Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

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.

 

What You Should Know About Theft Charges in Massachusetts

Recently, a woman in Massachusetts was arrested twice in relation to two separate incidents in Boston involving theft. The woman was first arrested and charged with shoplifting in Boston Municipal Court after she allegedly stole several items from a CVS. When a CVS worker confronted the woman, she responded by striking him with her purse. The women then grabbed more items and ran from the store. Later, after reviewing surveillance video, law enforcement officers patrolling the area found the woman and arrested her. At the Boston Police District station, the woman was spotted reaching through safety glass to grab a purse. When the woman was caught attempting to squeeze the purse through a hole in the partition, law enforcement placed the woman under arrest for causing a disturbance.

Theft in Massachusetts is classified as a serious offense that can have a significant impact on your career, educational pursuits, and many other aspects of your daily life. As a result, people who are charged with theft in Massachusetts should not hesitate to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. It is also helpful to understand the various Massachusetts theft laws.

Larceny in Massachusetts

Massachusetts considers theft a form of larceny, which is the act of taking someone’s property without permission. While this concept might be easy to understand, it is comprehensive and includes many different types of offenses. Some of the most common acts that constitute larceny in Massachusetts include burglary, credit card fraud, embezzlement, larceny by false pretenses, larceny by theft, receiving stolen property, and shoplifting. In each of these charges, the prosecution must establish that a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, individuals are often able to create strong defenses to the charges by arguing that law enforcement has failed to meet this burden.

Grand and Petty Theft

The value of the property that is stolen determines whether it is classified as grand or petty theft. While petty theft is a misdemeanor and includes stolen property worth less than $250, grand theft is a felony and encompasses the theft of an item worth more than $250. Grand theft can result in particularly severe penalties including up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000.

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when a person uses someone else’s identifying information including birth date, driver’s license number, social security number, or bank account number to engage in financial transactions or receive any service. This crime often involves accessing a person’s financial accounts, but can include many other acts.

Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Some of the other larceny-related offenses with which a person in Massachusetts can be charged include burglary, robbery, and receiving stolen property. No matter the specific offense, the potential penalties are often severe. Our legal counsel has helped defend many people who face serious crimes including theft. To make sure that you have the strongest defense possible, contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law today to schedule a free case evaluation. We understand your rights and are prepared to fight for them.

Dropping Disorderly Conduct Charges

Disorderly conduct charges are one of the most common offenses faced by individuals in Massachusetts because these charges can arise in a number of situations ranging from late night disputes to bar fights. Many times, disorderly conduct charges arise from relatively minor offenses but the penalties can still be significant, particularly when a person has previously been charged with the crime. As a result, many people who are charged with disorderly conduct find it particularly helpful to obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney.

What Constitutes Disorderly Conduct?

Massachusetts defines disorderly conduct as engaging in any type of noisy behavior, fighting, creating excessive noise, or any other form of disruptive conduct. Laws in the state of Massachusetts define disorderly conduct as including annoying another individual with offensive or threatening behavior, disturbing the peace, engaging in lewd behavior of speech in a public area, indecent exposure, participating in a riot and refusing to disperse, and prostitution.

Disorderly conduct charges are rarely made against actions that occur inside a person’s house, but if conduct that occurs in a house ends up in a public area, then a person could still end up facing disorderly conduct charges?

People also often wonder how the “freedom of speech” right afforded by the United States Constitution’s First Amendment applies to disorderly conduct. Sometimes, words fall outside of the protection offered by the Constitution. “Fighting words” or words that provoke people to violence are capable being a form of disorderly conduct. Using swear words alone, however, does not constitute disorderly conduct.

If a person is convicted of disorderly conduct for the first time, he or she will likely be required to only pay a fine. Subsequent convictions, however, can result in individuals facing both fines and a maximum of six months in jail. Additionally, individuals might receive probation as part of their sentencing requirement.

