Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Facing Drug Trafficking Charges?

Police in Great Barrington recently arrested three individuals in connection to an ongoing narcotics investigation. The arrests arose in connection with two separate motor vehicle stops. In addition to the stops, police also executed a search warrant on a local hotel room and one of the individual’s vehicles. The amount of substance that is believed to qualify as fentanyl is considered to be “trafficking weight.”  

Law enforcement also seized a large amount of cash. One of the individuals who was arrested has since been charged with distribution of a class A drug as well as trafficking a controlled substance of more than 36 grams. The other two individuals who were arrested have been charged with possession of a class A substance. 

Massachusetts takes the offense of drug trafficking seriously. One of the best ways to navigate these charges is to understand some of the critical details about how these charges are made.

What Separates Simple Drug Possession From Drug Trafficking?

The prosecution in Massachusetts has the burden of establishing that a person was in possession of a certain drug and that the individual either sold or intended to sell the drug. The act of selling or intending to sell is what separates the offense of drug trafficking from simple possession. Some pieces of evidence that the prosecution commonly relies on to establish a person sold or intended to sell drugs are baggies, cash, ledges, and scales. 

Elements that Impact the Severity of Charges

Some of the elements that influence the severity of drug trafficking charges include:

  • Massachusetts law punishes some drugs more harshly than others. 

  • People are often charged with offenses in addition to drug trafficking charges. Some of the other offenses with which people are commonly charged include money laundering and drug manufacturing.

  • If a person has a previous criminal history, the consequences of drug trafficking charges increase in likely severity.

Defenses to Drug Trafficking Charges

Drug trafficking charges result in serious penalties, but fortunately, there are several ways to respond to these charges. Some of the most common legal defenses that people raise in response to these charges include:

  • Attacking the credibility of a witness who provided details about the drug activity is often a powerful defense.

  • Establishing that evidence was only obtained as a result of the violation of constitutional rights is a common defense technique.

  • To satisfy the elements of a drug trafficking charge, the prosecution must show that the drugs in question were actually for sale and not for personal use. Sometimes, a defense can be created around the argument that the prosecution has not proven this element.

  • Sometimes, a defense can be raised that scientific evidence has revealed that the drugs were not actually an illegal substance.

Contact a Compassionate Criminal Defense Attorney

Following a drug-related criminal charge, one of the best steps that you can take is to promptly obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today and during a free case evaluation, he can discuss your available options to respond to these charges. 

Five Ways to Defend Against Charges of Possession of Child Pornography

A CyberTip received by the Massachusetts State Police led to the arrest of a level 2 sex offender who has been charged with possessing child sexual abuse imagery. The man has since been arraigned on both this charge as well as failure to register as a sex offender in connection with allegedly possessing multiple videos and images of children engaging in sexual acts. The man has been accused of living at a Westford home where he was not registered.  

Westford law enforcement began their investigation on December 3rd as a result of a Cybertip from the Internet Crimes Against Children Cyber Crime Unit. The tip claimed that child sex abuse imagery had been uploaded using a Kik Messenger account. The tip was issued by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and was connected to an IP address of a home located on Groton Road in Westford. After obtaining subpoenas, executing a search warrant, and conducting physical surveillance, an investigation revealed that the suspect had uploaded multiple images of “minor female victims” with his messenger account. 

Law enforcement ultimately identified the defendant at the residence and determined that he had been there for over a year despite being registered in Chelmsford. Consequently, the man was held on a $10,000 bail and instructed not to engage in any unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18. The man also must check in with probation weekly if he posts bail and has been advised not to use either the internet or social media with limited exceptions.

If you or a loved one is facing possession of child pornography charges, it is easy to end up feeling overwhelmed about what you can do to pursue compensation. You should know, however, that there are several common strategies to respond to these charges. 

Unintentional Possession

This defense involves establishing that a person did not mean to have child pornography in his or her possession or that the material did not belong to the person facing charges. For example, child pornography files might be located on a computer that a person shares with others.

