Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Three Things to Know About Massachusetts Firearm Charges

Law enforcement in Boston arrested nine individuals in September during five unrelated firearm incidents within one 24-hour period. One arrest occurred when law enforcement spotted a Jeep Cherokee that was reported as a stolen vehicle. After the Jeep crashed into the parked vehicle, three individuals ran from the vehicle. Two of these individuals were arrested while a third was identified and released. One of the individuals is facing several charges including carrying a dangerous weapon. The other four incidents occurred within three hours.  

The first incident occurred when law enforcement pulled a vehicle over and discovered a firearm with 10 live rounds of ammunition in a passenger’s pocket. This resulted in illegal weapon charges. 20 minutes later, law enforcement responded to calls about a shooting in Roxbury. After arriving at the scene, law enforcement saw a large crowd fighting outside a restaurant. Among the group was one man holding a gun in his hand. This man was arrested after he tried to run from the scene. Soon after, law enforcement arrested two more individuals and recovered a firearm at a traffic stop close to Dorchester’s Bowdoin Street and Adam Street. The fifth and last arrest occurred when law enforcement pulled over a vehicle. After discovering that this driver had only a learner’s permit and the passenger did not have a valid license, law enforcement discovered two guns.

If you were pulled over and arrested for unlawful possession of ammunition or a firearm, it is important to understand this serious offense can result in jail time if you are convicted. The following reviews some important things to understand about firearm charges in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Has Some of the Most Serious Firearm Penalties

Firearm as well as ammunition charges in Massachusetts are classified as some of the most stringent laws in the state. Under Massachusetts law, possessing a firearm or ammunition if you are not licensed to do so is classified as a criminal offense that can result in several years in prison as well as hundreds of dollars in fines. It is critical to act quickly and retain the assistance of legal counsel if you are charged with a firearm or ammunition related offense.

Recognize the Elements Associated With These Offenses

To be charged with an unlawful firearm or ammunition offense in Massachusetts, the prosecution must establish several elements to satisfy the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements include:

  • The person being charged had possession of the item.

  • The ammunition or firearm satisfies the state’s definition.

  • The person being charged was aware that the item was in his or her possession.

Massachusetts License Laws Apply to Ammunition and Firearms

Massachusetts license requirements apply to both firearms and ammunition. Licenses must be obtained through the appropriate police department. The state acknowledges several types of licenses that dictate what types of firearms a person can own and carry as well as the amount of ammunition a person can carry on them at any one time.

Speak With a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

Law enforcement in Massachusetts takes firearm offenses seriously. As a result, if you or a loved one is charged with an ammunition or firearm-related offense, it is in your best interest to promptly retain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Three Ways to Defend Against Larceny of a Motor Vehicle Charges

 

A Peapod delivery driver was making its rounds in September when a man hopped in the truck and drove off in an unknown direction. Law enforcement soon after responded to a call for the stolen vehicle and spoke with the victim to gain a description of both the suspect as well as details about the truck. Hours later, law enforcement spotted the vehicle traveling School Street in Jamaica Plain. Law enforcement followed the truck until it stopped in a driveway where law enforcement placed the driver under arrest. The suspect was later charged with larceny of a motor vehicle.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 28 addresses larceny of a motor vehicle. This law prohibits the act of stealing as well as buying, concealing, possessing, and receiving a motor vehicle that a person knows or has reason to know is stolen. The Commonwealth takes this offense seriously and a conviction can result in up to 15 years in prison as well as a fine of $15,000. As a result, it helps to understand there are several ways to respond to these charges. This article reviews just some of the most common ways to respond to these charges.

You Lacked the Intent to Steal the Vehicle

The prosecution in a larceny of a motor vehicle case must establish that the person being charged had the intent to steal the vehicle. This means that a person must have had the intent to permanently deprive someone else of use of the vehicle. As a result, the offense does not apply when a person decides that they only want to steal a vehicle for a short amount of time. If there is not sufficient evidence to establish intent to steal a vehicle, the prosecution will not be able to make a conviction.

