Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Boston Police Arrest 29 People in Operation Nor'Easter

Operation Nor'Easter  - Gun and Drug Arrests

The Boston Globe is reporting that 29 people -- including one Boston city employee -- have been arrested and are facing state and federal charges relating to a drug and gun trafficking investigation. Three of the individuals involved have already been indicted by a grand jury. The press release, put out by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office states that the three targets of the investigation are charged with distribution of heroin and distribution of firearms, and are all three charged as habitual offenders.

Under the habitual offender statute, if the defendant has been convicted and sentenced to state prison for not less than three years for two separate offenses in the past, upon a third conviction the defendant cannot be sentenced to less than the maximum state prison sentence provided by law.

Dana Brown and Vito Gray are charged with distribution of a class A substance -- carrying a maximum of 10 years. They allegedly sold 20 and 26 grams of heroin to undercover officers. Since the lowest threshold for trafficking heroin is 18 grams, it is fair to infer that the sales total weight was sold over the course of several transactions (unlike federal court, prosecutions in Massachusetts do not aggregate the weight of all alleged sales). 

According to the press release, Terrell Walker is charged with unlawful sale and possession of a firearm. Unlawful sale of a firearm carries a maximum of 10 years, and unlawful possession carries only 2 years, unless the possession occurred not at home or work (ie. “carrying a firearm”) in which case the maximum is 5 years. Second, third, and fourth offense offenses for carrying a firearm have higher maximum sentences, but the press release does not say that Walker is charged with carrying, nor does it say that the charge is a subsequent offense.

In fact, the press release says that although Walker was previously convicted of murder in the shooting death of a Boston Police Detective, it also says that conviction was overturned on appeal. The press release does say that all three defendants have prior convictions for violent offenses such as robbery, which could possibly subject them to higher maximum sentences and mandatory minimums under the Armed Career Criminal (also known as ACC or 10G) statute, but I have never met a judge or prosecutor who believes it is legal to apply the habitual offender enhancement to an armed career criminal sentencing enhancement, so even though they may face sentences as high as 15 to 20 years, the most those charges could add is 5 years to the 10 year minimum they face as habitual offenders charged with distribution of heroin. 

Make no mistake, 10 or 15 years is a lot of time, but these are prosecutions that the state clearly put a lot of time and effort into. They went as far as to invoke the habitual offender statute. It is remarkable, therefore, that it looks like the real exposure for these defendants is not higher. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth has yet to prove their guilt in court, they are presumed innocent.

The Supreme Court Issues New Ruling on Parked Cars and Warrants

There are some important rules that motor vehicle operators must remember regarding the powers that law enforcement has when it comes to searching motor vehicles.

For many years, it has been established law that law enforcement must have a legitimate reason to stop a driver. In June 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled that protections offered by the Constitution require law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before searching a parked car. This ruling stands in significant contrast to other laws that do not require a permit for law enforcement to closely examine motor vehicles that are parked on public roads.

No matter the exact situation regarding a person’s motor vehicle, it is a wise idea to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have any questions regarding how Massachusetts law applies to protections created by the Fourth Amendment.

The Automobile Exception to the Fourth Amendment

The “automobile exception” to the Fourth Amendment states that in any situation in which law enforcement has probable cause to think that a motor vehicle contains evidence of a crime or any tools used to commit a crime, law enforcement is able to search a vehicle as well as any containers withi it that might contain the items in question.

It is also critical to remember that if the search of an automobile is valid, law enforcement is permitted to tow a vehicle and search it at a later date.

Due to these laws, law enforcement in Massachusetts has been able to justify motor vehicle searches in a number of situations.

The Details of This Case

The case in question arose from a man in Virginia who was convicted of stealing a motorcycle. After conducting a search for an orange and black motorcycle, law enforcement found a similarly-colored motorcycle on Facebook and tracked the vehicle to a private residence. Law enforcement entered the residence in question, lifted the tarp covering the vehicle, and took several photographs.