Accidental Possession

Sometimes, hackers or other adverse parties might maliciously place child pornography on a person’s computer or in that individual’s possession. Establishing that you are the victim of such a malicious act can provide a valid defense.

Illegal Search and Seizure

Law enforcement commonly commits Fourth Amendment violations. In this situation, even if you were looking at child pornography, your attorney can argue that the evidence was obtained as a result of the violation of your constitutional rights. 

Entrapment

Entrapment occurs when the police induce a person to commit a criminal offense that a person would not have committed otherwise. For example, the police might induce a person to purchase content that was not clearly child pornography and then arrest the person.

The Material is Not Child Pornography

Under Massachusetts law, child pornography has a specific definition. This means that the material must either show children naked or engaged in sexually explicit situations. If the content actually depicts non-minors, then that material cannot be classified as child porn.  

Let a Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney Fight for You

Even if you are not convicted of the offense, sex crime charges in Massachusetts carry various repercussions including lasting stigma that can jeopardize a person’s career and social standing. To respond to these charges, one of the best things that you can do is obtain the assistance of a compassionate defense lawyer. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Defending Against Dissemination of Obscene Material Charges

The Plymouth district attorney’s office revealed that a Bridgewater State University professor was recently indicted on charges of rape and other sex crimes after several female students reported assault. The other offenses for which the professor was indicted include indecent assault and battery on an individual over the age of 14, engaging in sexual conduct for a fee, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, and three counts of disseminating obscene material. 

As previously discussed on this blog, Bridgewater State University police began investigating the incident after a female student claimed that the professor sent her inappropriate pictures in October. At the time of the previous post, the professor had been charged with rape, sex trafficking, and criminal harassment. The professor is scheduled to be arraigned in Brockton Superior Court on February 25, 2021.  

While this case is complex, it introduces one way in which dissemination of obscene material charges can arise in Massachusetts. The following reviews some critical details that everyone should understand about the charge.

What it Means to Disseminate Obscene Material

One of the best ways to understand what constitutes a charge of dissemination of obscene material is to understand what elements of the offense must be proven by the prosecution. To establish the offense for a conviction, the prosecution must establish the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: 

  • The matter is obscene

  • The party accused of the offense either disseminated the matter or possessed the matter with the intent to disseminate it

  • The party accused of the offense knew of the material’s obscene nature 

Penalties Associated With a Charge of Dissemination of Obscene Material

If a person is convicted of the dissemination of obscene material in Massachusetts, that individual faces several strict penalties. General Laws Chapter 272, Section 29 penalizes the crime with imprisonment of up to two and a half years in a house of corrections or a maximum of five years in state prison. Additionally, the legislature has mandated that prosecution for a charge of dissemination of obscene material is prohibited from being continued without a finding.  

What is Considered Obscene?

The crime of dissemination of obscene material applies to a variety of printed and visual material. Most often, the charge is initiated against books, films, magazines, and photographs. To be considered obscene, material must be all of the following requirements:

  • The material must appeal to the prurient interest of an average citizen of the county in which the offense occurred. Prurient interest refers to either a morbid or shameful interest in nudity, excretion, sex, or sexual matters that is repugnant to moral standards. As a result, erotic or sexual materials are not always obscene. 

  • The material must either describe or show sexual conduct in a way that is patently offensive to an average citizen of the county.

  • The material must lack any serious artistic, literary, political, or scientific merit. 

Speak With an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with disseminating obscene material, you should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of a skilled attorney. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Five Potential Defenses to Murder Charges in Massachusetts

A man in Brockton faces murder charges after law enforcement alleges that he fatally stabbed his roommate to death. The charges come after police responded to a reported altercation in the area and found an unresponsive man who had multiple stab wounds. The victim was then taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The man’s roommate is scheduled to be arraigned on a murder charge in Brockton District Court.  

One of the most common questions that people have about murder charges is if they will have defenses available to them. In reality, there are two types of defenses to murder charges — admissions and assertions. Assertions refer to defenses in which a person states that he or she did not commit the murder. Assertions, however, are defenses in which a person states that he or she committed the crime but that the offense was either not intentional or preventable. 

