Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

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.

What is Criminal Intent?

A Mississippi man who recently landed at Boston’s Logan International Airport for a trip to Maine was arrested after he was found loading rounds into his pistol. The state police report that the man was placed under arrest for taking his firearm out of a previously checked bag that was curbside at a terminal. Several travelers who saw the incident immediately contacted 911. The man was soon afterward placed under arrest by state law enforcement. The police stated that the man lacked any criminal intention, but selected a poor time to check on his firearm. The man was ultimately charged with possession of a firearm without a firearm identification card as well as disturbing the peace and possession of ammunition without a firearms ID. 

Criminal intent is a complex phrase about which many people charged with criminal offenses have questions. “Mens rea” is the Latin term used to refer to criminal intent, which must be established beyond a reasonable doubt for criminal offense convictions. In criminal cases, to show a defendant  is guilty, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had criminal intent to commit the crime in question. 

Offenses of a criminal nature that do not require proof of a person’s intent are referred to as “strict liability” offenses. The prosecution is not required to establish any level of criminal intent for these crimes. In most cases, criminal offenses require a culpable mental state, but some crimes can be charged despite a person’s intent.

Types of Criminal Intent

Criminal intent refers to a person’s state of mind at the time that the individual commits a criminal act. A person who makes a conscious decision to do something prohibited by law is said to have criminal intent. This means that a person is aware that their behavior is wrong and that they can be subject to punitive consequences, but the person proceeds anyway. The law mentions four types of criminal intent, which include:

  • Willful or purposeful, which involves a person who is aware of their behavior but wants to see the result of their actions

  • Knowing the results that can occur from an act, but not necessarily having the purpose to cause the consequences of the action

  • Recklessly disregarding the results of an action

  • Negligently failing to behave as a reasonable person would in such a situation and leading to others being harmed

General vs. Specific Intent

Criminal law separates criminal intent as “specific” and “general” intent. To establish specific intent is similar to establishing purposeful criminal intent. This means that a person must be shown to have intended a criminal act as well as the act’s results. Meanwhile, general intent only requires a person to have the intent to commit a criminal offense. 

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

Following a charge or conviction for a criminal offense in Massachusetts, people are often left uncertain about what to do. One of the best steps you can take in such a situation is to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Schedule a free case evaluation with Attorney Edward R Molari today.

Four Things to Understand About Sharing Child Pornography Charges

A Swansea man was recently arrested on charges of child pornography. The man was charged with possessing pornography depicting children. Following the man’s first appearance in Boston federal court, the man was detained until his next hearing. The prosecutor on the case commented that his primary objective in pursuing this case was to see that the citizens of Massachusetts are kept safe. Additionally, the prosecutor commented that child pornography is a crime involving real victims, and that his department will dedicate its resources to protecting children. 

Law enforcement obtained information that the man had shared child pornography online through the use of a social media platform. During the police search of  the man’s home, his computer and phone were seized and were both found to contain child child pornography. The man had previously been convicted of the possession of child pornography, as well. 

Sharing child pornography is a serious offense in Massachusetts. Here are some important details about this offense.

What Type of Activity is Frequently Targeted?

One of the most common types of child pornography charges involves sharing files through peer-to-peer-based networks. People are sometimes charged with offenses even if they do not understand how these networks function. If you belong to one of these networks and have data on your computer that can be accessed by others, you can still be charged even though you might not know that someone else is engaging in taking data from your computer. 

How Sharing Child Pornography Differs From Possession

Reproducing and distributing child pornography is treated differently from possessing child pornography because it is viewed as a more serious criminal activity. Sharing this content allows more people to see it and share it again. Criminal charges related to distributing this type of data are often stricter than those associated with simply possessing this data for personal use.

How are These Cases Investigated?

Reproducing and distributing child pornography charges are investigated in a similar way as possession cases. If law enforcement believes that a person is part of a conspiracy or ring that is bigger than them, the investigation will likely occur over a longer timeframe. Law enforcement will also likely take more time to determine the size of the conspiracy.

Constitutional Issues Involved With Sharing Child Pornography

Issues involving the Fourth Amendment, which addresses illegal searches and seizures, are the most common constitutional defense that is brought up in these cases. Many times, the issue involves whether a search warrant exists to search a person or their property. If a warrant exists, situations might arise questioning whether probable cause was present. Probable cause is a legal question that often requires lengthy and evidence-heavy trials.