After the man was arrested, he claimed that the search in question was unconstitutional due to the automobile exception of the Fourth Amendment. The man later appealed his case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

The Rationale Behind the Court’s Decision

In support of the court’s decision, the Supreme Court cited the long-established rule that law enforcement intrudes on the rights of individuals by entering private property and examining a house without looking for evidence.

The rights that are violated in these situations are those granted by the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures and extends to situations involving a person’s home and private property.

In reaching its decision, the Supreme Court also cited a 2013 ruling that held that law enforcement is prohibited from bringing a drug-sniffing canine onto a front porch without first obtaining a search warrant.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

This case involves one of the more complicated decisions involving the Fourth Amendment. While it is important to remember that protections offered by the Constitution now extend to parked motor vehicles, it is still critical to maintain a level of caution regarding how privacy laws apply to automobiles.

If you are charged with any type of criminal offense, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact attorney Edward Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Know Your Massachusetts Firearm Charges

Most people are familiar with the Second Amendment to the United States, which guarantees each individual the right to possess firearms. While the Constitution grants individuals some definite rights regarding firearms, the extent of these laws is not absolute. Instead, each state has the ability to pass laws that regulate and restrict the use of firearms.

If you or a loved one is charged with a firearm violation in Massachusetts, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner. It also helps to understand various firearm laws, which is why this article will review the most common firearm offenses in Massachusetts with which a person can be charged.

Illegally Carrying Firearms

Law in Massachusetts prohibits a person from illegally and knowingly possessing a firearm under certain circumstances. It does not matter whether the firearm is loaded or unloaded. These circumstances include if a person is present in a place of business, lacks a required firearm license, or possesses an illegal weapon.

Being charged with carrying a firearm in these situations can result in a person facing a mandatory sentence of at least 18 months in prison. Given these very strict laws, it is critical that a person who wants to carry a firearm under any circumstances, first makes sure that doing so is not against the law. It is also important if you charged with carrying an illegal firearm to immediately contact a seasoned criminal defense lawyer.

Possession of an Unlicensed Firearm

Massachusetts prohibits a person from possessing a firearm without a license or permit even if the individual only possesses the weapon at home or work.

Violations of these laws can result in a person facing up to two years in prison. As a result, you should make sure to perform adequate research about firearm laws before possessing one, which might include speaking with a seasoned criminal defense attorney.

Illegally Discharging a Firearm

It is important for individuals in Massachusetts to remember that it is illegal to discharge a firearm within 500 feet of any dwelling without first obtaining the permission of the dwelling’s owner.

While this might seem like a small offense, the illegal discharge of a weapon can result in a person facing up to three months in prison. Given the seriousness of these laws, it is important to properly screen an area before discharging a firearm. If you are charged with violating the law in this way, you should not hesitate to speak with a seasoned defense lawyer.  

Carrying a Loaded Firearm While Intoxicated

It is against the law in Massachusetts for a person to carry a loaded firearm on their body or in a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

A penalty of this nature can result in a person facing up to two and a half years in prison in addition to a $5,000 fine. For this reason, it is important to avoid carrying a loaded firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Speak with a Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney

A conviction involving a firearm offense can result in a person facing particularly serious penalties, including large fines and jailtime.

Fortunately, Attorney Edward Molari has significant experience helping individuals create a strong defense against a variety of firearm charges. If you are charged with a firearm-related offense, do not hesitate to contact our law office today for a free case evaluation.

Understanding Vehicular Manslaughter Charges

It is critical to exercise the utmost caution while driving a vehicle. Despite this, each year numerous people are killed due to drivers who operate vehicles in an excessively dangerous manner. Driving a vehicle in a negligent or reckless way can result in serious charges that can significantly disrupt a person’s life.