Common Defenses to Charges of Disorderly Conduct

There are a variety of defenses available to respond to charges of disorderly conduct. A person is often able to argue self defense if the disorderly conduct in question was done so that the person could protect him or herself. If the disorderly conduct charge was related to making unreasonable noise, a person is sometimes able to argue that he or she had the right to do so. Also, in disorderly conduct charges, individuals are sometimes able to point out that the conduct in question is only disagreeable if it occurred in public and the offense in question actually occurred in a private area. A Massachusetts criminal defense attorney is often able to analyze a person’s case and determine how to best respond.

Speak with a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with disorderly conduct or any other offense, it is a wise idea to quickly contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, has experience helping individuals navigate disorderly conduct charges and either drop or greatly reduce the penalties associated with these charges. Contact our law office today to schedule an initial free consultation.

Defending Against Sex Crime Charges

Our law firm has defended numerous clients who have been charged with sex crimes. While these laws have been in place for quite some times, these cases are occurring in greater numbers, and given the strength of the current #MeToo movement, they are taken increasingly seriously. If you or a loved one is charged with a sex crime in the state of Massachusetts, it is a wise idea to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the various defenses that can be raised in these cases.

Defense # 1: Innocence

If a person absolutely did not commit the sexual offense in question, the defense will likely involve arguing that the defendant is innocent. These defenses most often involve proving that a person was in another location at the time that the offense occurred. Some of the evidence that is used to prove this point includes financial statements, pictures, and surveillance footage. Sometimes, these defenses are based on establishing that the victim misidentified the person being charged as the perpetrator of the crime.

Defense # 2: The Victim Consented

These defenses involve establishing that the sexual offense in question occurred after the alleged victim provided consent. Establishing consent, however, is often difficult because these cases frequently depend on “he said, she said” arguments rather than any type of evidence. It is also important to note that if the victim was underage, consent is unable to be used as a defense.

Defense # 3: Mental Incapacitation

If the person being charged with the offense has a mental health issue that prevents him or her from appreciating the nature of the act, a defense involving mental incapacity can often be made. Medical professionals are often required in these situations to establish that a person is mentally incapacitated.

Defense # 4: False Memory Syndrome

False memory syndrome occurs when a person is unable to remember the details about a traumatic event. Establishing that a memory is false can be challenging. Either evidence or eyewitnesses must be presented to show that a person’s memory does not conform to the facts of the case.

Defense # 5: Challenging the Forensic Evidence Presented

Prosecution will often rely on DNA samples from the victim as well as the person charged with the crime. Any defects in this material can be used as part of a movement for suppressing this evidence. If enough evidence can be weakened, it is sometimes possible to establish that prosecution has failed to even prove that the event occurred.

Defense # 6: Motivations by the Accuser

In some sex offense cases, the person who alleged that a crime occurred might have a personal motive to make accusations against the party being charged. Sometimes, it is possible to introduce evidence to establishe an improper relationship between the two individuals.

Speak with a Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one faces charges relating to a sexual offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Speak Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law today to schedule an initial free consultation during which time we will review the various available legal strategies and defenses for your case.

What is Melanie’s Law?

In 2005, the state of Massachusetts began to recognize the offense of child endangerment while operating a vehicle under the influence. The state of Massachusetts more commonly refers to this offense as Melanie’s Law. In addition to fines, the loss of a driver’s license, and time in prison, this offense can also result in serious obstacles in a person’s career and education as well as the social stigma of being branded as a drunk driver. If you are charged with child endangerment while OUI, it is critical to quickly obtain the services of a seasoned criminal defense attorney.

Laws Regarding OUI and Child Endangerment

If you are charged with OUI with child endangerment, the prosecution must establish two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. One, it must be shown that a person was operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Two, it must established that the a child under the age of 14 was inside the vehicle at the time of operation.

Chapter 90 Section 24v of Massachusetts law lists the various penalties a person can face for child endangerment with OUI. For a first offense, a person faces a minimum of 90 days in jail and a fine between $1,000 to $5,000 as well as a driver’s license suspension of one year. For a second or additional offense, a person faces a maximum of two and a half years jail or five years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000 as well as driver’s license suspension for three years.