Contact a Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer

Sex crimes in Massachusetts carry serious penalties including potential imprisonment, fines, and a lasting tarnished reputation. One of the best things that you can do to respond to these charges is to obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Critical Questions to Ask Your Drug Crime Defense Attorney

An investigation into drug trafficking in Fall River and Taunton recently led to the arrest of seven individuals by the Massachusetts State Police. “Operation Shore Thing” also resulted in the seizure of around 1,950 grams of fentanyl, 51 grams of cocaine, 4,310 oxycodone tablets, two illegal firearms, and almost $100,000 in cash. The oxycodone and fentanyl are reported to be worth over $300,000 on the street. The District Attorney involved in the case commented that drugs involved in the seizure could tragically lead to countless fatal overdoses and that law enforcement will continue investigating drug organizations while holding those accountable for playing a role in contributing to addiction problems throughout the community.  

Law enforcement believes the group was responsible for dealing the drugs at both the street and mid-level throughout the area. Some of the charges brought against the individual include trafficking drug charges, conspiracy to violate the drug law, possession with intent to distribute, drug possession with intent to distribute, drug possession, drug distribution, firearm possession without identification, possession of a large capacity weapon, and possession with intent to distribute.

If you are facing drug charges, one of the best things that you can do is find a drug crimes defense attorney who can help you navigate this process and fight to defend your rights and freedom. Even though lawyers cannot guarantee certain results, the best drug defense attorney will provide you with knowledge and experience that make your case much easier to bear. There are some vital questions that you should make sure to ask your drug crime defense attorney.

The Lawyer’s History of Defending Against Drug Charges

After you select a potential defense attorney, you should make sure that you have full confidence in the lawyer’s ability to help you defend your case. Some questions you should ask your lawyer include:

  • How long the lawyer has been practicing

  • What is the lawyer’s experience with drug crime defense cases

  • How often the attorney works with similar cases

  • What is the end result for the lawyer’s previous cases

  • What defense strategy will work best for your case

Compensating Your Attorney

Public defenders often lack the experience necessary to help navigate drug charges successfully. If you need a defense lawyer, you should understand the costs associated with retaining a private drug lawyer to defend your case. Some questions that you should ask about the costs of hiring a defense attorney include the following: 

  • Will the attorney personally be handling your case, or another person at their firm?

  • What is the lawyer’s hourly rate or single flat fee?

  • Whether the lawyer offers payment plans or accepts credit cards

The Potential Outcome of Your Case

While your lawyer cannot promise a certain result in your case, they should be able to provide you with details that give you a realistic understanding of the potential outcome. Some of the questions addressing the outcome of your criminl case that you should make sure to ask your attorney include the following:

  • Whether you should accept a plea deal

  • What critical issues could impact your case

  • Whether alternative charges exist in your situation

  • If previous charges could influence the outcome of your case

Obtain the Help of a Drug Crime Defense Attorney

To dissuade people from using drugs, Massachusetts has established serious penalties for various drug crimes. If you or a loved one is charged with a drug-related offense, you are not alone. Contact Attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

The First Things to Do if You Have Been Accused of a Sex Offense

A man in Massachusetts is currently accused of trying to coerce two 15-year-old girls into performing sex acts at a Kingston mall. A report from the police department states the incident occurred a little after 5 p.m. on a Saturday. Law enforcement’s report includes various written statements of the different witnesses and victims who saw the incident occur.  

Based on the police report, the man offered to buy one of the girl’s food as well as sneakers to lure her to a “private” location. The man also lied about his age and stated he was 35. (In reality, the man turned 53 in May of 2022.) The man is also accused of requesting that the girl go home, following the girl throughout the mall, and suggesting that he wanted to “get in her pants.” Additionally, the police report states that the man attempted to lure another 15-year-old girl at the mall by offering to purchase her both marijuana and alcohol so he could “get in her pants” at a private location. At one point in the interaction, the girls even walked to a store but the man followed them and continued to participate in these sexual conversations with them.

How Law Enforcement Discovered the Man’s Actions

The police received information about the incident as the result of a call from a 13-year-old boy who is friends with the girls. The boy described the man to the 911 dispatcher, who then provided this information to security personnel at the mall, who were ultimately able to locate the man. The report provided by law enforcement states that the man admitted to interacting with the girls, but denied that the conversations were sexual. 

The Future of the Case

The man was ultimately arraigned in Plymouth District Court on two counts of enticing a child below the age of 16 as well as one count of accosting/annoying another individual. The man also expressed optimism that he will be able to successfully defend against the charges because the children will not show up to court. The man was held on a $25,000 cash bail or $250,000 security bond. The man is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial hearing later in May. 

