Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

How can You Defend Against Massachusetts Firearm Charges?

Law enforcement in Springfield recently arrested four men and seized an illegal firearm and cocaine after executing a search warrant at an apartment. The arrests occurred after detectives investigating the illegal possession of firearms were granted a warrant to search the apartment. A firearm was later found to have been tossed out of the window during the search. 

Law enforcement later recovered the firearm as well as 133 rounds of ammunition, an empty magazine, approximately five grams of cocaine, and $451 in cash. Various charges have since been brought against the four men including possession of a firearm without a license, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of ammunition without an FID card, and improper storage of a firearm. 

If you are a Massachusetts resident charged with a firearm offense, it is easy to feel uncertain or overwhelmed about what the future holds. One of the best first steps you can take is to speak with a skilled criminal defense lawyer.

Massachusetts Firearm Laws

There are various laws in Massachusetts dictating firearm usage. Some of the most common firearm offenses with which people in the state are charged include:

  • Knowingly possessing a loaded or unloaded firearm outside your home or place of business or without the required firearm license.

  • Possessing an illegal weapon like a machine gun or sawed-off shotgun. 

  • Carrying a shotgun or rifle on a public way.

  • Possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.

  • Carrying a loaded firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Illegally discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling without the owner’s permission. 

Even if you are not aware of the offense at the time of the violation, you can still end up facing serious penalties.

Responding to Firearm Related Offenses

If you are convicted of a firearm charge in Massachusetts, all is not lost. Instead, there are many ways to respond to these offenses. Some of the most common defenses used to respond to these charges include:

  • That you were someplace else at the time the firearm offense occurred

  • You did not own the firearm in question and it instead belonged to someone else

  • You had the necessary registration to carry the firearm in such a manner

  • You were subject to improper police tactics. This might include insufficient Miranda warnings, illegal searches or seizures, or the violation of other Constitutional rights

It can be difficult to determine which defenses can be raised in response to a firearm charge, which is why the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer often proves critical.

Speak with an Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are charged with a firearm-related offense in Massachusetts, you have options. A skilled criminal defense attorney can review your case and create a strong legal strategy to respond to these charges. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to discuss your charges during a free case evaluation.

All Courts Closed Until April 6th

The Supreme Judicial Court has just issued an order closing all courts in Massachusetts until April 6th.  There are exceptions for emergency matters but they are extremely narrow.  To get a sense of how restrictive the order is, look at the following

5. Except as provided herein, all trials, whether jury or bench, in both criminal and civil cases, scheduled to commence in Massachusetts state courts between the date of this Order and April 17, 2020, are hereby continued to a date no earlier than April 21, 2020, unless the trial is a bench trial in a civil matter and may be conducted otherwise than in-person by agreement of the parties and of the court.  Where a jury trial has commenced prior to the effective date of this Order, a mistrial shall be declared based on the manifest necessity arising from the pandemic.

You can see the order here.

Four Critical Things to do When Fighting Rape Charges

A Northborough man in his 60s who taught high school and college currently faces both sex trafficking and rape charges after turning himself in to law enforcement. This development is the result of a two-year trafficking investigation by state police. During the investigation, various women were targeted, manipulated, and exploited by the teacher.  

Rather than providing financial support to these women, the teacher required these women to perform sexual acts with him. Additionally, a search of the teacher’s home revealed several marijuana plants and restraints used to bind victims. 

Currently, the man is being held on a $15,000 bail and has been ordered to forfeit his passport and pilot’s license. The man was also ordered to not leave his residence except for legal or medical appointments. 

If you are charged with rape or any similar offense in Massachusetts, it can help greatly to follow some important strategies to avoid jeopardizing the outcome of your case.

Avoid Offering Information to Law Enforcement

Many people think that cooperating with law enforcement means going above and beyond every request that law enforcement makes. This, however, does not make things easier for the person accused of the offense. Instead, if law enforcement questions you, the best idea is to exercise your right to remain silent.  

If you are subject to any form of police questioning, you should make sure that you remain silent if your attorney is not present. While it might not be exactly what law enforcement wants, remaining silent during this time is much better than making a mistake that could jeopardize the outcome of your case.

