Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Alcohol-Related Criminal Offenses in Massachusetts

Law enforcement in Berlin recently arrested a man who was illegally transporting more than $36,000 of alcohol on Interstate 495. Law enforcement who arrested the man claimed that the driver’s vehicle had a failed inspection sticker and was swerving. Additional photos show boxes of liquor stacked to the roof inside of the vehicle. The man was later arrested for transporting more than $36,000 of liquor. The driver was later charged with unlawful transport of liquor, marked lane violations, and operating a motor vehicle with a failed inspection. 

While many of us are familiar with Massachusetts operating under the influence (OUI) laws, there are several other alcohol-related laws in Massachusetts about which drivers must be mindful. The following briefly reviews these rules so Massachusetts drivers can be mindful of avoiding unforeseen complications while driving.

Transporting Alcohol

In Massachusetts, it is against the law to transport more than three gallons of any alcoholic beverage or one gallon of alcohol if a person does not have a permit. Similarly, it is against the law to transport more than 20 gallons of malt beverage (or seven 30 packs of beer). In most cases in which people are arrested for this offense, they are attempting to purchase alcohol in a state without liquor tax then transport the liquor across the borderline and illegally resell it. Being convicted of this offense can result in a fine of up to $2,500 or up to six months in prison. 

This law, however, only applies to individuals who are 21 years of age or older. If you are under the age of 21 and there is alcohol anywhere in your vehicle, you can face serious consequences. Additionally, minors who are caught unloading alcohol from vehicles can also face penalties. 

The best way to avoid being charged with these offenses is for individuals under the age of 21 to avoid drinking or transporting alcohol. Similarly, all individuals in Massachusetts should avoid transporting alcohol in large quantities.

Open Container Laws

It is against the law to have an open container of alcohol in any vehicle in Massachusetts. It is similarly against the law to transport alcohol containers with broken seals. These laws apply even if everyone in a vehicle is at least 21 years of age. Potential penalties for violating this regulation include up to $500 in fines. 

Keg Regulations

There are various local laws in Massachusetts regarding the use or possession of kegs. For example, an application for a keg license must be filed with the Amherst Police Department at least five days before an event, or risk facing fines. To avoid these complications, it is a wise idea to research local laws before purchasing a keg.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

There are many alcohol-related criminal offenses in Massachusetts, and conviction of these offenses carries several complications including fines and potential imprisonment. One of the best ways to respond to these charges is to retain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact criminal defense attorney Edward Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.

 

Defending Against Armed Robbery Charges

A man in Canton was recently arrested after law enforcement claimed that he robbed a CVS with an AIDS-filled syringe. The Canton Police Department soon responded to the scene, where they informed by a store clerk that a man had robbed the store with a syringe filled with the AIDS virus. 

The robber was later seen in a nearby parking lot. When law enforcement approached the man, he ran from the scene. Law enforcement eventually caught him at a nearby gas station and subdued him with a Taser. An investigation is still ongoing, but the man has since been charged with armed robbery.

If you or a loved one faces a charge of armed robbery, it is important to understand that this is classified as a serious criminal offense in Massachusetts and the penalties can be harsh. There are, however, several ways to defend against armed robbery charges. The best defense begins with an understanding of how these charges are made.

The Elements of a Massachusetts Armed Robbery Charge

To be convicted of armed robbery, four elements must be satisfied:

  • The defendant must have been in possession of or threatened to use a deadly weapon. While this often includes guns and knives, it can also include more unusual things like a syringe full of the AIDS virus. The actual weapon need not be used during the robbery, but the threat of a weapon is sufficient. 

  • The victim must have been physically hurt or the defendant’s threat of harm must have made the victim fearful of being harmed. 

  • The defendant must have taken the victim’s property or the prosecution must show that the victim intended to steal the property. 

  • The defendant must have taken the property against the victim’s will.