You Believed the Vehicle Was Yours

If you took the vehicle with the belief that it was yours, you can likely create a strong argument that you did not have the intent to steal the vehicle. Sometimes, the prosecution might even make an error about ownership and the person being charged will be the owner of the vehicle. Other times, it might be possible to present evidence demonstrating that you had a lawful claim to the vehicle. 

Consent Was Given

To be convicted of larceny of a vehicle, the prosecution must establish that you took the property against the owner’s consent. As a result, if you can establish that the owner consented to your taking of the vehicle, you can create a strong defense to these charges.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Being convicted of stealing a motor vehicle can result in lasting consequences including large fines, imprisonment, and a tarnished social reputation. As a result, it is in your best interest to obtain the assistance of an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney to respond to these charges. Do not hesitate to schedule a free case evaluation with attorney Edward R Molari today.

 

Four Things to Know About the Charge of Misleading Law Enforcement

A woman in Quincy was arrested in September following a man’s stabbing death. The woman was taken into custody in Weymouth on a murder warrant that was issued from a Quincy District Court. The victim was stabbed to death in a parking lot close to the intersection of Hancock and Woodbine Streets in Quincy. Law enforcement was notified about the stabbing soon after and the victim was taken to Boston Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead. Besides the woman who was charged with the murder, law enforcement also arrested another woman who was charged with misleading law enforcement during the investigation. 

If you have been charged with misleading law enforcement in Massachusetts, you likely have several questions about these charges. The following outlines several important details that you should understand about these charges.

Massachusetts Takes the Offense of Misleading Law Enforcement Seriously

Prosecutors in Massachusetts are charging individuals with misleading law enforcement in growing numbers. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 268 Section 13B prohibits the activity and makes it a crime to mislead an individual who is performing a criminal investigation. 

What the Prosecution Needs to Satisfy a Charge

To convict a person of this charge, the prosecution need only establish that a person made a report of an offense to a law enforcement officer, that the report was false, that the defendant intentionally made the false report, and that the defendant knowingly made the false report to a law enforcement officer. Charges can then be prosecuted in either district or superior court. Because the Commonwealth takes these charges seriously, sentences can result in those who are convicted facing extended time in prison.

The Prosecution Must Prove You are Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

To be convicted of misleading law enforcement, the prosecution must establish that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Beyond a reasonable doubt means that the prosecution must convince the jury that there is no other reasonable explanation that can be made from the evidence at a trial. This standard means that there are several ways to establish that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence for a charge.  

Several Strong Defenses can be Raised to Charges of Misleading Law Enforcement

There are fortunately several strong defenses that can be raised in response to the charge of misleading law enforcement. One, a person might be able to argue that there was a mistake of fact and that the individual lacked the criminal intent to mislead law enforcement. It might also be possible to argue that the person to whom the report was made was not covered under the act or that the report was not false at the time that it was made. 

Retain the Assistance of a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with murder is one of the most serious criminal offenses in Massachusetts. To respond to these charges, it is critical to retain the assistance of a skilled lawyer who can help you make sure that you have the strongest criminal defense possible. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today for assistance.

Three Things to Know if You are Arrested for Growing Marijuana

Two New York City men were arrested on marijuana trafficking charges in August 2020 as the result of a multi-million-dollar marijuana operation they ran out of their Savoy home. Massachusetts law enforcement states that 3,598 marijuana plants estimated to be worth more than $3 million were discovered during a search of the home. The investigation came after Eversource utility workers responded to an electrical problem near the home and discovered that wires had been damaged and overloaded from excessive electricity being sent to the house. Law enforcement later found that utility records showed the home used $10,000 in electricity each month. Bail for both men was set at $100,000.

 

If you are charged in Massachusetts with growing marijuana, you can face serious penalties that can create challenges that last the rest of your life. Because “grow houses” are becoming more common throughout the country, law enforcement is pursuing these charges more aggressively than ever. To assess whether a person is growing marijuana, law enforcement utilizes various techniques including the analysis of electricity and water usage. There are several helpful tips to follow if you are charged with any offense related to the cultivation of marijuana. 

