Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

What is An Accessory After or Before the Fact?

Due to raids of a Norton apartment and a Quincy location, state law enforcement comments that they seized nearly $100,000, a firearm, and many drugs belonging to an individual who was recently in a fatal Taunton car crash. 

The raid happened at the apartment where the man resided with his girlfriend and suspected drug trafficking accomplice who kept many drugs, including fentanyl. The girlfriend, who does not have a criminal record, has since been arraigned on charges.

The man was held without bail and faces various charges, including manslaughter due to the car crash. 

Our criminal defense lawyers appreciate the challenges faced by people who are charged with accessories in connection to a crime. During the entire criminal law process, our attorneys will explain your rights and the various legal options.

Any individual who facilitates a crime can be classified as an accessory in Massachusetts. A person is viewed as an accessory before the fact if that individual in any way helps the principal actor who committed the felony offense. As the names suggest, one refers to helping before a criminal offense, and the other is for helping a principal after the crime has already been committed. When defending people who are charged as accessories to a crime, various elements must be considered, including where the offense occurred and the severity of the offense.

What it Means to Be an Accessory to a Crime

The law states that an accessory cannot be charged without the principal actor also being charged. This approach, however, has evolved over time. Lawmakers in Massachusetts rejected this approach and wrote into law that even if the principal is not facing charges, an accessory can still receive a conviction. People who are charged as accessories should receive charges in the county where the crime was committed rather than where they provided help.

The Elements of Being Convicted as an Accessory

During a trial, it is a good idea to establish various elements to prove that a person is an accessory. These elements include the following:

  • A felony must be shown to have been committed. The crime must be based on the notion that a felony was committed, which must be shown during the trial.
  • The prosecution must establish that the defendant intended to help in the crime’s concealment or commission. The law recognizes that it is possible for an innocent party to inadvertently assist a guilty party in the commission of a crime without appreciating the consequences of his actions.
  • The act committed by the accessory must have either helped with the crime’s commission or concealment. An exception exists for people who are an accessory after the fact.

Speak With a Drug Crime Defense Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one is facing a drug charge, one of the best things that you can do is promptly obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact Attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

Should You Talk to the Police?

A man in Melrose was recently arrested after a shooting that injured two individuals. The man now faces various charges, including armed assault, assault and battery, and possessing a firearm without a license.  

The man’s arrest occurred following a several-agency investigation. Law enforcement on the scene soon located two individuals who had incurred gunshot wounds to the legs.

Following the shooting, the investigation quickly revealed the man as allegedly committing the crimes. The man’s arrest occurred without incident.

Remember Your Fifth Amendment Rights

Under the Fifth Amendment, no individual can be compelled in a criminal case to be a witness against themselves. Consequently, you should never speak to law enforcement without first speaking with your lawyer. Law enforcement is skilled at obtaining admissions from parties who have been arrested. If you are an innocent party, law enforcement will utilize various inconsistencies in your statements to show your guilt.

For example, the police might take statements out of context or misinterpret what you said. Anything you say can be used against you later on in a court of law to prove your guilt. 

Many times, the police will spend hours interrogating you and examining the details of your case before writing down a few critical sentences they remember you saying. Law enforcement has been known to paraphrase comments. The best course of action is to say nothing and ask for a lawyer. 

Why You Should Not Speak to Police Without a Lawyer

When you speak to the police without an attorney present, you likely do not know every criminal law and statute, criminal procedure, evidence law, and case interpretation. While you might think that you are escaping an arrest by talking to law enforcement, you might be inadvertently admitting to a criminal offense you did not know you committed.

Not speaking to law enforcement does not make you look guilty. Instead, not speaking to the police will make you look smart. You have a constitutional right to an attorney, and you should assert this right. After you retain a lawyer, the attorney will act as a buffer between you and law enforcement. Your attorney's job is to ensure you do not say or do anything to hurt your case. 

If a law enforcement officer asks you about a crime, you should tell the officer politely that you would like to assert your right to remain silent and that you would like an attorney. If you state these two things, the pressure that law enforcement puts on you to speak goes away, and they cannot ask you additional questions. 

After you retain a criminal defense lawyer, they will likely promptly contact the police and tell them that the lawyer now represents you. The attorney will then discuss the investigation and receive all of the crucial details about what is going on. While each case is unique, a skilled defense lawyer can help you navigate the various issues that arise during the introduction of criminal charges and the pursuit of a conviction.