If a person is convicted of armed robbery, there is the potential that he or she could end up spending life in prison. At a minimum, a person convicted of armed robbery in Massachusetts can receive a sentence of five years in prison.

Ways to Defend Against Armed Robbery Charges

There are fortunately several grounds on which to base a strong-armed robbery defense. Some of these defenses include:

  • Arguing that the prosecution has failed to prove every element of the criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution can meet this standard, the robbery charges must be dropped. 

  • Sometimes, it is possible to argue that law enforcement arrested an individual based on instinct rather than probable cause. There must be evidence that the individual committed the criminal offense for an arrest to occur. 

  • One of the most common ways to get a charge dropped is arguing that law enforcement performed an unlawful search or seizure. If an individual is charged with armed robbery because of evidence that was illegally obtained, a Fourth Amendment argument can be used.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Armed robbery is a serious crime in Massachusetts and results in substantial penalties. As a result, it is critical to retain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer to respond to these charges. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free initial case evaluation.

Understanding Massachusetts Marijuana Laws

Law enforcement in Peabody recently arrested two men and seized illegal marijuana products. Photos posted on the department’s Facebook page later revealed boxes full of marijuana-laced Wonka bars, Nerds Ropes, and other candy. The candy is believed to have a street value of $1.2 million. The two men were arrested after neighbors assisted in the investigation. Following the arrest, Peabody law enforcement commented that the illegal drug black market in the state is still viable. 

The bust comes as police departments nationwide have warned parents to be “vigilant” about their children’s Halloween candy. Police in Pennsylvania earlier this month seized bags of Nerds Ropes containing THC.

In November 2016, voters in Massachusetts approved a ballot that put an end to marijuana prohibitions for adults who are 21 and older. While this law made it legal for an adult in the state to grow and possess Cannabis, there still complexities to these laws. The following will review some of the most important things to remember about Massachusetts marijuana law so you can avoid facing prosecution. 

Marijuana Laws Must be Followed in Massachusetts

Some of the important regulations that you must remember to follow in Massachusetts regarding marijuana include:

  • You must be 21 or older to purchase and use marijuana even though there are medical exceptions to this law.

  • You need not be a resident of Massachusetts to purchase and use marijuana in the state. Instead, all that a person needs is a government ID.

  • A person cannot use marijuana of any type on either federal or public land.

  • A person is allowed to have up to one ounce of cannabis on them and no more than 10 ounces of marijuana in their home.

  • A person can grow no more than six marijuana plants in their home. If two or more individuals reside in a home, they are allowed to grow up to 12 plants.

  • If there is more than one ounce of marijuana in your home, it must be locked up so children and pets are kept safe. 

  • While transporting marijuana in a vehicle, the marijuana must be stored in a closed container in the trunk or a locked glove compartment.

  • It is against the law to have an open container of marijuana in any form in the passenger area of a vehicle while on the road or in a location where it can be accessed by the public. 

  • Employers, landlords, and towns throughout Massachusetts are permitted to have their own policies concerning the use of marijuana. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been charged with a violation of a marijuana violation in Massachusetts, you can end up facing serious consequences. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney like Edward R Molari in these situations. 

A Massachusetts Lawyer can Help Defend You Against Assault Charges

A man in Mattapan was recently arrested after assaulting a woman while she was walking along a Boston bike path. The arrest came after a Lincoln Police Department officer encountered a man who matched the suspect’s description. The man has since been arraigned on charges of assault and battery as well as assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. 

Assault is a criminal offense that is defined in several ways. Sometimes, the offense involves intentionally making another individual feel that they are about to be physically harmed. Physical injury is not necessary to establish this type of assault charge. A “battery” refers to actual physical contact. There are also more serious assault charges recognized in Massachusetts including aggravated assault, indecent assault, and several types of assault and battery. 

Assault in Massachusetts can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. Regardless of the exact type of charges that you face, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help ensure your rights are protected. 