Individuals who are facing these charges often find it critical to obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney who can make sure that they have a strong legal defense. It is also critical to understand that not all vehicular homicide cases are the same, and the charges a person faces will be influenced by what type of offense a person commits.

Misdemeanor Vehicular Homicide

While people are used to associating the word “misdemeanor” with less serious crimes, a cnonviction for misdemeanor for vehicular homicide in Massachusetts can still result in significant penalties.

A person who is convicted of misdemeanor vehicular homicide can end up facing a minimum of 30 days in jail as well as a potential $3,000 in fines and a 15-year loss of license. For this reason, individuals who face even misdemeanor charges associated with vehicular manslaughter should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Vehicular Homicide Involving Alcohol or Drugs

A person who kills another individual while driving under the influence of alcohol can end up facing vehicular homicide charges.

If a motorist was intoxicated and driving recklessly at the time that a person was killed, that motorist can end up facing felony charges that result in jail time, steep fines, and a minimum license suspension of 15 years.

Because convictions associated with this offense require the prosecution to establish that a person was traveling above the legal limit, a skilled criminal defense attorney is often able to help attack these charges in a number of ways.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Some individuals who kill others while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also end up facing a charge of vehicular manslaughter. This charge is similar to vehicular homicide but involves alcohol or drugs and results in more severe penalties.

A person who is convicted of vehicular manslaughter can end up facing a maximum of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. Given the serious nature of these charges, people who are charged with vehicular manslaughter should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Killing another person with your vehicle can not only be traumatic, it can result in some particularly severe consequences. As a result, if you or a loved one has been charged with vehicular homicide, it is a wise idea to contact an experienced criminal attorney Edward Molari. Contact attorney Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Mashpee Police Investigating Officer Involvement in Fatal Cotuit crash

According to the article in the Cape Cod Times, a high speed chase being pursued by a Mashpee Police Officer resulted in a horrible crash and the death of at least two person, and life threatening injury to another.

Rescuers were called at 12:14 a.m. Saturday to 4782 Falmouth Road, near the intersection of Route 130, to find three people involved in the crash, Barnstable Police Sgt. Jason Laber said.

A Toyota sedan was on fire and split in two with both occupants ejected from the vehicle, according to a statement from Cotuit Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services.

When the officer in purusit was asked for the reason for the high speed chase, he cited "erratic operation, speeding, marked lanes, [and] multiple stop sign violations."

An analysis of the turret tape recording in this case provides reason to believe that the officer involved in the chase is one of the officers involved in a case of mine from 2016 in the Falmouth District Court. That case resulted in the independent investigation of the officer for excessive use of force, and verdicts of not guilty against the indivudual he claimed had assulted him. 

The parties involved cotinue to litigate a claim for damages.

If it is true that this horrible incident involves the same officer, it raises further and grave concerns about his judgement and regard for the safety of those he is employed to serve.

“We are in the early stages of what is going to be a comprehensive and thorough investigation into our involvement of the facts and circumstances leading up to this terrible tragedy,” Mashpee Police Chief Scott Carline said in a release. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the victims and their families at this time.”

Norfolk County Negligent Motor Vehicle Homicide Case

Two people have been indicted in relation with an accident that killed two young pedestirans who were crossing the road.  The Boston Globe article reports that the indictments include motor vehicle homicide, aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, manslaughter, negligent motor vehicle homicide.

Negligent motor vehicle homicide cases are tough because they are essentially nothing more than a negligent operation of a motor vehicle case gone horribly wrong.  There are very few times when someone can go to jail simply for being negligent -- which means failing to exercise the care that a reasonable peson would. Most criminal statutes require "mens rea" or a criminal intent, but negligent motor vehicle homicide is an exception.  Even worse for the defendant in such cases, the fact that the person driving the other car might also have been negligent is not a defense.  Meanwhile, as is the case here, everyone's first thought is with the families who have lost a loved one in the tragedy.