Speak With a Compassionate Firearm Defense Lawyer

Following a criminal charge, no matter the offense, one of the best things you can do is obtain the assistance of an experienced attorney. Contact Attorney Edward R. Molari today.

Helpful Advice on Responding to Drug Charges

A believed fentanyl and crack cocaine trafficker is being held without bail after law enforcement stated that they discovered over 50 bags containing drugs in the man’s backpack. The man was arrested and charged in municipal court with carrying a firearm without a license, trafficking the involved drugs, illegal possession of ammunition, and other charges connected to drugs and firearms. 

The trafficker was arrested after he engaged in a drug sale with an undercover law enforcement officer. A search of the man’s backpack revealed a .22 Taurus pistol that held nine rounds in addition to fentanyl, crack cocaine, Gabapentin, cannabis, and $8,994. While crack cocaine and fentanyl are commonly abused drugs, Gabapentin is less commonly abused. Gabapentin is not a federally controlled medication. Instead, Gabapentin is a non-opioid medication used to treat people who have epilepsy as well as other nerve disorders or pain.

The county’s district attorney stated that the man must be prosecuted because he is a risk to public safety. The trafficker was just one of 31 individuals who was arrested on charges of drug trafficking in the drug market that surrounds the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard since the start of June 2022. Almost 50 summonses for drug charges in the same area have also been made.  

The case’s judge found the trafficker dangerous, which means that the man can be held for a maximum of 120 days. After this period, bail is fixed at $25,000, and the man would be required to wear a GPS tracker and stay away from the intersection where the arrest occurred. 

The Prevalence of Drug Charges in Massachusetts

The country is currently facing a crackdown on the over-prescription of opioids. The medication has been classified as an “opportunistic” drug of abuse. The pills are referred to as either “gabbies” or “johnnies” and are utilized to enhance the impact of opioid drugs. The impact of these drugs, however, can make it difficult to breathe and lower opioid tolerance levels. The use of these drugs has resulted in several states listing the medication as a controlled substance, while another 12 states, including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, have listed the drug in programs involving prescription drug monitoring. 

What to Do if Stopped by Law Enforcement With Drugs on You

If you are stopped by law enforcement with drugs on you, there are several important pieces of advice that you must remember to follow. This advice includes:

  • Avoid running or attempting to escape law enforcement. This often only leads to additional charges.
  • Make sure your hands stay out of your pockets. Putting your hands in your pockets is likely viewed by law enforcement as suspicious behavior, which will likely elevate the chances that law enforcement searches your pockets. 
  • Be as polite as possible to the law enforcement officer. Also, do your best to follow the orders given by law enforcement. 
  • Never give law enforcement permission to search your vehicle or your house.
  • Never admit to anything. Instead, exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when questioned by law enforcement.

Speak With an Experienced Drug Crime Defense Lawyer

Drug charges in Massachusetts can be brought in various ways. If you or a loved one is charged with a drug offense in Massachusetts, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will fight to make sure your rights are protected. Contact Attorney Edward R. Molari today for assistance.  

Avoiding False Statements When Questioned by Law Enforcement

A man in the Holyoke area was arrested recently for illegally possessing machine guns as well as owning unregistered firearms and providing false statements to law enforcement.  

Several ATF and FBI were investigating a home in Holyoke when the house’s owner was taken into questioning. The man was later arrested for illegal possession of several unregistered silencers, firearms, and magazines, as well as over 40 conversion devices and forced reset triggers that are listed as machine guns under existing federal law.

Some of the forced reset triggers and conversion devices located at the man’s home include a PTR Industries firearm, an Imperial Arms Company firearm, a Sig Sauer firearm, an Intratec firearm, a Glock machine gun, and forced reset triggers manufactured by Rare Breed, Tommy Triggers.

The indictment states the man provided false statements to federal law enforcement, including that all of the firearms at the man’s residence belonged to his son and girlfriend. The man also commented that he never requested his girlfriend or son purchase firearms.

Response by the Prosecution

A U.S. attorney involved in the case stated that firearms are deadly weapons and that strict requirements exist involving the licensure and registration of firearms. In addition to unlawfully possessing unregistered firearms, the lawyer also stated that the man is believed to have had a stockpile of both conversion devices and machine guns. Weapons of this kind, the lawyer commented, threaten the safety of the community.