Steps to Take if You Have Been Accused of an Assault

One of the first steps that you should take if you have been accused of an assault is to retain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If you have been falsely accused of assault, it is critical to remember that you can still be convicted. 

In many situations, it becomes necessary to retain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has the knowledge and experience necessary to make sure you successfully navigate the criminal justice system. 

Some of the other helpful steps you should take include:

  • Preserve any evidence or details about your case. Often, the best way to do this is by writing down your own narrative of how the events occurred. 

  • Make a list of anyone who saw the events occur and who will be able to provide testimony that will help your case. 

  • While a lawyer will provide a lot of guidance during this difficult time, it is also a wise idea to teach yourself about the criminal justice system. 

  • Understand your rights. This means that if you are questioned by law enforcement, you have the right to remain silent. Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, you also have the right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. 

Defenses That can be Raised in Response to Assault Charges

Even if you have become falsely accused of assault, it sometimes becomes necessary to create a strong defense strategy. Some of the best ways to respond to these charges include:

  • Arguing that you have been falsely accused as a result of mistaken identity.

  • Arguing that you only acted in self-defense or to defend someone around you.

  • Arguing that you were protecting your home. To successfully argue this defense, you must establish that you had a reasonable belief that the other person was about to cause serious bodily injury and that you only used reasonable force for defense.

The Importance of Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been accused of committing an assault, the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer with the requisite knowledge is essential. A seasoned criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system to increase the chances that your case proceeds in the best possible manner. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Responding to False Accusations of Domestic Violence

A Massachusetts superior judge was recently arrested for grabbing her wife by the hair and yanking her head back during an argument. The Judge, who resides in Worcester Superior Court, was arraigned in Marlborough District Court on a charge of domestic assault and battery. Police reports and records reveal that the judge argued law enforcement should let her go because she is a judge. The victim of the accident informed law enforcement that the judge had pulled her hair. 

The 21st century has seen the advancement of women’s rights, but unfortunately, not everyone reasonably uses domestic violence laws. Instead, there are cases of people using domestic violence laws to advance a settlement. In other cases, vindictive former lovers falsely accuse partners of domestic violence as a means of seeking revenge. This is because being convicted of domestic violence can result in complications that you face for the rest of your life. Some of the challenges that can result from these complications are a destroyed social reputation and loss of custody rights. This is why it is important to remain proactive and to take some helpful steps to reduce the risk of facing domestic violence allegations. 

Understand What Constitutes Domestic Violence

One of the best steps to take in preventing domestic violence is to understand the various actions this category includes. Typically, domestic violence is divided into three categories — economic abuse, psychological violence, and sexual violence. While many people are familiar with hitting someone and rape as a type of domestic violence, there are many other ways domestic violence can occur including stalking, threatening to ruin a partner’s reputation or other types of harassing behavior. 

Avoid Fights

Whenever possible, avoid getting into a fight with the other person. This means not yelling or saying derogatory things. If you do end up in a heated argument, do whatever you can to diffuse the disagreement. 

Get Witnesses

Many domestic violence cases resort to he said/she said disagreement. As a result, it is a wise idea to have witnesses who can make statements supporting your character. Slightly related to this is to always make sure to speak the truth around others. 

Anticipate Possible Disagreements

If you believe that a person wants to falsely accuse you of domestic violence as a means of seeking revenge, it is a wise idea to anticipate these arguments. If you believe that a partner would act in this way, you should anticipate these arguments and begin collecting evidence that can be used to support your case.

Speak with a Domestic Violence Lawyer

If you face any type of domestic violence charge, you should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of a family law attorney who has substantial experience helping people respond to these charges. Attorney Edward R Molari will review the facts of your case and help you create the strongest legal strategy possible. Contact our law office today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

Massachusetts Court to Consider Warrantless License Plate Tracking

The highest court in Massachusetts is poised to consider a case that has the potential to change how law enforcement can use data gathered by automated license plate readers. The central question in the case of Commonwealth v. Jason McCarthy is whether law enforcement must obtain a court order or search warrant to use the information provided by automated license plate readers, which automatically scan the license plates of passing vehicles. 