 

Law Enforcement Searches Must be Constitutional

 

Law enforcement officers must perform searches of property that are lawful and reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Warrantless searches by law enforcement officers are presumed to be unreasonable unless law enforcement can establish an exception to the warrant requirement. Even if law enforcement obtains a warrant, there are times when judges mistakenly issue warrants based on insufficient evidence. Remember, the Fourth Amendment only applies to the actions of government actors and does not apply to private citizens.

 

Not All Informants are Reliable 

 

Law enforcement often relies on testimonies from people who purchase marijuana from the cultivation center to prosecute these offenders. While informants can be utility workers, they are more often small scale marijuana dealers who view the cultivation as a threat to their business. Many times these informants provide law enforcement with information that is either a lie or a distortion of the truth. An aggressive attorney can help you vigorously cross-examine informants.

 

Detection Methods can Often be Attacked

 

While law enforcement might rely on an assessment of electricity usage to detect a grow house, law enforcement frequently relies on more advanced technology including electronic wiretaps, GPS tracking devices, and other types of cutting-edge technology. Sometimes if law enforcement uses these techniques to interfere in areas where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, it is possible to attack any evidence gained through this method. An experienced lawyer can assess each method that law enforcement utilized to make a charge.

 

Speak with a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

 

If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense in Massachusetts, it is critical to act quickly. Do not hesitate to contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

 

Three Defenses to Surveillance Footage

A man in Hyde Park was recently arrested after law enforcement released surveillance footage of the man attacking a child. While the man’s name has not yet been released, law enforcement has stated that the man is being charged with indecent assault, battery on a child under the age of 14, and lewd and lascivious conduct. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the assault, which occurred in the area between High and Bussey streets at the beginning of August 2020. Law enforcement has stated that they do not believe the man knew the child at the time of the attack.

 

If law enforcement has relied on surveillance footage to make a charge, it can prove difficult to attack this evidence and have it excluded from court. Simply because a video is admitted into a court of law, however, does not mean that the video establishes a person’s guilt. Instead, there are common surveillance footage issues that can be introduced to weaken this evidence. The following reviews some of the strongest strategies that can be used to attack surveillance footage.

 

Tampering With the Footage

 

There is always the chance that footage has been tampered with in some way. As technology has progressed over the last decade, it has become much easier for anyone to acquire software that can be used to edit a video or photograph. To decrease the risk of tampering, a clear chain of evidence must be shown for the footage. The footage also must come from a credible source. If these requirements are not satisfied, your lawyer can likely create a strong strategy to keep this evidence out of court.

 

Poor-Quality Footage

 

While the technology exists, the cost of obtaining high-quality cameras is still high. As a result, many businesses have poor-quality recording systems. This might mean that footage of an offense is blurry, too far away to clearly see anything, or shot from the wrong angle. In the case of poor quality footage, a defense lawyer can often establish that the footage does not accurately depict the person being charged.

 

The Footage is Incomplete

 

While footage often depicts the entirety of an act, this is not always the case. Sometimes, footage leaves our earlier incidents that better explain an accident. For example, a person who is charged with assault might have been protecting themselves from another person’s force. Other times, the footage might leave open questions about how the offense occurred. In these situations, an experienced defense lawyer can often argue that the footage is incomplete and positions the person being charged in a false light.

 

Speak with a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer

 

The state of Massachusetts takes crimes against minors seriously, and these convictions can result in substantial penalties. If you are charged with such an offense, it can greatly help the outcome of your case to retain the assistance of a skilled lawyer. Contact Edward R. Molari today.