Advice on Avoiding False Statement Charges

Many people end up giving false information to law enforcement because they are not certain about what they can and cannot say when questioned by law enforcement. If law enforcement shows up at your house, you should remember to follow some critical advice:

  • You are not obligated to answer any question that a law enforcement officer asks, even if they have a warrant to arrest you.
  • You are not required to let law enforcement into your home unless they can show you a valid search warrant. If law enforcement states they have a search warrant, you have the constitutional right to see the warrant before letting law enforcement into your residence. Although you should cooperate if you are shown a warrant, you are still not legally obligated to give law enforcement your name. 
  • Guests in your home are also not obligated to tell law enforcement who they are. If law enforcement tries arresting this individual, however, the person might have an interest in giving law enforcement their identity to prevent wrongful arrest.
  • If you do not want to identify yourself to law enforcement, say something like “I want to remain silent” or “I’d like to remain silent until I speak to my lawyer.” After asserting this Fifth Amendment right, you are not obligated to answer anything that law enforcement asks you. 
  • If you are placed under arrest, law enforcement can bring additional charges against you if you give them a false name or other false identifiers like your date of birth, social security number, or home address. 

Obtain the Assistance of a Firearm Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one is charged with a sex crime offense in Massachusetts, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced attorney. Contact attorney Edward R Molrai today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

IP Addresses and Criminal Cases in Massachusetts

A man in Royalston was recently arrested after imagery involving child sex abuse was traced over the wifi of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The man was arrested after investigators claimed that he distributed the images over the medical center’s wifi, which can be used by the public.  

The man was charged with one count of possessing child pornography. Following arraignment, the man was held pending a detention hearing. The charging documents for the case identified the IP address of a device distributing child sex abuse content through peer-to-peer communications and decided that the device was utilizing the public wifi available at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which is located on Main Street in Leeds. Additional surveillance determined that the man was both the owner and user of the device in question. 

A search of the suspect’s residence was later performed. A laptop, a cell phone, and an external hard drive at the residence were all determined to contain child sex abuse imagery. 

The Function of IP Addresses

Any technological equipment that accesses the internet has an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Some IP providers rely on static IP addresses that remain the same every time you connect to the internet on the device, while devices utilize dynamic IP addresses that change each time you access the internet on the device. Websites that a person visits record that individual’s IP address as well as the time of the visit. Similarly, internet service providers (ISPs) retain a log of internet activity. Even if your equipment has a dynamic IP address, the ISP holds onto a record of IP addresses assigned to you.

IP Addresses are Not Identifiable Features

Judges have routinely stated that IP addresses cannot be utilized to identify a person who has committed a criminal offense. IP addresses are not considered the same as social security numbers or physical things like fingerprints. Instead, IP addresses are better thought of like zip codes. IP addresses connect equipment to a group of people. Furthermore, people who share a hotspot often share IP addresses.

Tracking IP addresses connected with an individual over time can provide law enforcement with a detailed description of a person’s whereabouts, however. In various situations, IP addresses do not personally identify anything. For example, this is often the case when an IP address connects to dozens of computers at public locations like universities or coffee shops. In these situations, IP addresses are often best thought of as clues. 

As a result, IP addresses do not equate to probable cause that a person has committed a criminal offense. Instead, search warrants executed solely based on an IP address have a substantial likelihood of wasting a law enforcement officer’s time as well as the resources of that agency. 

Contact a Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime in Massachusetts, you should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of a skilled defense lawyer. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

Things You Should (and Should Not) Do When Interacting With Police

More than a dozen people were recently arrested in a firearm and drug seizure that occurred following investigations by two separate agencies in Springfield. Springfield police stated that over the last few weeks, investigators have performed surveillance at the High St. and School St. corridors to catch activity involving drug dealing and firearm dealing as well as prostitution. 

One man was arrested on a warrant for firearms and drug trafficking charges, while another man was arrested on a firearm warrant. A third man allegedly tried to evade the police, and a chase ensued. At one point, the man attempted to trip an officer and reached into his fanny pack. When law enforcement told him to stop, the man dropped his fanny pack and attempted to flee. A loaded gun and Massachusetts ID were later found in the fanny pack.