Avoid Speaking to the Press

Many sex crimes receive a great deal of publicity. Speaking to the media, however, will only endanger the outcome of your case. This is because the media tends to present stories in favor of the victim. As a result, you should be aware that anything you say could be taken out of context and eventually used against you.

Gather Supporting Information From Witnesses

There is a large amount of evidence collected during the trial of sex crimes. You should take the opportunity to locate and speak to any witnesses who might be able to support your side. In some situations, witnesses can even establish that you were somewhere else at the time the offense occurred and could not possibly have been the person who committed the crime. This is referred to as an alibi. 

Collect Other Supporting Evidence

Besides gathering eyewitness testimony, you should also collect other evidence supporting your defense. This evidence can include text messages, video surveillance footage, receipts, or voicemail. The strongest evidence shows that either someone else committed the offense or that you were not at the scene at the time of the offense. 

Contact a Skilled Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with a sexual offense can result in serious consequences including large fines and jail time. If you need the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney during this difficult time, do not hesitate to contact attorney Edward R. Molari.

What can Law Enforcement do if They Smell Marijuana?

A New York resident was recently arrested in Boston’s South Station after law enforcement found approximately 10 pounds of marijuana stuffed inside the man’s travel bag. Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority officers were alerted after a bus terminal worker reported a strong marijuana odor emanating from a piece of baggage. 

After performing an investigation, law enforcement found approximately 10 pounds of marijuana as well as a scale inside of the bag. The alleged owner of the marijuana was later arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. 

While the man in this case ended up facing criminal charges based only on the odor of marijuana, there are other situations in which law enforcement cannot use the mere scent of marijuana alone to pursue an arrest. This article reviews some important Massachusetts laws that you should know regarding marijuana smells and criminal offenses.

Vehicle Stops Based on the Smell of Marijuana

For years, courts held that the smell of marijuana gave law enforcement probable cause to perform a vehicle stop. In the 2015 case of Commonwealth v. Rodriguez, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that law enforcement officers cannot stop a vehicle when they only have reasonable suspicion that a civil infraction for a small amount of marijuana has occurred. 

This means that if law enforcement only smells the odor of burnt marijuana emanating from your vehicle, they still need probable cause demonstrating that you are committing a criminal offense. Because marijuana possession of a small amount is not a criminal offense, law enforcement cannot use the smell of marijuana to form probable cause that a person has committed any other type of crime. The reasoning behind the court’s decision was that the odor of marijuana can be carried on a person’s clothing or might be from someone else. 

Vehicle Searches Due to the Smell of Marijuana

In the same way that law enforcement in Massachusetts cannot stop your vehicle based on only the smell of marijuana, they also cannot search your vehicle as the result of the smell of marijuana. In the 2014 case of Commonwealth v. Overmeyer, the Massachusetts Supreme Court found that law enforcement can only search a vehicle if the police have probable cause that your vehicle contains evidence of a criminal offense. 

The odor of burnt marijuana does not establish probable cause that a criminal offense has been committed because an odor does not inform law enforcement about the amount of marijuana that is in a vehicle. 

What This Means for Massachusetts Drivers

It is common for law enforcement to claim that they smell marijuana. Combined with other factors, Massachusetts police often use these factors to justify an arrest. There have even been cases of law enforcement lying about the smell of marijuana so they can continue a search. This means that if law enforcement claims to smell marijuana coming from you or your vehicle, you are at greater risk of ending up in a difficult situation. 

Law enforcement, however, cannot use the smell of marijuana whether burnt or unburnt as the only factor to stop your vehicle or perform a vehicle search. Some factors that can lead to searches or stops if paired with the smell of marijuana include erratic driving, failure to use a turn signal, following too close, and speeding. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Being convicted of a marijuana-related offense can result in a person facing large fines, jail time, and many other complications. As a result, if you find yourself in such a situation, you should not hesitate to speak with a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

Three Quick Facts About Malicious Destruction in Massachusetts

Two men in downtown Boston were recently caught and arrested for attempting to break into an ATM. The arrest occurred after Boston law enforcement received an ATM alarm call near Broad Street. On arrival, law enforcement began inspecting the ATM for damage. 

As law enforcement inspected the machine, they heard sounds behind it, so they shined flashlights through the ATM’s glass exterior and into the building’s vestibule. This revealed two men with crowbars who were attempting to break into the machine through its back. Consequently, the officers drew their guns, ordered the suspects to drop their tools, and commanded the suspects to get on the ground. 