The following are some of the most common defenses people raise in response to murder charges. 

  • Inability to Form the Required Intent: The inability to form the necessary deliberate intent as the result of an issue or intoxication can make a person incapable of committig murder. 

  • Accident or Misfortune: A death that occurs accidentally is not classified as a murder. Unfortunately, many fatalities occur as the result of misfortune or bad luck rather than any intentional actions of another person. In these cases, murder charges are often reduced to manslaughter. 

  • The Insanity Defense: A person in Massachusetts is not viewed as guilty if that individual lacked the criminal intent to commit a crime. After a person raises the defense of insanity, the prosecution must then establish beyond a reasonable doubt that individual committed the murder and was sane at the time that he or she did so. In Massachusetts, a person is considered to lack the criminal responsibility to commit a murder if that individual suffers either a mental disease or defect and either is substantially unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his act or is substantially unable to conform his or her conduct to the law.

  • Mistaken Identity: If a person is wrongfully accused of murder, that individual can raise a defense of mistaken identity. This defense often requires a person to successfully establish that he or she was not at the place where the murder occurred at the time that it occurred.

  • Self-Defense or Defense of Another: Defending yourself or someone else is one way to defend against murder charges. In these situations, a person must establish that he or she was in immediate danger of death or great bodily harm and as a result acted in such a defensive manner. 

Obtain the Assistance of a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer

Being convicted and sometimes even charged with a crime in Massachusetts can lead to serious complications. A skilled attorney, however, can help you respond to these charges. Do not hesitate to obtain the assistance of attorney Edward R. Molari.

Four Things to Remember About Massachusetts Fentanyl Trafficking Charges

The Hampden District Attorney has revealed that investigators discovered three kilograms of pure fentanyl as well as cash, cocaine, and guns in raids that occurred in Belchertown and Springfield in December 2020.  

One kilo of cocaine was found in a box under a Christmas tree at the home of a suspected drug trafficker. Massachusetts troopers had stopped the man’s vehicle on December 5th and discovered a kilo of cocaine in it. Two days after the man was arrested, Massachusetts troopers discovered two other men with 2.8 kilos of fentanyl in the backs of their vehicles. A day later, two other men were arrested and charged with illegal gun possession, drug trafficking, and other criminal offenses. 

The Hampden District attorney stated that a large amount of fentanyl is believed to be in the area. He also stated that the arrests and drug seizures were the result of investigatory efforts by several departments. The suspects are currently still being arraigned in a court of law. 

If you or a loved one is charged with trafficking in narcotics, it helps to understand some important details about the nature of these charges. 

What it Means to Traffick Drugs

Massachusetts General Law Chapter 94C Controlled Substances Act, Section 32E(c) defines the act of drug trafficking as either intentionally or knowingly distributing, dispensing, manufacturing, or possessing with the intent to distribute, dispense, or manufacture a controlled substance. 

Trafficking Carries Harsh Penalties

Drug trafficking convictions in Massachusetts can result in substantial penalties. This often includes a minimum period of imprisonment as well as fines. Additionally, those convicted of drug trafficking, and sometimes even those who are simply charged, end up facing challenges that substantially disrupt their personal and professional lives. 

Elements of a Drug Trafficking Conviction

To convict a person of drug trafficking, the prosecution must establish several elements beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements include the following: 

  • The defendant either intentionally or knowingly

  • Had active or constructive possession of the substance

  • The amount possessed satisfies the established trafficking definitions

  • The substance was possessed with the intent of being distributed to another 

Defenses to Drug Trafficking Charges Exist

Several common defenses are raised in response to drug trafficking charges. One of the most common strategies is to file a motion to suppress, which can end up impacting what evidence is permitted to be used at a trial. Motions to suppress might establish that the search of a person, home, or vehicle was unconstitutional, that the informant who provided details leading to the arrest was unreliable, or that an initial traffic stop that led to the discovery of drugs was unlawful. 