 

Two Things You Should Know About Home-Made Guns

 

A man in Winthrop who built “ghost guns,” which are unregistered and untraceable, in his apartment was charged with criminal offenses in August 2020. Police also found 3,000 rounds of ammunition in the man's home as well as a copy of a book by Adolf Hitler. In response to these charges, the man pled not guilty at his arraignment in Suffolk Superior Court. The man came under attention due to a federal investigation into the illegal shipment of firearm suppressors and silencers. State police later searched the man’s apartment and found two 9mm ghost guns. 

 

Often sold as part of 80% kits in which the firearms are 80% constructed, ghost guns are not regulated as firearms and can be purchased without a gun license or background check. Instead, a buyer uses step-by-step instructions and household tools to make a working firearm. While the firearms should be registered on completion of the assembly, not everyone does so, and earlier this year there were several cases involving criminal charges against people who made or sold ghost guns. 

 

The man in Winthrop was not licensed to have a firearm and had a history of arrests involving violent gun use. Currently, the man remains out on bail. 

 

Massachusetts Firearm Laws Mostly Do Not Apply to Ghost Guns

 

While technologically impressive, “ghost guns” as well as other cutting edge techniques used to make guns involve important considerations, particularly if a person has a criminal history. While Massachusetts has numerous firearm laws, these regulations do not apply to ghost gun kits because they are not classified as firearms by either the state or federal government. Once a person builds the firearm, however, the weapon must be registered with the state. Despite these registration requirements, there are no sales records for most ghost guns, and as a result, it is often impossible to trace the origin of a firearm. While federal law in 2013 was created to prohibit ghost gun kits used to create assault weapons, this regulation failed.

 

3D-Printed Guns Also Involved

 

Similar to assembling a firearm from a ghost gun kit, some people utilize 3D printers to make homemade firearms. 3D printing is a process in which a three-dimensional model is designed on a computer and a printer then places successive layers of material to conform to this pattern. While 3D prints were once prohibitively expensive, these printers are now more modestly priced. 3D-printed guns do not require background checks, registrations, or serial numbers. Because the federal Undetectable Firearms Act makes any firearm that cannot be detected with a metal detector illegal, every firearm is required to contain at least some metal. As a result, metal plates must be placed in 3D printed guns, but it is often impossible for law enforcement to enforce this regulation. 

 

Retain an Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer

 

Firearm charges in Massachusetts can result in serious penalties, but a skilled attorney can help. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

 

 

Three Things to Remember About Intent to Distribute Charges

Holyoke law enforcement and the FBI Western Mass Gang Task Force recently arrested a man and woman for drug trafficking after locating more than 4,200 bags of heroin and 460 bags of cocaine in their vehicle. The search of the couple’s vehicle also revealed $3,923 in cash and several two-way radios, which are commonly used in dealing drugs on a street level. Law enforcement stated that neither man nor woman was willing to discuss the drugs. 

 

The two were charged with trafficking in 100 grams or more of heroin as well as possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The man who was the driver of the vehicle was also charged as a habitual traffic offender for operating the vehicle after his license was revoked. Both the man and woman were held overnight at Hampden County jails.

 

Intent to distribute charges in Massachusetts carry serious penalties. The following reviews three things that you should remember about intent to distribute charges.

 

Utilize Strategies to Keep the Drugs Out of Court

 

If you are facing intent to distribute charges, one of the first steps that your lawyer will help you take is to keep any evidence of the drugs out of court. Courts rely on various rules to determine what evidence can be admitted to trial. Some of the most common strategies include:

 

  • The drugs were the result of an unlawful search or seizure. If the drugs were only obtained by law enforcement as the result of an unlawful search or seizure, this evidence will likely be dismissed before trial. It is common for law enforcement to claim that they had consented to search a vehicle, but consent cannot be the result of coercement. 

  • Illegal searches or stops. If law enforcement relied on an illegal reason to perform a search or stop of a vehicle without evidence, the resulting evidence will likely be suppressed.

  • Reliability of drug-sniffing canines. Law enforcement in Massachusetts is using an increasing number of canines to detect the presence of drugs. Fortunately, it is often possible to challenge whether these dogs were sufficiently trained or clearly indicated to law enforcement if drugs were found in a vehicle.