After the two suspects complied, they were placed under arrest. The two men were later charged with breaking and entering as well as malicious destruction of property. Because malicious destruction of property can result in some serious penalties, the following reviews some of the important details you should understand about this offense in Massachusetts. Combined with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, these details can better prepare you for what lies ahead. 

What Constitutes Malicious Destruction?

Massachusetts defines malicious destruction as occurring whenever a person willfully either destroys or injures another person’s property. While vandalism is the most common type of malicious destruction, the offense can also include acts like setting someone else’s property on fire or breaking someone else’s window. As in the previous examples, this offense can also include destroying a bank’s ATMs.

There are Two Types of Malicious Destruction Charges

There are two types of malicious destruction charges in Massachusetts. These offenses are separated both based on the intent of the party involved as well as the amount of damages caused by the offense. If the offense involves greater than $250 in damages, a person can end up facing a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $3,000. If the offense is less than this amount, a person will end up facing a maximum of two and a half months in jail and approximately three times the cost of the damage in fines.

There are Several Available Defenses

Two defenses are commonly raised in response to malicious destruction charges. You will either establish that the items destroyed were actually less than $250 in value or that you did not have the required mental state at the time of the offense. 

To establish the requisite mental intent, you must establish that you did not consciously disregard someone else’s safety. You might also establish that you were not the person who actually destroyed the property or that you had permission to destroy the property from the property’s owner.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been charged with malicious destruction of property, a skilled criminal defense attorney like Edward R. Molari will review your case and help you create a strong defense strategy. Contact attorney Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

A Quick Guide to Avoiding a Charge of Resisting Arrest

A juvenile in Roxbury is currently facing weapon charges after he was arrested with a loaded weapon. Law enforcement officers responding to an apartment building call saw the suspect moving among a group of teenagers, who were gathered in a hallway. While officers gathered the names of the teenagers in the group, the suspect attempted to conceal his weapon on the left side of his upper body. Later, law enforcement patted down the suspect and felt a firearm in the juvenile’s inner jacket pocket. 

After the juvenile attempted to escape, he underwent a violent struggle with law enforcement. This led to law enforcement confiscating a loaded handgun, which bore a defaced serial number. The juvenile was also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, carrying a loaded firearm, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, and resisting arrest.

It is rarely the case that a person is charged with just resisting arrest. Instead, this charge is often added when a person is charged with another offense. This offense, however, results in additional penalties. To help you prepare for the various complications that can result from this charge, the following reviews some important steps to avoid being charged with resisting arrest.

Understand What Resisting Arrest Includes

In Massachusetts, the charge of resisting arrest is broad. A person can be charged with arresting arrest if that individual prevents a law enforcement officer from arresting him or her, or another individual. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes a surprised or panicked reaction to being arrested can lead to this charge.

Know the Penalties

A person charged with resisting arrest can end up facing some serious penalties. These penalties include imprisonment of up to two and a half years and/or a fine of $500. Given the serious nature of these penalties, it is often in your best interest to avoid being charged with the offense at all. 

Avoid a Resisting Arrest Charge

If law enforcement arrests you, it is critical to remain calm. It is also important to avoid running or hiding from the police. If you are asked for your identification during this process, you must avoid giving either a fake ID or false identification. You do have a right, however, for the law enforcement officer to reveal their identity. You also have the right to question on what grounds the law enforcement officer is arresting you.

You Have Defenses

Unless a witness is present, it can be difficult to establish what happened during your arrest. Consequently, there are several strategies that you can use to defend against resisting arrest charges, which include:

  • That the arrest was unlawful

  • That law enforcement was using excessive force and you were defending yourself

  • That you did not actually resist the arrest

  • That law enforcement failed to provide adequate identification 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are charged with resisting arrest in Massachusetts, an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney can help. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

How to Respond to Questions From Law Enforcement

Law enforcement recently arrested a Florida man in Massachusetts who is accused of attempting to lure girls into his car. Law enforcement later determined that the man was also wanted by United States Marshals for firearm violations.Currently, no charges are pending against the man.  

When arrests occur in Massachusetts, a large number of them occur because people are not certain how to handle questions from law enforcement. It can be difficult to determine the right way to respond to questions asked by law enforcement. The following reviews some important points to remember about law enforcement interrogation.