How the Facts of the Case Arose

Brian McCarthy and Brian Whittemore were arrested on drug-related charges. The arrest occurred while law enforcement was investigating Whittemore for drug dealing and spotted McCarthy’s mother’s vehicle at Whittemore’s house. Using automated license plate readers, law enforcement tracked McCarthy’s vehicle. The police later followed McCarthy and observed what they determined to be a drug deal. Later, law enforcement seized money McCarthy used to pay bail on the basis that it was believed to be drug money. 

Arguments Presented by Both Sides

McCarthy’s case involves the argument that law enforcement violated his privacy rights through the use of license plate readers. Because his privacy rights were invaded, McCarthy argues that all seized evidence should be suppressed. Lawyers on behalf of McCarthy state that he has a right to be left free from government surveillance to this degree without the oversight of a judge.

On the opposite side of this argument is the prosecution, who argues that someone driving on a public roadway does not have an expectation of privacy. Because McCarthy had no expectation of privacy, law enforcement argues that his rights were not invaded by this search. 

The Role of License Plate Readers in Massachusetts

Since 2014, license plate readers have been used by law enforcement in Massachusetts. While law enforcement has grown to depend heavily on these searches, they have also been met with opposition by some parties. 

In response, the ACLU has been requesting that the Commonwealth create limits regarding how these devices can be used as well as how data gathered from this equipment is stored and accessed. The ACLU and other organizations have even proposed a bill that would limit the amount of time law enforcement has to store data gathered from license plate readers. Massachusetts legislatures have also considered measures of this type, but they have never been passed. Law enforcement, however, has commented that these regulations would interfere with their ability to investigate crimes. In response, the ACLU has argued that there should still be controls on these searches because otherwise, law enforcement would be able to obtain potentially invasive details about individuals including their marital fidelity and religious observances. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

There are several ways in which law enforcement in Massachusetts can gather details about a person. Fortunately, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help respond to these charges. If you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, do not hesitate to contact attorney Edward R. Molari today.

 

Understanding Massachusetts Animal Cruelty Charges

A man in Massachusetts was recently arrested after attempting to harm animals through the use of peanut butter baits that contained razor blades. Law enforcement arrested the man after receiving a tip-off about the man’s activity. During initial surveillance, officers from the Marine and Environmental Services reported that they had spotted the man baiting the tree and watching as animals were lured to his trap inside Falmouth’s Goodwill Park. 

It remains uncertain when the man began trapping or how often he did it. As a result of this activity, the man is now charged with animal cruelty, reckless behavior creating a risk of serious bodily injury, and injuries to trees. According to Massachusetts Law Enforcement, the man has since been released on bail after his weekend arrest. In addition to facing criminal penalties, the public also expressed disgust for the behavior after several photos of the man were posted online. 

In 2014, animal abuse laws in Massachusetts were greatly expanded. The Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS) increased punishments for existing animal abuse crimes as well as created a mandatory requirement for veterinarians to report abuse. Currently, the PAWS act states that the punishment for animal abuse ranges from five to seven years in prison as well as fines of $5,000. This article reviews some other important details about animal abuse charges that you should know. 

Animal Abuse in Massachusetts is a Felony

Under current Massachusetts laws, animal cruelty is classified as a felony. Fortunately, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can sometimes help reduce these charges to misdemeanors. A person has a great chance of receiving a charge less than a felony if either they have a strong defense or the prosecution has weak grounds on which to base a conviction. 

Types of Animal Abuse Massachusetts Recognizes

There are several types of animal abuse recognized in Massachusetts, which include:

  • Animal abandonment. This category applies when a person leaves a pet behind after moving or refuse to let an animal return into a home.

  • Animal cruelty. This category comprises things like intentional torture as well as physical violence.

