, and you can end up being convicted of accessory after the fact as well as other offenses. Because the penalties are often severe, it is best to obtain the assistance of an experienced lawyer in these situations who can immediately begin to help you create a strong defense. One of the defenses that can be raised if you are charged as an accessory after the fact is that you are a protected family member through adoption or blood of the person who committed the offense.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you face charges as an accessory after a crime, it is critical that you quickly obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Edward Molari is committed to helping you create the strongest defense possible. In his years of helping others who have faced similar charges, attorney Molari has gained the experience to know what it takes to fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Contact his office today to schedule an initial free consultation.

Understanding the Levels of Sex Offense Crimes in Massachusetts

Recently, the Massachusetts State Police captured one of the state’s most wanted sex offenders in a New York City area motel room. The man is a classified as a Level 3 sex offender after being convicted of the 1991 rape of a child under the age of 16. While the man completed a prison sentence, he was wanted for four counts of failure to register as a sex offender. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security classifies sex offenders as individuals who live in, work at, or attend an educational facility in Massachusetts and who have been convicted of a sex offense. The state’s sex offender classification also includes youthful offender and juvenile delinquents who have been charged with sex offenses, individuals who have been released from incarceration or probation in Massachusetts, and people who have been classified as sexually dangerous individuals.

Since August 1, 1981, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has utilized a sex offender rating system. The more serious offense with which you are charged, the higher the sex offender classification you will receive. Because higher classifications can result in particularly severe penalties, to avoid one it is often in your best interest to obtain the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense who understands how to best create a strong defense.

No Duty to Register

Individuals in this category are not at risk of re-offense and are also not viewed as a danger to the public. As a result, all of the details about a person in this classification are removed from the Commonwealth’s Sex Offender Registry. Few sex offenders qualify for this category, and individuals who are convicted of certain types of offenses including sexually violent crimes are automatically excluded from this category.

Level 1 Offenders  

Individuals in this category are at a low risk of committing sexual offenses in the future. People who qualify under this category are required to annually submit sex offender registration to the Sex Offender Registry. A degree of privacy is offered to individuals in this category and information about these offenses are not immediately available to the public.

Level 2 Offenders

To qualify as a level 2 offender, a person must be viewed by the law as a moderate risk at repeating the offense. Level 2 offenders are required to re-register annually in person at their local law enforcement station. Details about level 2 offenders are less private than level 1 offenders. Details about the offense that resulted in the classification is kept at police departments and the Sexual Offender Registry Board, but to find out details about the offense, a person must request them in person or by mail.

Level 3 Offenders

Individuals who qualify as level 3 offenders are classified as a high risk for repeating the offense in the future. If you qualify as such an offender, you must re-register annually at your local police station. Details about level 3 offenders have the least degree privacy of all sex offenders. Information about level 3 offenders can be obtain from law enforcement station, the Sex Offender Registry Board, or the internet.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are charged with a criminal offense in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you should not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney who can help create a strong defense. Speak with attorney Edward Molari today to begin taking steps to make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner.

Expunging or Sealing Your Criminal Record in Massachusetts

Statistics reveal that annually there are over 10 million arrests made throughout the United States, which results in millions of people with a permanent criminal record. Unfortunately, a criminal record can have a substantial impact on a person’s career, education, and future goals. Fortunately, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are various ways to expunge or seal records that offer the opportunity to plan for a future without the obstacles created by having a criminal record.

The Expungement Process in Massachusetts

Expungement is a process that “erases” your criminal record. Unfortunately, in Massachusetts, expungement is only offered in a limited set of circumstances, which include situations involving erroneous or wrongful convictions as well as criminal records that are incorrectly made under the wrong identity. During the expungement process, you will petition the court to grant an expungement of your record. To be granted an expungement, you must demonstrate that your record is eligible for expungement. Because the expungement process is particularly complicated, it is often a wise idea to obtain the assistance of a skilled attorney to help you navigate through it..

Sealing Criminal Records in Massachusetts

Sealing a record is not the same as expunging it. When you seal a record, you greatly limit the number of people who are able to access information about your criminal past. As a result, employers who might hire you are unable to see these records. Massachusetts law allows certain cases without a conviction to be sealed. These cases includes situations in which a person was found not guilty by a jury, dismissals without probation, or failure to indict by a grand jury.

Much like the expungement process, sealing a record in Massachusetts involves a complex body of laws, which is why many people find it essential to obtain the assistance of a seasoned attorney.

The way in which records are sealed is divided by the offense’s classification:

  • Juvenile Offenses. Records are allowed to be sealed after a three year waiting period.

  • Misdemeanors. Records are allowed to be sealed five years after you were convicted or completed your sentence.

  • Felonies. Records are allowed to be sealed ten years after you were found guilty or completed your sentence.