It is also sometimes possible to argue that a drug trafficking charge should be reduced to a criminal charge that carries less stringent penalties.

Do Not Hesitate to Obtain the Assistance of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

It is often a confusing and overwhelming experience to face criminal charges in Massachusetts. One of the best things you can do in such a situation is to obtain the assistance of a skilled defense attorney. Do not hesitate to contact Attorney Edward R. Molari so that he can begin protecting your rights and fighting for the results you deserve.

How to Defend Against Breaking-in Charges

A man was arrested in November at the Barking Crab in the Seaport part of Boston. After responding to a reported break-in at the restaurant, law enforcement officers found the man stealing bottles of alcohol. The suspect then fell and cut himself on broken bottles as he attempted to flee the police. The suspect was then taken by the police to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

How Breaking and Entering is Categorized

Massachusetts Chapter 266 Section 16 defines the crime of “breaking and entering at nighttime with the intent to commit a felony” or “burglary.” This offense is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in state prison. To be convicted of the offense, the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a person committed the following:

  • At night time. The element of night includes the time between one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.

  • Breaks into a structure belonging to another person. The word ‘break’ is confusing, and the prosecution need not establish that a person broke anything. Instead, breaking can be found in the exertion of any type of physical force.

  • Enters a building or structure belonging to another person. This does not mean that a person’s entire body enters the structure; just a hand or arm is enough.

  • With the intent to commit a felony. Many times, it is difficult to show a person had the intent to commit a crime. If a person lacked intent, the only offense with which a person can be convicted would be trespassing, which is a much less serious offense.

Given these complexities, several strong defenses can be raised in response to a breaking and entering charge. This article considers just a few of the most common defenses.

Common Defenses to Breaking and Entering

Some of the most common defenses that are raised in response to breaking and entering charges include:

  • If the property owner consented to the individual’s location on the property, a defense might exist. Courts interpret consent narrowly, though. This means that if a property owner consented for a person to be one part of the property but not the area where the breaking and entering occurred, consent cannot be used as a defense.

  • If a person was mistaken about the property in such a way that the intent aspect of breaking and entering is negated, a person can raise a strong defense. This might involve a person breaking and entering someone else’s property while under the mistaken belief it was the trespasser’s property or that the property belonged to friends or family who provided that individual with consent.

Speak With a Criminal Defense Attorney

Remember, being convicted of breaking and entering or one of several other theft crimes in Massachusetts carries serious penalties including imprisonment, fines, and the lasting reputation of being a thief. To maximize your chances of avoiding these charges, you should not hesitate to speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation, during which time attorney Molari will review your available options to respond to charges.

What Process is Involved in an Illegal Firearm Charge?

Massachusetts law enforcement arrested a 47-year-old man at the Ruggles MBTA station in Boston. On the man’s person, law enforcement discovered a loaded pistol, three spare magazines that were fully loaded, a knife, and a bullet-proof vest. Law enforcement has also stated that the man is suspected of compiling chemicals that can be used to manufacture explosives. Additionally, law enforcement states that the man adheres to an anti-government extremist ideology.

Massachusetts has a rigorous body of law addressing what constitutes illegal handgun usage. If you face a criminal charge related to a firearm or other weapon, the Massachusetts criminal process can be nerve-wracking. In hopes of making this process easier to understand, the following briefly reviews the common phases in the criminal trial process. Remember that you are presumed innocent until you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Citation or Arrest

If law enforcement views your offense as a less serious one, you will likely be given a paper citation to appear in court. Many crimes, however, result in an arrest, which means that you will be brought to the police department for processing. You will then be given a future date for an arraignment unless you are held without bail. You will likely also be searched during this time.

Hearing for Misdemeanors

For many misdemeanors, a clerk’s magistrate hearing will occur next, during this time the Commonwealth must identify enough evidence that allows them to charge a person with a crime.

The Arraignment Process

Arraignments are often held for people charged with the most serious crimes. Some of the reasons why a Massachusetts District Court will ask a person to appear for an arraignment include that a person was arrested and placed in jail, a person received a summon to appear without being arrested, and a person appeared at a clerk magistrate’s hearing the clerk found probable cause to charge the individual with a crime.