Are You Required to Answer Questions Asked by Law Enforcement Officers?

The Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution protects people from self-incrimination, which means that individuals have the right to refuse to answer questions asked by law enforcement. In most situations, a person cannot be arrested for refusing to answer these questions.

Remember Your Rights During Law Enforcement Questioning

If you are questioned by law enforcement, you have the right to remain silent. This means that you do not have to answer any questions unless you are under arrest. If you decide to speak to law enforcement, any statements that you provide can later be used against you. If you do decide to answer these questions, you have the right to have an attorney present. If you are not under arrest, however, it is often in your best interest to answer law enforcement’s questions.

There are Some Times When You Must Provide Information

Despite the general rule that you are not required to answer law enforcement questions, there are situations in which you might be required to provide law enforcement with certain information. Other times, it might be better to answer routine questions rather than refuse to do so. 

Remember Your Miranda Rights

When law enforcement makes an arrest, the person being arrested must be given Miranda warnings. This warning advises a person about what their rights are under the US Constitution. Even if you have not been placed under arrest, you are not required to answer any questions asked by law enforcement. If law enforcement stops you and asks for identification, however, it is often in your best interest to simply cooperate and provide the necessary information. Miranda warnings are only required if you are in custody and are not being interrogated. Custody does not mean that you are under arrest, but you are not exactly free to leave.

A Skilled Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Fight for You

It can be overwhelming to be questioned by the police. One of the best steps that you can take when confronted with police questioning or criminal charges is to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Do not hesitate to speak with attorney Edward R Molari today to obtain assistance.

What to do After a Law Enforcement Raid

A woman in Marion was recently arrested after dozens of animals were found neglected or deceased on her property. The animals include cats, chickens, rabbits, ducks, pigs, dogs, exotic birds, and miniature horses. The animals were subsequently taken into custody by the Animal Rescue League. After a similar raid several decades ago, the woman had been prohibited from having animals on her property. As a result of the raid, the woman’s house has since been condemned on the basis that the residence was structurally unsound and filthy.  

Children who were living at the residence were later placed with relatives. Law enforcement had been informed of the problem last month and warned the homeowner, but after returning, it became clear that improvements had not been made. The woman who owned the house was arrested and now faces several counts of animal cruelty as well as interfering with law enforcement and resisting arrest. Besides the woman who owned the home, four other individuals were living at the property. At least 45 animals have currently been removed from the woman’s care.

Having your home raided by law enforcement is not an experience to be taken lightly. In many cases, law enforcement will treat items carelessly, which can leave the residence a mess and even result in property damage. In many cases, law enforcement hopes that searching the premises in such an upsetting way will lead the suspects to say something incriminating. This article reviews some of the various steps that you should remember to follow in such a situation. 

Remain Silent

While performing a search of the premises, law enforcement will often prevent anyone from either entering or leaving the premises. During this time, it is a wise idea to remain silent and to avoid entering into a discussion with law enforcement. It is rarely the case that people who say anything during this time end up stating anything that helps their case. Instead, it is much more likely that something you say during this time will end up harming you in the long run.

Do Not Grant Permissions

It is a good idea to refrain from granting law enforcement permission to search the premises. Even if law enforcement has already obtained a warrant, it is likely limited in one or several ways. By providing consent to search additional areas, you can end up greatly harming the outcome of your case. 

Document the Scene

After law enforcement leaves the scene, it is a good idea to take photographs and even capture a video of the scene. Doing this can provide compelling evidence to support your argument particularly if law enforcement later makes inaccurate claims about how things were found. This evidence can also be valuable in case your civil rights are later violated.

Speak with a Seasoned Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Being subject to a law enforcement raid can result in many serious complications. To respond to any resulting charges, one of the best steps that you can take is to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can help you navigate complex legal actions like filing a Motion to Suppress evidence. Contact Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Three Things to Know About Receiving Stolen Property

Law enforcement in Massachusetts recently arrested two men after the couple allegedly scammed an 85-year-old grandmother through a phone scam. The woman told law enforcement that she received a phone call from a man who said that he was her grandson’s lawyer and claimed that the grandson needed $9,000 to get out of jail. After the woman withdrew the requested amount, she placed a package in front of her house, which she believed would be picked up by a carrier.  