  • Animal neglect. This category includes things like not providing an animal with sufficient food or water.

  • Extreme heat. An individual who has custody of an animal cannot leave it in their vehicle during extreme weather conditions that would endanger the animal’s health. 

If a person is convicted of animal cruelty in Massachusetts, the individual can end up facing serious penalties. The exact consequences that a person faces depends on whether the offense was a first time or subsequent offense. 

Penalties break down in the following manner:

  • First offense. This penalty can result in up to seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. 

  • Second and subsequent offenses offense. Individuals convicted of this offense can end up facing 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000. 

In addition to these penalties, an individual will also forfeit any rights to ever work with or around animals in Massachusetts. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Given the serious consequences that can result from a conviction for animal cruelty, it can help to speak with an experienced Massachusetts criminal lawyer. Experienced criminal defense lawyer Edward R. Molari can help respond to these charges. Contact attorney Molari’s office today to schedule an initial free consultation. 

How to Defend Against Massachusetts Machine Gun Charges

Law enforcement in Lynn recently arrested two men for possession of a machine gun after stopping the motorists for a vehicle violation. The two men were subsequently charged with possession of a machine gun, possession of a large capacity weapon, and possession of a firearm and ammunition without a permit.  

While law enforcement was taking the two men into custody, an officer found a MasterPiece Arms 9 mm pistol as well as a 30-round magazine. The men were then released on a $1,000 bail.

Massachusetts Law Addressing Machine Guns

Massachusetts law prohibits the possession of a machine gun, except for specific exemptions that are created by law including the use of machine guns by some members of law enforcement. State code defines a machine gun as any loaded or unloaded weapon that is capable of automatically or rapidly discharging shots by one activation of the trigger.

The Penalties Associated with the Use of a Machine Gun

The state of Massachusetts takes offenses involving machine guns particularly serious. Possession of a machine gun can result in a person facing between 18 months up to a maximum of life in prison. The reason why the commonwealth takes machine gun offenses so seriously is that the weapons are frequently used in the commission of very violent offenses. 

Arguing that Prosecution Failed to Satisfy All Elements of an Offense

There are certain elements that must be satisfied to justify a conviction involving a submachine gun. For one, the firearm must meet the court’s definition of a machine gun. Consequently, some people who are charged with this offense end up retaining the assistance of a ballistics experts who can argue that the involved item does not satisfy the court’s definition of a machine gun.  

Other Defenses That can be Raised in Response to Machine Gun Charges

Some of the other defenses that can be raised in response to a charge of machine gun possession include the following: 

  • If a machine gun was seized as the result of an unlawful search by law enforcement, it is possible to file a motion to suppress evidence. This is because the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects an individual against unreasonable searches and seizures.

  • Most machine gun charges involve establishing that the firearm was in a person’s “possession,” which can be a difficult element of an offense to prove. A skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to review the facts of your case and help create a strong argument that you were not in possession of a firearm.

  • Prosecution also must establish that a person knowingly possessed a machine gun. It can be difficult to meet this element of an offense. Without establishing that a person knew of a machine gun’s presence, however, prosecution will not be able to convict a person. 

Speak With an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorney Edward Molari has substantial experience helping people in Massachusetts defend against a number of different types of charges including those related to machine guns. 

If you are facing a weapons charge, it is important to understand that the resulting penalties could create a number of challenges that you end up facing for the rest of your life. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Responding to Charges of Criminal Trespass

 

A Massachusetts law enforcement officer was recently stripped of his gun and placed on restricted duty after the office was arrested at an Iron Maiden concert at the Xfinity Center for trespassing.  

The arrest occurred after a parking attendant informed Mansfield law enforcement that an argument was developing between two parties in the parking lot of the concert. Law enforcement later observed the officer having an argument with a woman. According to law enforcement, the man initially ignored instructions and refused to present identification. Instead, the man continued yelling at the woman. 