What Important Steps You Should Take

Being charged with a sex crime in Massachusetts can be a scary experience. To make sure that your situation resolves in the best possible way, though, there are some steps that you should make sure to take immediately. These steps include:

  • Avoid talking to law enforcement or giving any kind of statement about the event that occurred. Do whatever you can to avoid speaking to the police without an attorney present. Remember, what you say can end up being used against you. Do not be afraid to exercise your right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment.

  • Preserving evidence is critical if you have been charged with some sex offenses. Whether this evidence includes clothing or emails, evidence is in danger of destruction which is why you should make sure to promptly preserve it.

  • Speak to and gather anyone who can speak about your presence and behavior at the time that the alleged offense occurred.

  • Promptly contact a criminal defense attorney. Even though you might think that hiring a lawyer makes you look guilty, this is the best way to make sure that your rights are protected.

Contact a Massachusetts Sex Crimes Defense Attorney 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts takes sex crimes very seriously. If you or a loved one is charged with a sex crime in Massachusetts, you should not hesitate to speak to an attorney like Edward R Molari

Complex Issues in Establishing Possession of Child Pornography

A man in Quincy was recently arrested after federal workers executed a search warrant at the man’s residence and located video footage on a computer owned by the man that depicted a child being sexually abused. The man was subsequently charged with possession of child pornography. 

The judge presiding over the case ordered the man to be detained in advance of a hearing. Federal workers, as well as local law enforcement, later executed a search warrant of the man’s residence in an attempt to find more incriminating evidence. The man shares his residence with his parents.

During their search, law enforcement discovered several pieces of electronics including two personal computers in the house’s basement. The man now facing charges told law enforcement that he was the only person who used this equipment. 

Additionally, federal law enforcement discovered two custom-built computers as well as a network drive, a type of storage device connected to a local area network that various devices within the network can then access. 

Notably, one of the computers was determined to contain a folder that held 401 video files that totaled 114 gigabytes of data. The most recently downloaded date for a file stored in the folder was toward the end of March, 2022. An early review of these electronics shows that many of the files depict various forms of child sex abuse. 

The Elements of Child Pornography Charges 

Any type of child pornography charge in Massachusetts is a challenge on multiple levels for the prosecution. While many other crimes like drug-related offenses require some type of corroborative evidence before charges can be brought against you, law enforcement and juries are inclined to believe unsubstantiated evidence against a person related to a child pornography offense. As a result, it is critical to obtain the assistance of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after charges are made. This way you can create the strongest defense possible.

What Constitutes Possession of Child Pornography?

If law enforcement finds child pornography on an individual’s computer, the prosecution will then need to establish that the computer was in the person’s possession. The prosecution will also need to establish that the individual knowingly possessed the file. This can introduce some complex issues in cases, which include:

  • Each time a website is viewed, media on the page are downloaded to a hard drive folder. These temporary “cache” files are then used by computers to more quickly load web pages the next time they are accessed by a user. These temporary files can remain on a person’s computer for months or years afterward. If any temporary files show a minor participating in any type of sexual activity, the computer’s owner will be considered in possession of child pornography.

  • People make the mistake of thinking that deleting files on a computer permanently removes them. In reality, these files are not erased. Instead, these files remain on a person’s computer. Until other data is written over these sectors, the files remain recoverable. Certain software can be used to recover files that a person thinks they have deleted by emptying the recycling or trash bin.

  • Some people end up accidentally downloading child pornography because these files unfortunately are prevalent on the internet. Accidentally downloading illegal pornography most often occurs when people utilize peer-to-peer (P2P) programs.

Contact a Sex Crime Defense Attorney

Massachusetts takes sex crimes seriously, particularly though involving children. If you or a loved one is charged with a sex crime involving a child, it is in your best to immediately contact an experienced defense lawyer like Attorney Edward R Molari

How to Store Your Firearm in Massachusetts Without Facing Charges

Sommerville law enforcement recently made multiple arrests following a shooting that occurred at a convenience store parking lot. Law enforcement executed a search warrant recently for a home in Dorchester and arrested both a 20-year-old and a juvenile for their participation in a shooting. Two additional men were also arrested during the search.  

Fortunately, no one was injured in the shooting. Stray bullets, however, broke several bedroom windows of girls who lived at the complex. The search warrant also resulted in the recovery of several firearms, including one that was fully automatic. Currently, each of the suspects faces multiple gun charges.

The Repercussions of Improper Firearm Storage 

If law enforcement decides to perform a search of your home in connection to your firearm, various charges can be brought against you for not properly storing your firearm. This can ultimately lead to a conviction that results in prison time and even the loss of the ability to obtain a license to have a firearm. 