Shortly after, the woman received a call asking for $10,000 and also placed this money in a package. Law enforcement later began an investigation and the woman told law enforcement that she had received a third request. 

At the request of law enforcement, the woman placed a third package in front of the house and law enforcement watched as a car with New York plates approached the home.  

One man got out of the passenger seat and picked up the package. After the man got back in the vehicle and drove away, law enforcement followed. After waiting until the man got out of the vehicle, law enforcement approached the two men and later arrested them. The men have since been charged with conspiracy to receive stolen property and attempting to commit larceny by false pretense.

The Offense Involves Several Elements

To convict a person of receiving stolen property, the prosecution must satisfy several elements which include showing that:

  • The person purchased, received, or assisted in concealing stolen property. This means that at some point the person being convicted must have actually, constructively, or jointly possessed the item.

  • The goods must have been stolen. 

  • The person being charged must have known the goods were stolen. A subjective test involving the evaluation of circumstantial evidence is used to determine whether the person being charged knew the goods were stolen.

Available Defenses to Theft

Several defenses can be raised in response to receiving stolen property. Some of these defenses include:

  • A strong defense can be made if the person being charged was not aware that the goods were stolen. This often requires purchasing something at a price much lower than market value.

  • Another strong defense exists if the person being charged can establish that the property was either on the individual’s person or in their premises. If doubt about ownership can be raised, a party can create a strong argument against a conviction.

  • If a person can establish that they intended to return stolen property to the rightful owner, the prosecution will lack the necessary criminal intent to establish a conviction.

A Conviction Can Impact a Person’s Immigration Status

Being convicted of receiving stolen property can impact various parts of a person’s life. If a person is not a US citizen, the individual can end up facing serious immigration consequences, which include deportation or difficulty entering the country in the future. 

Contact a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

Regardless of the criminal charges that you face, one of the best steps that you can take is to speak with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer. Do not hesitate to contact Edward Molari today. Attorney Edward R Molari has helped many people who have faced similar charges and will remain committed to fighting for the results you deserve.

 

Defending Against SIM Swapping Charges

Law enforcement has recently arrested two men and charged them with plotting to steal half a million dollars through the swapping of SIM cards. As a result of the arrest, two men were charged with 11 counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud and abuse, and aggravated identity theft. The men who were arrested allegedly targeted executives of cryptocurrency businesses as well as individuals who held a substantial amount of cryptocurrency and those who had high-value social media account names. 

Both men conspired to hack into and take over the accounts of at least 10 individuals throughout the country. These efforts would have resulted in more than $55,000 in cryptocurrency being stolen. 

What SIM Cards do

Subscriber identity modules (SIM) cards are responsible for storing user data on cellular phones on the Global System for Mobile (GSM) network. Cell phone providers rely on these networks to provide cell phone service to subscribers, which authenticate cellphone subscriptions. 

Without a SIM card, GSM-based phones are not able to connect to the cell phone carrier telecommunications networks. In addition to being essential to access these networks, SIM cards are also able to identify phone users. 

What Constitutes SIM Swapping?

SIM swapping is currently one of the most popular types of theft. The technique allows criminals to convince a victim’s cell phone carrier to reassign a phone number from a SIM card found inside a stolen device to the SIM card inside of a phone controlled by the person committing the offense. 

The perpetrator then poses as the victim with an online account provider and requests the receipt of the account password reset links or authentication codes to the compromised device. As a result, the offender can reset the victim’s login information and hack that person’s account. 

Defenses to SIM Swapping

SIM swapping is a fairly new criminal offense and as a result, can be difficult to track and even more challenging for prosecution to prove. An experienced criminal defense attorney understands how theft offenses occur in the digital world and can help review the facts of your case to create a strong strategy. Some of the most common defenses that we can help you raise in response to these charges include:

  • A user was authorized to use the SIM card and no theft occurred.

  • Entrapment. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement or government agents induce a person to commit an offense that was not contemplated by the individual to bring charges against the individual.

  • Establishing that someone else is responsible for committing the offense.

  • Law enforcement seized evidence of the offense without a warrant or any one of the warrant exceptions applying

  • The statute of limitations for committing the offense has expired

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Regardless of the type of theft offense with which you are charged, one of the best steps that you can take if you face charges is to retain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact attorney Edward Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

 

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