Trying to trip a police officer is obviously not a good idea. Interacting with law enforcement can be difficult, and these situations tend to escalate quickly. It is vital to know your rights as well as what a police officer can require of you during these encounters.

You are Allowed to Protect Yourself During a Police Encounter

The things that you say to law enforcement matter. Everything you say can be used against you later on if you face criminal charges. For this reason, you have the right to say nothing. To assert this right, you should simply tell law enforcement that you would like to remain silent.

You need not consent to a search of yourself, your vehicle, or your house. In New York City, law enforcement is required to let you know when they request your consent to a search and to inform you that you have the right to say no. If you consent to a search, it can impact your rights later in court. If law enforcement states that they have a warrant to search a premise, you should make sure to ask to see it. If law enforcement does not have a warrant, you should not consent to a search.

Avoid interfering or obstructing the police because this can lead to your arrest.

What to Do if You are Stopped by the Police

Law enforcement can stop you so long as reasonable suspicion exists that you either committed, are committing, or are about to commit a criminal offense. During this time, you should request if you are free to leave. Avoid saying anything bad about the police or attempting to run away, even if you believe what is happening is not reasonable because this could result in your arrest.

Contact a Drug Defense Attorney

Following drug arrests in Massachusetts, one of the best things that you can do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Responding to Charges of Possessing a Firearm

Over a dozen men are accused of offering firearms or money in exchange for sex. These charges arise after an undercover law enforcement sting in Boston. Over the course of one night, Boston police officers posing as prostitutes caught 13 men from throughout the country who agreed to pay for sex with firearms. These men are facing charges relating to prostitution and firearm possession. A conviction on charges of firearm possession can come with serious penalties, including time in jail and hefty fines.

Three Defenses to Possession of a Firearm

If you or a loved one is charged with possession of a firearm, there are some defenses that you can raise in response. Consider some of the following ways that people defend against possession of firearm charges:

  • With the momentary possession defense, the person charged with the offense admits that they had a firearm, but that the weapon was only in their possession for a short time until they could get rid of the firearm.

  • A justifiable possession defense requires the defendant to acknowledge that they had a firearm for a justifiable reason. Defendants may claim that they took the firearm from a person who was in the act of committing a criminal offense.

  • Sometimes, a felon is charged with possessing a firearm after law enforcement locates a weapon through a property seizure. Law enforcement is only permitted to search a person or property when they have a lawful search warrant. If no warrant exists, the search must be one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement. If police confiscate a firearm during an unlawful seizure or search, the defense can use this to raise a motion to suppress evidence. Remember, the Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Contact a Firearm Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is charged with a crime related to firearm possession in Massachusetts, you should speak with an experienced attorney. Contact Attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

What Makes Ghost Guns So Dangerous?

Two men in Massachusetts who possessed ghost guns were sentenced to prison on drug and firearm charges in August of 2022. The men were sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve three years at a facility after pleading guilty to the possession of ghost guns as well as illegal drugs. The Superior Court Justice sentenced the defendants to three years of jail time followed by seven years of probation.

The Attorney General commented that guns without serial numbers have become a preferred weapon for drug dealers and violent criminals due to their untraceable nature. These guns also do not require a background check to purchase. These firearms can be easily produced from kits that can be bought cheap on the internet. 

Ghost Guns Growing More Common

Most law enforcement agencies have commented that approximately 30% or more of the firearms that are recovered after being used in crimes are privately manufactured firearms.

Privately manufactured firearms, or ghost guns, are produced outside of the regulatory framework, which means that these firearms do not have serial numbers and are not capable of being traced by law enforcement if used in a criminal offense.

To combat the use of ghost guns, law enforcement has begun to consider strategies that make it more difficult to purchase ghost guns and ammunition. For law enforcement to intervene and do something about ghost guns, they need to know that the firearms exist. Ghost guns are not always traceable, though. This makes it challenging for law enforcement to do something about these firearms.

Ghost guns are often made from kits. Elements from these guns are then created on 3D printers and lack serial numbers. Because these guns are not regulated, the guns can be acquired without undergoing a criminal background check.

No requirements exist for placing serial numbers on firearms made at someone’s residence. The guns are fairly easy to assemble. Typically, gun purchases at gun stores run from $500 to $700, while ghost guns can be purchased for around $350, making them much more accessible.

