August 2012 Archives

August 29, 2012

Massachusetts Court Reverses Murder Conviction for Lowell Man

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently reversed the conviction of William Santos, who in 2008 was convicted of the Murder of Luis Daniel Rodriguez during an alleged drug deal. Declaring that certain evidence was improperly admitted at his trial, the court has ordered a new trial.

Prior to his trial, Santos had argued that certain statements he allegedly made to police should have been excluded from trial because he had invoked his constitutional right to remain silent and asked to speak with an attorney. At the time, the judge in the case ruled that he wasn't in 'custody' and therefore, Miranda warnings are not required. The prosecution also pointed out that despite asking for an attorney, he continued to speak to police.

Miranda warning are technically only necessary when the person is subject to interrogation by law enforcement AND he is in custody or in a custodial setting.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court, however, overruled that decision, holding that once there was an unequivocal invocation of his right to speak with an attorney, the interview should have been terminated immediately and the police should not have allowed him to continue to speak.

In all my years in defending persons charged with any crime, I have yet to see a case where the defendant spoke to the police and it benefitted him. In the vase majority of cases where my clients have made statements, the clients then assert that their words were taken out of context, changed and have even denied making statements altogether.

There is a reason why there is a constitutional right to remain silent, for not other reason that whatever you say can and will be used against you in court. Chances are, if the police are questioning you and think you're a suspect, they're not asking questions to help you - they're asking questions to build a strong case and bury you when you get charged.

Unequivocally, the better and safest practice in ANY circumstances is to NOT answer any questions without first speaking to a lawyer.

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August 19, 2012

Former Boston Teacher Arrested for 4th Sex Offense

In a sting operating organized by the Boston Police Human Trafficking Division, a former Boston school teacher was arrested this past week on Massachusetts Sex Crimes Charges for allegedly attempting to solicit sex from what he thought was a teenager. He was charged with Enticing a Child Under Under 16 and Sexual Conduct for a Fee.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the man allegedly solicited sex from what he thought was a 19 year old female. On the other end of the computer, though, undercover police officers were posing as a 15 year old girl. The man was arrested when he arrived at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel to meet the purported teenager. This was reportedly his 4th arrest involving a sex crime.

The Massachusetts Sex Crime of Enticement of a Child Under 16 is punishable by up to 5 years in state prison or up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections. A conviction will also subject the offender to Sex Offender Registration.

In total, 5 persons were arrested last Thursday evening in connection with this sting operation by the Boston Police Department.

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August 3, 2012

Cape Cod, Massachusetts Sex Offender Charged with with Rape of a Child

A Cape Cod man has been charged with Massachusetts Sex Crimes for allegedly raping two children that were under the age of 16. He was arraigned in Barnstable District Court this week on charges including Rape of a Child with Force and Indecent Assault & Battery on a Child Under 14.

According to the District Attorney's Office, the man, who is reportedly a Level 2 Sex Offender, allegedly sexually assaulted the children over a period of time since this past June. The Yarmouth Police Department reportedly received the complaints of these allegations.

The Massachusetts Sex Crime of Rape of a Child Under 16 involves the sexual intercourse with a child under 16 by force against his/her will. The potential penalty for this sex crime in Massachusetts is imprisonment to state prison for any term of years up to life.

The Sex Crime of Indecent Assault & Battery on a Child Under 14 involves the unlawful 'indecent' touching against a child under 14. Massachusetts criminal law defines an 'indecent act' as one contrary to contemporary standards of decency, typically those acts involving the touching of another's 'private parts'.

A conviction for the crime of Indecent Assault & Battery on a Child Under 14 is punishable by imprisonment to the House of Correction for a term up to 2.5 years; or to state prison for up to 10 years.

A conviction for either Rape of a Child or Indecent Assault & Battery on a Child Under 14 would require that the defendant convicted of such crimes register with the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board; and submit his/her DNA to the state's database. A conviction for this and other sex crimes could also lead to other collateral consequences, including subjecting the defendant to a term of community parole supervision for life and/or civil commitment as a "sexually dangerous person."

Prosecutors obviously prosecute Massachusetts Sex Crimes very aggressively, and a defendant can expect that the prosecutors and police will seek to obtain any and all forensic evidence they can find. Forensic evidence that they would seek would not only include blood and DNA evidence, but they may also seek to seize and obtain computer and cell phone records.

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August 2, 2012

Two Men Arrested in Double Homicide and Home Invasion in Haverhill, Massachusetts

Three men have been arrested in connection with last week's Home Invasion in Haverhill. All three men have been charged with Massachusetts Murder Charges, as well as Home Invasion, and Gun Crimes Charges.

According to the Essex County District Attorney's Office, several men attempted to gain access to and rob an apartment on River Street in Haverhill. The attempted robbery went bad, and eventually led to two people being killed, and others seriously injured from gunshot wounds.

The violent crime of Home Invasion in Massachusetts is defined as the entering into the home of another while armed and where the use or threatened use of force is employed. Home Invasion carries a potential penalty of not less than 20 years and up to life in state prison.

With regard to sentencing on this case, the imposition of the 20 year minimum sentence is not mandatory, in the sense that the if someone is found guilty of this crime, a judge does have discretion to not sentence him/her to state prison, but to place the person on probation for some length of time. Only in circumstances where the sentencing judge imposes a sentence of commitment for the crime of Home Invasion, the minimum sentence that must be imposed is 20 years.

By contrast of course, the crime of 1st Degree Murder carries a mandatory life sentence to state prison without the possibility of parole.

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August 1, 2012

Norwood Police Arrest 3 on Massachusetts Drug Charges

cocaine.jpgThe Norwood Police Department last week arrested 3 men on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges who they claim to be key suppliers for drugs in the Town of Norwood.

The 3 men, one from Boston, Quincy and Fall River, were all arrested following a drug investigation with several 'controlled drug purchases' in Norwood that also led to a drug house in Randolph. All three men were charged with Drug Trafficking in Cocaine and Heroin and Conspiracy to Violate the Massachusetts Drug Laws.

Drug Trafficking in Massachusetts is defined as the knowing or intentional manufacture, distribution or possession with intent to distribute certain net weights of controlled substances. The penalties for a conviction for drug trafficking varies depending on the weight and the alleged substance.

For instance, a conviction for Trafficking in Cocaine of 14 to 28 grams carries a sentence of not less than 3 and up to 15 years in state prison; while Trafficking in Heroin of 14 to 28 grams carries a sentence of not less than 5 and up to 20 years in state prison.

There are many potential issues that must be explored and researched an a defense involving a drug crime. Some issues, such as a challenging the probable cause in the issuance of a search warrant or challenging an unlawful search and seizure could be dispositive in the defendants case by getting the drugs suppressed or thrown out. Other times, particularly where controlled buys were employed by the police and the identity of the alleged 'dealer' may be in question, the defense may turn on challenging the defendant's access to or possession of the drugs, even if he resided in the home and/or if the drugs were located in a common area.

On their face, many drug cases may appear to be total losers, with the defendant having no chance of beating the charges. A skillful attorney, with knowledge of the law and possible legal arguments, could often be the difference between a defendant serving 3-15 years and either getting his case dismissed or winning at trial.

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