For one reason, this is because Massachusetts law requires that if a person does not have the firearm immediately in his or her possession (meaning in the individual’s hands or close by where a person has immediate control over the firearm), the individual must appropriately store the firearm. The rationale behind this regulation is to ensure that firearms do not end up in the direct control of children or other people who might use the firearm to harm themselves or others. Not storing your firearm in accordance with this law can lead to a fine and even prison time.

The Two Lawful Ways to Store Firearms in Massachusetts

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, individuals are supposed to store their firearms in one of two ways. First, a person might have a tamper-resistant mechanical device directly placed on the gun. This might be a trigger or cable lock or anything else that has a key and combination that prevents individuals who are not authorized to use the firearm from doing so. In Massachusetts, firearm dealers are supposed to inform people about this when they purchase a firearm. A person might also store a firearm in a locked container, which might be a safe, locked vehicle trunk, locked glove box, or lockbox.

This means that if your firearm is simply sitting in a drawer in your house, law enforcement will not view this as lawful storage. You can be found in violation of improper storage regardless of whether you live alone and have no children. Often, this also means that having your firearm in a locked room in the house is often not viewed as sufficient. These situations often revolved around whether the room is secured. Only if your firearm has a tamper-resistant device or is located in a qualifying locked container will it be viewed as properly stored.

Speak With a Firearm Charge Lawyer Today

Various valuable (but complex) regulations in Massachusetts address how people should handle firearms. If you or a loved one is charged with a firearm-related offense, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Attorney Edward R Molari today for assistance.

How to Respond to a Warrant Out for Your Arrest

Law enforcement in Fall River arrested a man recently on active warrants related to both firearm and drug charges. A Fall River Sergeant reports that a law enforcement officer was on patrol in Fall River at the time the arrest occurred. While in the location, law enforcement observed a man exiting a vehicle that was parked in the parking lot of a McDonald’s. Law enforcement knew at this time that the man was the subject of an active arrest warrant.

The law enforcement officer then requested additional units to help in executing the arrest warrant. Fortunately, the man was then taken into custody on an outstanding arrest warrant without any complications. On arrest, law enforcement found that the man had a firearm tucked into his waistband. The man also had not been issued a license to carry by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and could not legally possess the firearm. In addition to the weapon, the man was also discovered to be in possession of over 100 Xanax pills for which he lacked a prescription. 

Besides charges related to the outstanding warrant, the man also now faces charges associated with felony firearm offenses as well as a possession to distribute a drug considered a Class A substance.  

If a warrant is out for your arrest, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. While various methods exist to learn about a charge against you, some of the most common methods of learning that a charge exists against you include being arrested or receiving a summons on the spot. Most of the time, arrests for felonies as well as misdemeanors occur at the time they are committed. 

A summons is often issued for traffic infractions like reckless driving or minor drug offenses. Other times, a person might not face charges related to a criminal offense until hours or weeks after the alleged offense occurs. When an individual is not arrested or a summons is not issued at the time of the offense, law enforcement is not obligated to reveal whether a warrant has been issued. Here is how to respond if you discover a warrant exists for your arrest. 

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you learn that a warrant was issued by a jurisdiction, you should promptly contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who will fight to make sure that your rights are protected and that you have the strongest defense available. Retaining a criminal defense attorney who appreciates your situation can provide you with an understanding of whether you can expect to be held in jail or released based on the circumstances associated with your case. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can promptly begin crafting your defense, negotiating with law enforcement and the prosecution, and helping to obtain the best outcome possible. 

Hand Yourself Over to the Appropriate Jurisdiction

After contacting a criminal defense attorney, the next best step is to arrange to turn yourself into the corresponding jurisdiction where you are wanted. If you go to a different jurisdiction, it can delay your release. 

Prepare for a Bond

Based on the nature of your charge, a magistrate might be able to arrange a bond. Some dangerous offenses like murder and rape have presumptions against release. This means that a judge has the choice to not arrange a bond for these charges. If the judge does not arrange a bond, it is critical to have your criminal defense attorney arrange a bond motion.

Avoid Making Recorded Statements

Regardless of whether you are promptly released or held, it is a good idea to avoid making any recorded statements during this process. Anything that you state to a law enforcement officer or an inmate could end up being used against you. If you provide incriminating statements, they can end up being used against you in the government’s case. 

Speak With a Drug Defense Attorney Today

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts takes drug charges very seriously and a conviction can lead to various penalties including jail time and hefty fines. If you or a loved one is charged with a drug crime in Massachusetts, one of the best things that you can do is contact an experienced defense attorney. Do not hesitate to contact Attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.