Involvement by the Department of Children and Families

If the children involved in the offense are the driver’s children (and often when the children are not), the state’s Department of Children and Families is likely to become involved if it believes it is in the child’s best interests to be placed in a foster home.

Defending Against OUI Child Endangerment Charges

There are numerous ways in which strong defenses can be raised in response to charges of OUI child endangerment. Sometimes, defenses can be raised that because law enforcement forgot to obtain information about the children involved in the offense, prosecution is unable to establish that the offense even occurred. Other defenses rely on arguing that prosecution cannot establish an OUI offense, which is required for a charge of OUI with child endangerment to stand. To establish that a person was intoxicated, law enforcement will rely on several different types of evidence including the odor of alcohol, glassy and bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and field sobriety tests. If this evidence can be weakened, a person’s chances of successfully defending the case increase significantly.

Speak with an Experienced OUI Lawyer

If you or a loved one is charged with child endangerment with OUI, immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law today to schedule an initial free consultation. Our firm has helped many individuals who have faced similar situations and we understand what it takes to make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner.

Massachusetts Passes Laws Changing Drug Distribution Charges

In April 2018, Governor Baker signed into law a new bill that significantly changed several aspects of criminal law in Massachusetts. These laws were largely instituted to keep individuals out of prison. One of the areas that was impacted by these changes is drug distribution in the state.

What the New Laws Include

The new laws impact how Massachusetts handles drug cases, which include the following:

  • Heroin: In accordance with these new laws, it is no longer a crime to simply be in the presence of heroin. While the consequences of committing heroin and opioid offenses have increased in severity, individuals no longer face penalties for just being in the presence of the drug.

  • Mandatory minimum: Prior to these new Massachusetts laws, certain drug distribution charges resulted in a mandatory amount of time in jail. The new Massachusetts laws, however, have removed this requirement. Instead, there is now more discretion in how to penalize individuals charged with these offenses. As a result, required prison sentences for the distribution of cocaine, methamphetamines, and PCP have been removed. Required prison sentences for second offense distribution charges of B, C, and D class drugs have also been removed. Additionally, the required prison sentences for charges related to the sale of drug paraphernalia have also been removed.

  • School Zones: Another recent change is that the penalties connected to distribution of drugs in a school zone have been significantly limited. These penalties now only apply when individuals are charged with distributing drugs in a school zone between the hours of 5:00 am to 12:00 AM, when use of a firearm or violence occurs, drugs are sold to minor, or coercion is involved in the sale of drugs.

  • Synthetic opioids: In response to the national opioid epidemic, Massachusetts has passed new laws concerning how charges related to these drugs are handled. One change is that many varieties of carfentanil and fentanyl have been reclassified from “Class B” to “Class A” drugs. Penalties associated with “Class A” offenses frequently result in more severe penalties than drugs that have Class B to D classifications. The law has also been revised to include synthetic opioids where this type of medication was previously excluded.

Understanding Drug Distribution Charges

Distribution of a controlled substance in the state of Massachusetts occurs when law enforcement has probable cause to establish that an individual participated in a transaction in which an illegal substance was given to another individual. The amount of drugs involved does not play a role in these cases, which means that an individual could end up facing a conviction for an offense involving a small amount of the controlled substance. A similar charge, possession with intent to distribute, occurs when the prosecution establishes that a person merely had the intent to trade illegal drugs.

Obtain the Services of a Skilled Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one faces any type of drug charge in the state of Massachusetts, it is a wise idea to obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney who will remain committed to making sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law today for assistance.

Defending Against Massachusetts Shoplifting Charges

While many people view shoplifting as a minor type of crime, the crime can result in a person facing some significant penalties, including fines, jail time, probate, and a criminal record that greatly affects career and educational goals. For this reason, people who are charged with shoplifting often find it critical to obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney.