Pre-Trial Conferences and Negotiations

Before a trial, your lawyer will attempt to negotiate a plea bargain. This means that in exchange for a guilty plea, the prosecution might agree to a lesser sentence.

Pre-Trial Hearings

As part of settlement negotiations, a case will sometimes have other hearings to assess other pre-trial results.

Criminal Trial

If a case proceeds to trial without a plea bargain, the trial process will likely include several stages. These stages include things like opening statements, evidence presentation, and closing statements.

Verdict and Sentencing

If a court determines that a person is guilty of a criminal offense, the judge will likely sentence a person immediately if the hearing involved a misdemeanor. If a felony is involved, sentencing will often take much longer.

Obtain the Help of a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

Remember, while the United States Constitution acknowledges certain gun rights, these firearm rights are not absolute. If you are convicted of a firearm-related offense, you can suddenly find yourself facing a variety of challenges. One of the best things to do is contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible after finding out about a firearm charge. Attorney Edward R Molari will then remain committed to making sure that you have the strongest legal defense possible. Contact attorney Molari today for assistance.

What Covid-19 Crimes are There in Massachusetts?

Law enforcement in Massachusetts arrested a man in November after he spit at two female hikers and claimed that he had COVID-19. The man had confronted the two women for not wearing masks on a popular trail close to the New Hampshire border. In a video of the confrontation, the man tells one of the women to put on a mask. This echoes an executive order by Governor Baker stating that anyone over the age of 5 in the state is required to wear a face covering.

Police later stated that the man is charged with assault and battery as well as making a false threat of a biological agent. Law enforcement also noted that it had received numerous anonymous tips after releasing a video of the confrontation. This led to the man being arrested outside his residence with no incident. The man was arraigned in Winchendon District Court and pled not guilty. 

Following the issuing of stay-at-home orders, Boston saw a significant rise in crime. This is just one of the many ways in which our daily lives have been impacted by the pandemic. People have also had to contend with new laws, ordinances, and emergency orders designed to keep COVID-19 under control by banning gatherings of certain sizes and restricting movements. As a result, there are understandably some questions and concerns about how criminality functions during the pandemic. 

Assault With a Deadly Weapon

The example that began this article is just one report of many. Since the pandemic began, countless reports have emerged about people either deliberately or intentionally coughing on others to infect them with COVID-19. Some of these cases have occurred at stores, restaurants, and other locations where people are asked to wear masks to protect those around them. Other disputes have occurred in public and involve people who have disagreements about how often and in what setting you should wear a mask. When these cases have occurred in Massachusetts, individuals have been left facing “threat of a biological agent” charges. General Laws of Massachusetts - Chapter 269 “Crimes Against Public Peace” makes it illegal for a person to threaten to use a biological agent among other types of weapons.

Quarantine Violations

There have been countless cases of people who have violated quarantine orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. A person in Massachusetts who commits such an action could easily end up facing reckless endangerment charges under Massachusetts law. To convict a person of such charges, however, prosecutors in Massachusetts would likely first need to establish that a person was exposed to COVID-19 but violated quarantine orders and endangered the lives of others.

Team Up With a Compassionate Criminal Defense Attorney

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts takes the transmission of COVID-19 seriously. As a result, Massachusetts strictly enforces several laws about COVID-19 in the state. If you or a loved one is charged with such an offense, you need an attorney who will remain dedicated to your case. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today for assistance.

Four Things to do Immediately Following a False Sex Crime Charge

A Boston pharmacist is currently being held without bail following charges related to the possession of more than 15,000 suspected items of child pornography as well as conspiring with an out-of-state man to rape a child. The man has since pled not guilty to the charges, which include conspiracy to commit child rape as well as multiple child pornography-related counts, including dissemination, enticement, and possession. Boston law enforcement claims to have evidence of alleged criminal offenses that range from February 2019 to June 2020. 