 

There are Ways to Respond if You Did Not Know About the Drugs

 

There are cases in which a passenger in a vehicle is not aware that drugs were in a vehicle. Fortunately, in these situations, it is often possible to respond to intent to distribute charges on the basis that the person being charged did not actually know about the substances. In these cases, the prosecution almost always cannot establish the intent aspect of the offense.

 

Appreciate How Law Enforcement Distinguishes Between Drug Dealers and Users

 

Sometimes, law enforcement arrests individuals with a small number of drugs and charges them with the intent to distribute because these individuals also locate various instruments used to sell drugs like baggies, cell phones, scales, or walkie talkies. If there is an absence of these instruments, law enforcement often requires a substantial amount of drugs to charge a person with intent to distribute. 

 

Speak a Knowledgeable Drug Defense Attorney

 

If you are charged with any type of drug-related offense in Massachusetts, you should not hesitate to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

 

When can Law Enforcement Search Your Phone?

 

A suburban Boston man was arrested recently and charged with the receipt and possession of child pornography. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations as well as the FBI and Massachusetts police. The man was later charged with one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. The charge was initially made after an examination of the man’s phone revealed both images and videos depicting child pornography. The man made an initial appearance through video conference in federal court.

 

Phones play a valuable role in our lives. Unfortunately, there are several ways that law enforcement officers can lawfully access details stored on your phone, besides arrest. The following reviews some of the most common of these situations.

 

Data Stored Outside Your Cell Phone

 

A great deal of information can be stored on the cloud rather than directly on your phone. Unfortunately, if you back up details from your iPhone to Apple’s Cloud, the government can obtain details from Apple. Assuming that law enforcement proceeds through the proper channels, they can most access information that is stored outside of your device. For example, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 states what law enforcement must do in order to obtain this information, which frequently requires a court order, search warrant, or subpoena based on what law enforcement wants to find. 

 

Data You Shared with Someone Else

 

If law enforcement wants to obtain information that you shared with someone else, a warrant is not necessary provided that the other party is willing to hand over this information. This is because you do not have a Fourth Amendment interest in messages that are received by someone else.

 

Personal Data Stored on Your Phone Through Warrant or Subpoena

 

When it comes to the information stored on your phone, there is a possibility that law enforcement cannot access the data. Sometimes, however, law enforcement can access this data. Provided that you do not have a passcode or law enforcement uses a specialized passcode-cracking program and have the warrant to do so, they can access this information. If your phone is locked with a passcode, and law enforcement cannot crack your password, the information might remain protected by the Fifth Amendment which states that you cannot be compelled to provide self-incriminating evidence.

 

You Have Passed Away

 

If you die with incriminating evidence on your phone, it is important to remember that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments often end when a person’s life does. If law enforcement is able to access data on the phone on its own, this evidence can often be obtained. If law enforcement cannot access this data, the phone manufacturer’s approach to privacy problems will often address this situation. 

 

Contact the Services of a Skilled Massachusetts Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer

 

The state of Massachusetts takes sex crimes seriously, and being convicted of such an offense can result in various penalties including lasting social stigma, fines, and imprisonment. If you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, do not hesitate to contact attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

 

Three Tips for Responding to Weapons Charges

 

Two people were placed in custody on July 25 following a shootout at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree that resulted in a teen bystander being injured. Law enforcement surrounded the mall after receiving reports that shots were fired. One of the men who was arrested now faces multiple weapons and assault-related charges. The man is now being held without bail at the Braintree Police Department. Law enforcement later stated that they believed the incident was a targeted incident of violence rather than a random act.

 

Weapons charges often arise in one of two situations. Law enforcement raises these charges as an add-on charge to a violent crime, or law enforcement searches a person or a vehicle after making contact for a preliminary reason like a traffic stop. To prepare you for responding to these charges, the following reviews four tips for responding to weapon charges.