Laws in Massachusetts About Shoplifting

It is important to understand what shoplifting in the state of Massachusetts includes. By law, the offense is comprised of several acts including altering or changing price tags, concealing merchandise in a retail establishment, moving merchandise into different containers, and taking possession of merchandise without paying.

The exact penalties that a person faces in relationship to shoplifting depend on the value of the goods that were stolen. If a person shoplifts items that are valued at less than $100, he or she can end up facing fines of up to $250. If a person shoplifts goods up to $100 with one previous offense, the individual can end up facing a fine of up to $500. If a person shoplifts goods up to $100 with two or more previous offenses, the individual can end up facing two years of prison and a fine of up to $500. If you shoplift goods valued at $100 or over, you can end up facing two and a half years in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. In addition to these penalties, a store merchant can also sue a shoplifter for damages of up to $500.

Defenses to Shoplifting Charges

The state of Massachusetts offers pretrial diversion programs to individuals who are charged with either first time or low level offenses. The terms of diversion programs often require a person to make restitution and complete other requirements, including community service or probation. Creating a strong defense to a charge of shoplifting often requires a person to weaken the prosecution’s case by weakening the evidence being used to support the charge.

A large number of successful shoplifting defenses involve proving that a person lacked the intent to shoplift, which means that the individual forgot to pay or mistakenly took an item and immediately returned it. Prosecution will often use video footage to establish that an offense occurred, which means that it is sometimes possible to argue mistaken identity. If prosecution decides to use witness testimony, it can be argued that the witnesses being used are either biased or unreliable.

It is important to remember that a defense is stronger the sooner a person is able to initiate the defense. This is why after being charged with shoplifting, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands your case and will work to have matters dismissed, your sentence reduced, or your record expunged.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is charged with shoplifting in Massachusetts, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law today to schedule an initial free consultation.

Recent Changes in Massachusetts OUI Law

 

In April of 2018, Governor Baker signed a bill into law which made several significant changes to various elements of the Massachusetts Criminal Justice System. One of the changes created by this new law regards individuals in Massachusetts who are charged with OUI (operating under the influence). The motivation to sign these various new laws was to help to reduce the number of individuals who are sent to prison. In reality, though, many of these changes will create additional obstacles in OUI cases, it is more important than ever that individuals who are charged with these offenses obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Increased Penalties for Some OUI Offenses

The new Massachusetts law increases the penalties for an individual who is convicted of five or more OUI offenses. While a fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth OUI conviction will now result in a required prison sentence of two and a half years as well as a $2,000 fine, a ninth or subsequent conviction will result in a person facing a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of at least $2,000.

New Law Involving Intoxicating Fumes

Before this new law, Massachusetts law stated that OUIs could be based on allegations of an individual who was under the influence of three substances - alcohol, ingested drugs, or the vapors of glue. The new Massachusetts law, however, replaces the vapors of glue category with the fumes of any substances that has the ability to release toxic vapors. As a result, a person can face penalties if he or she operates a vehicle while intoxicated from any type of toxic vapors.

Pre-Trial Detention for Motorists Charged with OUI Third Offenses

For motorists who are charged with a third OUI conviction, new Massachusetts law explains that prosecutors are now allowed to seek pre-trial detention on the basis of a perceived danger to either an individual or the surrounding community. Previously, detention was only capable of being initiated if a person had three previous OUI convictions.

Reduced Standard for Waiver in First Offender OUI Programs

Individuals who are required to attend an OUI first offenders program will now have an easier time obtaining a waiver for the charges associated with these programs. Before this new law, a judge was only able to waive the charge for these programs if the person required to attend the program could establish significant hardship in paying this amount. The new standard in obtaining waivers is if requiring the person to pay the amount would experience substantial financial hardship.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

These various changes to Massachusetts law mean that it will harder to make sure that an OUI case resolves in a positive manner. As a result, if you are charged with OUI in the state of Massachusetts, it is a wise idea to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer like Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law. Speak with our office today to schedule an initial free consultation.

 

 

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