Many people in Massachusetts have criminal records, and a large group of those individuals have been charged as sex offenders. While law enforcement in the Commonwealth does a good job of prosecuting drug crimes, not everyone who is convicted or accused in Massachusetts of sex crimes is guilty of wrongdoing. If you have been falsely accused of sex crimes in Massachusetts, there are some critical steps that you should promptly take.

Create a Strong Defense 

If you have been falsely accused of a sex crime, it is a good idea to immediately begin constructing a strong defense. Plans often include things like retaining the services of a professional who can provide psychological testing to confirm your innocence. Many people also take the action of collecting evidence that can exonerate them from charges. 

Be on Your Best Behavior

If you are facing a sex charge, it is critical to remain alert to everything that you say and do. Some actions that you should take include not making any ill-advised comments that could end up jeopardizing the outcome of your case. Not only does this advice apply to actions taken in real life, but also to anything posted to social media accounts.

Stay Alert to Investigators

As your sex charge case proceeds, you should remain alert to investigators who will attempt to collect evidence about your guilt. Investigators will rely on various techniques to reveal incriminating details about you and your past. This might mean uncontrolled phone calls or other efforts to lure you into providing incriminating details. Stay on guard to investigators as you navigate your charge. 

Do Not Get Discouraged

Regardless of how you feel about your case, it is important to not get discouraged. Sex crimes are a serious matter in Massachusetts, which means that a person often must go the extra distance to prove their innocence. Despite how difficult the situation might seem, it is a good idea to remain optimistic and engaged in proving your innocence until you are exonerated. Hiring an experienced attorney who will remain dedicated to the positive outcome of your case is one of the best steps you can take toward feeling better about your future.

Speak With a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

Conviction of a sex crime in Massachusetts can result in serious consequences including a tarnished social reputation and difficulty pursuing career opportunities. As a result, it is critical for people charged with these offenses to promptly retain the assistance of an experienced attorney. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

What Happens to Items Seized by Law Enforcement

Boston law enforcement recently recovered seven illegal handguns in eight hours. As a result of this discovery, nine individuals were arrested for various firearm offenses after the loaded weapons were confiscated in Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury. The arrested individuals between the ages of 19 to 49 who came from areas throughout Massachusetts.

One of the most common questions that people who are charged with criminal offenses in Massachusetts ask besides where one can find an experienced criminal defense lawyer is how to get property back following seizure by law enforcement. The answer to whether you can expect to see items confiscated by law enforcement again depends on the nature of the property. Whether you will be able to get your property back is influenced by the reason why the item was seized in the first place. The following reviews the four possible paths for property following confiscation by law enforcement.

Contraband

Contraband is property that is confiscated because it is against the law to possess it. Some of the most common examples of contraband include counterfeit money, illegal drugs, and illegal firearms. If property is classified as contraband, it will be held as evidence until your case is over, at which point the property might be destroyed. Your lawyer will be made aware of any contraband items and will likely examine the items before trial. If your lawyer can argue that possession of the items was lawful, you might have the item returned. Otherwise, the item would likely be destroyed during trial.

Evidence

The prosecution has the power to temporarily hold property that is believed to have been used in the commission of a crime or is the product of a crime. Law enforcement can also seize property that is believed to have been evidence of a crime even if a person is not arrested, charged, or convicted.

Forfeiture

Civil asset forfeiture is a process that allows the government to seize cash and assets that are believed to have been acquired or used from criminal activity. The process allows law enforcement as well as prosecutors to seize property without arresting or charging anyone with a crime. If a person loses their forfeiture in a civil case, law enforcement is permitted to keep or sell the property. Unfortunately, there are various cases of law enforcement misapplying forfeiture powers.

Safekeeping

If you had valuables on you at the time that you were arrested, law enforcement will often take these items and hold them until you are released to prevent them from being stolen. In most cases, you will need to provide the appropriate voucher as well as government-issued identification before these items are returned to you.

Speak with a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is charged with a firearm-related offense in Massachusetts, it is in your best interest to promptly retain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Do not hesitate to contact attorney Edward R Molari.

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