 

Law Enforcement Must Have Lawfully Found Your Weapon

 

Regardless of the surrounding details, law enforcement must have lawfully found your weapon. Some lawful ways in which law enforcement can discover weapons include:

 

  • The weapon was in “plain view” when law enforcement arrived or the weapon became visible without law enforcement taking any additional action.

  • Law enforcement is permitted to “stop and frisk” someone if they have reasonable suspicion that the individual either has or is about to commit a criminal offense and that the individual is armed.

  • A search was made by law enforcement based on facts that would have led a reasonably prudent person to believe that the search would reveal a weapon.

  • When law enforcement takes an individual into custody, law enforcement can search for weapons to ensure their safety. 

 

Remember Your Right to Remain Silent

 

Besides constitutional arguments, many firearm offenses also require law enforcement to require proof of either specific intent or knowledge. Law enforcement is known to ask whether a person owned the firearm and what their use for the weapon was while investigating the offense. This might seem like a harmless question. In reality, law enforcement often relies on this information to prove a charge against you. If you are questioned about a weapon offense, avoid providing information about your permit, your name, or your address.

 

Understand What Happens if Law Enforcement Does Not Have a Valid Reason

 

If law enforcement lacks a valid reason for discovering your weapon, remember that the Fourth Amendment protects from unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement did not find the weapon through a lawful means, this evidence is likely unconstitutional and not admissible as evidence in a court of law. If a weapon is found inadmissible, the underlying charge will likely also be dismissed.

 

Speak with an Experienced Violent Crimes Defense Attorney

 

If you or a loved one is charged with a violent crime in Massachusetts, understand that a conviction can result in serious penalties. As a result, you should not hesitate to speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today for assistance.

 

How a Defective Headlight can Lead to Prison

A traffic stop at the end of June 2020 for a defective headlight in Boston resulted in Massachusetts State Police seizing two firearms and arresting three men who attempted to flee from the scene. When questioned, the driver stated that he did not have a license. 

When the vehicle was about to be towed, law enforcement stated that the two passengers sprinted away and that one dropped a handgun. Law enforcement chased the men. One of the men was holding something close to his right hip as he ran, but fell to the ground and gave the item up. Law enforcement found a gun after searching for the man. In all, two fully loaded firearms were seized. 

Law enforcement officers in Massachusetts often stop motorists for moving and traffic violations, but a stop for something like a defective headlight usually does not end up in a search of a vehicle unless the officer finds reasonable suspicion that the motorist is in violation of much more serious laws.

How Law Enforcement Finds Reasonable Suspicion

For law enforcement to have a reason to validly search a vehicle, they must have reasonable suspicion that the driver or passenger is doing something illegal. Often, reasonable suspicion is the result of a law enforcement officer observing something like a person in a vehicle drinking alcohol, drugs being out in the open, or open or observable firearms in a vehicle. Without any facts that support reasonable suspicion, a subsequent arrest is often not lawful. Law enforcement also requires reasonable suspicion, which is more than a hunch, to search the stopped vehicle or this constitutes a violation of the US Constitution.

If a law enforcement officer stopped a vehicle with a broken signal, and there were no other incriminating details present, this would almost certainly not be justification to search the vehicle. If contraband or some other illegal activity was visible through the window or the officers could smell either drugs or alcohol, this might give grounds for reasonable suspicion on which to base a search.

The Role of Probable Cause

Provided that a motorist does not allow them to do so, law enforcement must have probable cause to search a vehicle. If law enforcement stops a person for a broken tail light, this does not mean that the officer now has the authority to search the vehicle. Legitimate reasons to stop a driver do not also constitute probable cause. Instead, law enforcement often will stop the driver and ask them enough questions to see if it provides grounds for probable cause and the search of the vehicle. 

This is why if you are pulled over by a police officer, you should not give any more details than what the officer requests. Other than this information, you should remain silent throughout the encounter. Any information you provide the officer during the stop can later be used against you by law enforcement. 

Speak with a Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney

To avoid facing undesirable charges, you should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

 

Pages