Trespassing might seem like a minor criminal offense, but it can result in some undesirable consequences that last for years to come. For example, details regarding a criminal conviction will appear on a person’s criminal history, which can lead to a number of challenges in pursuing a career, housing, or an education. 

Fortunately, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you create a strong legal strategy to defend against these charges. 

Penalties Associated with Trespassing

There are several penalties that a person in Massachusetts can receive as a result of a trespassing conviction. For example, a person convicted of trespass can face a maximum of 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $100. 

While these penalties might not seem as serious as other criminal offenses, they will still result in a person being viewed as having a criminal record. Fortunately, there are a number of defenses that can be raised in response to these charges.

Trespassing Defense Strategies

There are a number of defense strategies we can use to successfully beat trespassing charges. There is almost always more to the story then a person accidentally and without permission wandering onto public or private property. 

Instead, most people in Massachusetts are not charged with criminal trespass unless they trespass in a deliberate manner. One common defense is arguing that prosecution has failed to satisfy all of the elements of a criminal offense. 

Massachusetts law states that trespass occurs when a person without right enters or remains in an area after having been forbidden to do so by the individual who has lawful control of the property. This means that if prosecution is able to establish that a person was permitted to enter an area, it will not be possible to justify a trespass conviction. 

If a person receives a criminal citation, a lawyer can review the details of the case and sometimes even dismiss the charges at a hearing. If a person has already been arrested or other charges are involved, this can make matters much more complicated. Even in these situations, however, it is often still possible to avoid a conviction. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with trespass might seem minor, but it can lead to a number of unanticipated and undesirable obstacles. If you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, do not hesitate to contact attorney Edward R. Molari

 

Strategies to Defend Against Drug Possession Charges

 

Law enforcement in Monson recently arrested a woman who described as a “habitual heroin dealer” after she was accused of selling drugs to two people. 

Consequently, the woman was charged with two counts of distribution of heroin as well as conspiracy to violate drug laws. Following the arrest, law enforcement also seized 39 bags of what is believed to be heroin as well as $180 in cash. Bail was set at $25,000 and the woman is currently being held in a Massachusetts correctional center. 

If you have been charged with possession of an illegal drug in Massachusetts, you have several options to proceed. There are a number of defenses that can be raised in response to drug charges. The following will review some of the most common tactics used to defend against drug possession charges.

Failure to Satisfy the Elements of an Offense

One of the most common strategies used to defend against a possession charge is to establish that law enforcement has failed to establish each element of an offense. For example, prosecution must establish that you actually possessed the illegal substance to justify a conviction. 

In addition to arguing that a person did not actually possess an illegal substance, it might also be possible to claim that, based on its chemical composition, a substance was not illegal to possess.

Constitutional Defenses to Drug Possession Charges

The United States Supreme Court case of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts made it much more difficult to establish the necessary elements for a drug possession charge. 

In this case, the United States Supreme Court held that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts could not rely on affidavits from a chemist claiming that a substance is an illegal narcotic. Instead, the Supreme Court held that the Commonwealth would be required to call the chemist as a witness concerning the substance’s nature. 

To avoid this requirement, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sometimes attempts to use law enforcement officers to testify to a substance’s illegal nature. 

Avoiding Penalties Associated with Drug Possession Charges

With drug offenses, a skilled defense attorney can often help a person resolve the matter in a way that avoid a criminal conviction. Some of the options that a person might have include the following:

  • CWOF. These involve an admission that a person committed a drug offense, but that the offense will not result in a criminal conviction or loss of a professional license. This is often not the most preferable way to resolve a case.

  • Guilty pleas with probation. If a person has a criminal record, this option can sometimes be the most attractive. 

  • Pretrial probation. In some situations involving drug offense, the district attorney might agree to dismiss a case provided that certain conditions are satisfied. Pretrial probation is advantageous because it does not involve any admission of criminal activity. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have questions or concerns about the best tactic to defend against a drug charge, one of the best steps that you can take is to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

 

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