To have a record sealed in such a way, a person is prohibited from committed another offense of any type during the waiting period. The process to have a record sealed is similar to how records are expunged in Massachusetts, which is means that it is very helpful to have a knowledgeable lawyer guide you through this process, as well.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are interested in expunging or sealing a criminal record in Massachusetts, you should not hesitate to contact a seasoned attorney who understands the numerous complex laws that control this process. In his years of experience, attorney Edward Molari has helped many people navigate the expungement and record sealing process and he will remain committed to obtaining the results you deserve.  

One-Man Crime Spree in Mansfield

According to The Sun Chronicle, a 27 year old man is set to be arriagned today in the Attleboro District Court on charges of armed robbery while masked, unlawful possession of a firearm, failure to stop for police, and attaching motor vehicle plates.

The report describes a series of offenses beginning with a 2:00 A.M. robbery in Stoughton, which preceded the incidents in Mansfield where the man is alleged to have robbed a convenience store, and tried to carjack a local resident during his attempt to escape.

While searching for the suspect, who was identified as Rosa, Foxboro Police received a telephone call about an attempted carjacking.

Rosa attempted to carjack the Foxboro resident’s vehicle at knife point, police allege, but then fled into nearby woods without taking the vehicle.

Rosa was taken into custody at gunpoint by troopers and Foxboro officers a short time later.

From the description, it would appear that the man will be charged with two counts of armed robbery, at least one of which occurred while maksed, which increases his mandatory minimum to 5 years for the gas station offense.  There is no maximum punishment for robbery, so the maximum sentence for that charge is, at least theoretically, life in prison.  It is almost unheard of for someone to get life in prison for robbery

An important fight in this case will come down to whether the state can make its case on carjacking. First, the fact that he did not succeed in obtaining control of the car is no defense for him, because the carjacking statute (G.L. c. 265, s. 21A) reads as follows:

Whoever, with intent to steal a motor vehicle, assaults, confines, maims or puts any person in fear for the purpose of stealing a motor vehicle shall, whether he succeeds or fails in the perpetration of stealing the motor vehicle be punished . . .

Second, if he was armed at the time, his mandatory minimum goes up to seven years.  Police say they found a gun in the vicinity where he was arrested; and they say he used the gun in the convenience store robbery.  If the carjacking victim cannot say they saw a gun, this may turn into a circumstantial case on the question of whether this man's carjacking charges will carry the 7 year minimum for armed carjacking, or whether he can only be charged with the lesser unarmed carjacking offense that has no mandatory minimum.

 

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Massachusetts Rules on What Constitutes Probable Cause

One of the most common grounds on which individuals in Massachusetts defend against drug charges is when involved law enforcement lacked probable cause for their arrest. 

A state appellate court recently wrote a decision in a drug case concerning whether law enforcement lacked probable cause in obtaining a warrant to search a person’s apartment. The court ultimately ruled that information provided to law enforcement constituted probable cause.

How the Case Arose 

Law enforcement was given information by a confidential informant that the defendant in this case was selling illegal drugs from his apartment. The informant also provided law enforcement with a description of the defendant in addition to his name and address.

Law enforcement later arranged for the informant to purchase drugs from the defendant. After the informant reported that he purchased the drugs from the defendant, law enforcement obtained a search warrant for the defendant’s apartment. After executing the warrant, law enforcement found narcotics as well as paraphernalia.

In a pre-trial motion to suppress, the defendant argued that the search warrant was defective because law enforcement had failed to establish that probable cause existed at the time that the warrant was obtained. In support of his argument, the defendant claimed that law enforcement failed to establish that the man had entered his apartment or obtained the drugs in question from his apartment.     

The Response by the Appellate Court

The appellate court began its opinion by noting that law enforcement is required to establish an informant’s basis of knowledge as well the informant’s veracity (or ability to be trusted) before a valid search warrant can be obtained.

While the defendant acknowledged that law enforcement had satisfied the basis of knowledge prong because the informant had told law enforcement that he had recently purchased cocaine from the defendant, the defendant argued that law enforcement had failed to satisfy the veracity prong of this test. The court then noted that law enforcement is able to establish an informant’s veracity through controlled buys or situations in which the informant purchases drugs from the person suspected of selling drugs.

As previously mentioned, the defendant argued that the buy was improper because law enforcement had failed to watch the informant enter the defendant’s home. The appellate court responded by rejecting the defendant’s argument and held that because law enforcement had watched the informant walk toward the door and return soon after with illegal drugs, it was sufficient enough to constitute probable cause for a warrant to enter and search the defendant’s apartment.   

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with a crime in Massachusetts, one of the best steps to take is to quickly obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Edward Molari is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has helped defend the rights of numerous individuals charged with felony and misdemeanor or drug crimes. Contact our law office today for assistance.

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