These are difficult cases. They have to be defended carefully and require a lot of attention. The jury has to see who the defendant is, and be persuaded not to jump to the conclusion that just because someone died, and there is someone else sitting in the defendant's chair, that the right thing is to find that person guilty.

Haymarket Drug Arrest by Boston Drug Control Unit

On July 21st, Boston Police Drug Control Unit arrested an employee of the famous open-air Haymarket for using the market as cover for illicit drug sales.  According to the media reports, police observed the defendant make a drug sale behind a dumpste.  The Officers followed him to Haymarket and saw him enter a produce tent where he appeared to be employed. "About an hour later, police allegedly saw another customer do an apparent drug deal with [the defendant] next to the tent."  The officers then arrested the defendant and found "43 bags of heroin weighing approximately 20 grams along with 14 bags of cocaine and $638 in U.S. currency."

Police are only allowed to arrest a person when they have developed "probable cause."  Probable cause is that amount of evidence that would lead a reasonably prudent person to believe that a crime has occurred.  Cases like this one -- where police make an arrest based on nothing more than observing hand to hand transactions -- are dealt with in court by analyzing what the courts call the 'silent movie.'  Basically, the court looks at each movement the officer observed and determines whether, when they are all put together, there is probable cause to arrest.

Usually, the problem for the officers is that they have no way of saying what was being exchanged.  That is, even if the officers can be credited with having seen a hand-to-hand transaction, there is no way for them to say they saw whether it was for a bag of white powder, or a phone, or fresh fruit (for instance). 

If the court finds that the police officer's observations are equally consistent with innocent activity, the arrest is thrown out, along with all the evidence that came from it. In this case, that would mean the heroin and cocaine found on the defendant would be excluded from evidence, and the case would have to be dismissed.

He could also get the $638 back.

Call now for a free confidential consultation if you, or anyone you know, needs the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Masscahusetts Steps Up Drug Crime Investigations

The State Police here in Massachusetts have created a task force along with local and federal authorities that has been targeting high level drug crimes.  The The Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Reduction Enforcement Team (CINRET) has been targeting and arrestig individuals involvedin trafficking fentanyl, cocaine, heroin and associated gun crimes. According to the State Police website:

  • "State Police formed CINRET to identify, investigate and remove violent opiate traffickers from the streets of the Commonwealth. Regional CINRET units were developed as part of the new State Police Division of Homeland Security and Preparedness. The division was created last year by the Baker-Polito Administration to enhance MSP efforts to combat various threats to security in the Commonwealth, including opioid trafficking."

Just a couple of examples

Many of the arrests accompany large seizures of cash subject to forfeiture.  Meanwhile, the Boston and Plymouth County District Attorneys' Offices (the prosecutors) have started routinely filing for civil asset forfeiture in every drug case.  Just this week I have gotten four letters from drug prosecution cases seeking to forfeit the cash that was seized. Some are new cases, but others are over a year old. It looks like there is a move on to get serious about drug prosecutions in Massachusetts.

Some drug cases fall into the laps of the police when people are pulled over for simple traffic infractions and are found to have drugs on them. In other cases police do a more involved investigation, involving the use of informants and controlled drug buys.  CINRET looks like the later. Those cases come with higher stakes, and tend to involve more complicated evidence, but the more complicated a case is, sometimes, the more opportunities to challenge what the police did.

If you, or anyone you know, has been caught up in a drug investigation, contact my office today to find out what an experienced criminal defense attorney can to do challenge the evidence in cases like these.  The consultation is free and confidential.


Potential Defenses to Rape Charges in Massachusetts

Currently, a Brazilian immigrant is being held on charges of rape and assault in Massachusetts, which has resulted in the man being referred to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The man was previously removed from the United States in 2007, but later returned to the country. Law enforcement reports that the man is charged with rape, assault, battery, and soliciting. If the man is found guilty, he will be deported after serving a sentence.