To crack down on ghost guns, the Biden administration passed a measure recently addressing ghost guns by creating a law that requires all gun kits to have serial numbers printed on gun parts that are sold online.

Contact a Firearm Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is charged with an offense related to a ghost gun or another type of weapon, one of the best things that you can do is contact an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney. Contact Attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

SJC Rules Blood Alcohol Tests from Hospital Inadmissible in OUI Prosecutions without Defendant's Consent

The SJC ruled today that where a defendant is charged with OUI and taken to a hospital, the Commonwealth cannot use the blood alcohol tests performed there unless they were done with the consent of the person being charged. 

Frequently, police initiate an OUI investigation where a vehicle has been in an accident and the driver is injured. It is common, in such cases, for police to transport the driver to the hospital for treatment instead of taking them to the station.  When they do so, it is not possible to obtain a breathalyzer test. Police frequently note in their report that blood testing is done at the hospital, and seek to admit those testing results at trial to show the person's blood alcohol level.

This is particularly important because when police make an OUI arrest after a single car accident, there is usually very little or no evidence of the way the person was driving, other than the fact that they were in an accident.  An accident alone does not demonstrate that someone was operating negligently, nor that they were operating in a way that is indicative of intoxication.

The SJC today ruled that because G.L. c. 90, s. 24 only allows the introduciton of blood tests conducted with the consent of the defendant, the hospital records in the cases described above are inadmissible.  If the operator is placed under arrest prior to being transported to the hospital, their refusal to consent may result in a loss of license for between 180 days and lifetime, and in any case police will routinely petition for an immediate threat suspension of the license for any person involved in an accident where suspected drugs or alcohol are involved, but under the decision today, unless the person consents to the blood testing conducted at the hospital, the terms of G.L. c. 90, s. 24 preclude the introduction in evidence of the results of those tests.

See Commonwealth v. Moreau, SJC-13168 (2022)

The Differences Between Active and Open Warrants

Law enforcement recently arrested 34 individuals in a drug sweep in Brockton. The complaint came from Brockton residents and necessitated that officers go undercover. While over 40 individuals were identified, more than 34 people were arrested and now face charges related to selling drugs, open warrant violations, and trafficking drugs. Massachusetts law enforcement has commented that they are not targeting users, but are focused on working their way up by identifying drug trafficking organizations and beginning to disrupt their efforts. 

Law enforcement hopes that the bust will act as a warning to drug dealers that the Brockton police department as well as the surrounding community lack tolerance for the predatory behavior of drug dealers.

The Constitution’s Fourth Amendment guards people in the United States as well as their property against searches and seizures deemed unreasonable. The limits of the Fourth Amendment are often put to the test when active or open warrants are issued by a judge authorizing law enforcement to search a person or their property or seize this property.

Under an active warrant, law enforcement immediately searches for a person. With open warrants, law enforcement have the authority to interact with the person, but these are often the result of lower emphasis encounters.

The Role of Active Warrants

Law enforcement places great importance on active warrants. Warrants of this kind are often issued after serious criminal offenses like homicides and kidnappings. Following the commission of a serious crime, a judge issues an active warrant, which might also include an arrest, bench, or search warrant. Law enforcement will then take active measures to locate the suspect. Once located, the individual is placed under arrest and taken to jail. Sometimes, active warrants are referred to as “outstanding” warrants. 

The Role of Open Warrants

Open warrants have a low priority, and law enforcement does not actively begin to search for an individual. If a person has an open warrant, the individual cannot do things like renew their driver’s license or obtain an airline ticket. Sometimes, people are not aware they have open warrants. This might occur if a person forgets about a moving violation ticket.  

The Office of the Inspector General reports that felony warrants can remain open for an indefinite period if law enforcement lacks the resources to locate someone. Warrants are closed when a person either surrenders or a direct or physical arrest happens. Warrants are also viewed as closed if they are dismissed or a warrant is returned as the result of insufficient information. Even if a person has an open warrant in a different jurisdiction, due to the internet and today’s technology, law enforcement can quickly relay these details so they are available in the jurisdiction where you now reside. As a result, while open warrants are not emphasized as highly as active warrants, you should still make sure to address them.

Speak With a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Law enforcement in Massachusetts takes all crimes seriously. If you have questions about any warrants that exist for you currently, contact an attorney for help. Contact Attorney Edward R. Molari today for assistance.