Rape is just one of several sex crimes with which a person in Massachusetts can be charged. Other sex crimes include assault with intent to commit rape, enticement of a child under 16, failure to register as a sex offender, indecent assault and battery, indecent exposure, open and gross lewdness, and possession of child pornography.

If you have been charged with a sex crime in Massachusetts, it is essential to understand that these crimes are taken seriously and can result consequences that forever change a person’s life. One of the best ways to respond to these charges is to obtain the assistance of a skilled attorney who understands how these charges are made and who can help create a strong defense. The strongest defense depends on several factors, including the specific sex crime with which you are charged.

No Sex Crime Occurred

One of the best ways to defend against a sex crime is to argue that the sexual acts in question never occurred between the person being charged and the alleged victim. This defense will only work if evidence can be obtained showing that the alleged victim accused you of a committing a sex crime maclisiouly. If successful, this defense greatly weakens the prosecution’s argument, which relies on establishing that the sex crime in question occurred beyond a reasonable doubt.

Someone Else Committed the Act

In raising this defense, a person acknowledges that a sex crime occurred but argues that he or she is not the person who committed the offense. Many times, this defense relies on arguing that the victim’s memory is faulty and that the person who was charged was falsely identified as a result.

The Sexual Act Occurred but Was Not Criminal

As part of this defense, a person argues that consent was given and as a result, a sex crime did not occur. It is important to note that this defense only works in acts where consent negates the offense, which means that this defense is incapable of being raised in situations where an underaged person is involved.

Obtain the Assistance of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

It is important to note that this article has reviewed just three of the most common defenses to sex crimes and that there are many more potential defenses based on the facts of a case. Our law firm has helped many people facing sex crime charges and knows what it takes to make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law today to schedule an initial free case evaluation.

Understanding OUIs Involving Property Damage


In June of 2018, a driver in Massachusetts struck a telephone pole with his pickup truck which knocked out power for thousands in the area. In addition to the many people left without power, one family was even left stuck in a vehicle that was located under a downed power line. The driver was subsequently charged with an OUI and operating a vehicle without evidence of insurance. The driver’s blood alcohol content is reported to have been twice the legal limit of .08%.

In Massachusetts, a person who drives while intoxicated can end up facing more than an OUI. In many situations, individuals are also charged with hit and run, which frequently occurs when motorists damage property with their motor vehicle and fail to stop at the scene of the damage. It is understandable that many people fail to stop when these accidents occur. Some people flee the scene after causing property damage out of fear of being charged with an OUI. Other individuals fail to even notice that they have caused property damage. As a result, if you are a motorist facing this charge, one of the best steps that you can take is obtain the assistance of a skilled OUI/ attorney who understands these charges and who can help you create a strong response.

The Penalties Associated with Property Damage

If you cause property damage, you can end up facing serious charges no matter if you are sober or not. If convicted of leaving the scene of property damage, you can be charged a fine of up to $200 as well as a maximum of two years in jail. A person will also experience a license revocation.

To convict you of this offense, the prosecution will be required to prove that:

  • You were the operator of the vehicle at the time the accident occurred

  • The vehicle was operated on a public road or any other place that the public has right of access

  • Your operation of the car caused the collision

  • You knew you had caused the property damage, and

  • You failed to stop to provide contact information to the property owner.

How to Respond if You Cause Property Damage

If you have been drinking and driving and caused property damage as a result, it is critical to know how to respond. You should remember to stay calm, get out of your vehicle, and exchange information with the other driver. Under no means should you attempt to drive away from the scene of the accident.

If you happen to hit property and no one is around, the best idea is to wait to see if the property owner returns. If after several hours pass and no one has shown up, you still should not drive off but should attempt to locate the property owner by going to the closest building where the person might be found. While acknowledging that the accident occurred with the property’s owner, a person should avoid discussing any issues in relation to fault.

Speak with a Seasoned Criminal Defense Lawyer

When people face charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, they should quickly obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law today for help. We will remain committed to fighting for the results you deserve.