October 12, 2012

Lowell Man Held on Kidnapping and Armed Robbery Charges


A Lowell man was arraigned in Lowell District Court and charged with several Massachusetts Crimes of Violence charges in connection with an alleged kidnapping of two brothers and their friend in Chelmsford.

The defendant, Bounnee Lakongpheng of Lowell, was charged with Armed Robbery and Kidnapping.

According to the Essex County District Attorney's Office, Chelmsford police received a call from two people complaining that they had been held against their will at gunpoint in the basement of a Chelmsford home. The victim told police that he, a friend and his brother went to hang out in that basement when they were allegedly threatened by three men. The three man allegedly demanded to know where the money and drugs was or they would kill him.

The defendant was identified after police showed a photo array to the victim, but the other two suspects are still unknown at this time.

Kidnapping in Massachusetts is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years in state prison, but where it is alleged that the kidnapping was commitment while armed with the intent to extort money, the punishment is imprisonment for any terms of years up to life.

Kidnapping is defined as the unlawful and forcible confinement of another person against his or her will.

Armed Robbery is also punishable for any term of years up to life in state prison. Armed Robbery is committed when the person, armed with a dangerous weapon, applies force or violence to the victim and takes his property with the intent to steal it.

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October 10, 2012

Topsfield Fair Vendor Charged with Rape of Woman at Fair


A sausage vendor at the Topsfield Fair was arrested this past week and charged with Rape in connection with an alleged sexual assault that occurred this past Monday night.

The New Hampshire man, Paul R. Carson, was charged with one count of Rape.

According to police, the alleged sexual assault occurred on the Topsfield fairgrounds in an area not accessible to the public at around 10:30 p.m. The woman reportedly gave a description of her attacker and police arrested the defendant.

In many cases such as this, identification is a critical, and sometimes, only area of defense. In every criminal case, the government has the burden of proving that the defendant is the perpetrator of the alleged crime. If this cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the person should be acquitted.

What might be important in a case such as this for the defense is knowing how many people had access to that specific area; how specific, or vague, was the description that was given to the police; how much of an opportunity did the victim have to see her attacker; and how much can her identification of him be challenged.

Other issues involved in Rape cases include whether the victim was treated to a rape exam. If so, the medical examination may or may not reveal evidence of forced sexual intercourse, in which case there might also be a defense of consent.

Rape in Massachusetts is punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years for a first offense, and up to life for a subsequent offense.

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October 6, 2012

Mattapan Brothers Charged with Manslaughter in Boston Stabbing


Two brothers from Mattapan were charged with Massachusetts Murder Crimes Charges last week in connection with the stabbing of 15 year old Lance Hartgrove in Roxbury on July 10, 2012.

The two brothers were arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court and each are charged with Manslaughter and Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, a fight broke out outside the Social Security Administration building in Roxbury. The victim, Lance Hartgrove, armed with a kitchen knife, reportedly went to the building after being called there by a friend. After throwing a glass bottle at a window, Hartgrove went into the building with two others and began fighting with one of the defendants, which eventually spilled outside.

Prosecutors reported that one of the defendants was at the social security office with his mother, and when the fight broke out, the mother called her other son to assist. Ultimately, the victim was stabbed in the chest, and a friend of his was stabbed in the back.

Following their arraignment in Suffolk Superior Court, both defendant brothers were each held on $500,000 bail.

In Massachusetts, Manslaughter is defined as an intentional unlawful killing that occurred with mitigating circumstances. Mitigating circumstances lessen a defendant's culpability for the act, and some examples of mitigating circumstances are excessive force in self-defense; heat of passion upon reasonable provocation; or heat of passion by sudden combat.

The crime of Manslaughter in Massachusetts is punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years.

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September 28, 2012

Massachusetts Drug Lab Scandal: How Defendants Were Affected and What Can Be Done


The Massachusetts Department of Health Lab in Jamaica Plain (William A. Hinton Drug Laboratory) was ordered shut down by the governor a few weeks ago when it was discovered that at least one of the chemists at the lab allegedly engaged in malfeasance and violation of protocol with drug samples in criminal cases. The drug lab handled several thousand drug samples seized from criminal drug arrests in multiple counties, including Suffolk County, Middlesex County (until 2009), Bristol County, Worcester County and Norfolk County.

By way of background, when the police seized drugs in criminal cases, the drugs were ultimately sent to the DPH drug lab for testing and confirmation that the substance was, in fact, the certain controlled substance it was thought to be. At the lab, each drug sample was analyzed by one chemist, whose results were then checked by another chemist.

As it turns out, one of the supervising chemists is alleged to have engaged in intentional violation of protocol by tampering with evidence bags; altering the weight of drugs; not calibrating the drug testing machines properly; and even altering drug samples so that they would test as drugs when they were not! This particular chemist, who was employed by the DPH drug lab in Jamaica Plain from 2003 to 2012, is believed to have been involved with as many as 60,000 samples and 182,000 criminal drug cases.

Even more disturbing, the analyst under investigation, considered a 'supervisor', had unsupervised access to the drug safe and evidence room, theoretically calling into questioned every single drug case that passed through the Jamaica Plain drug lab, even where she was not directly responsible for the testing of those samples.

Obviously, this discovery creates a very serious problem as defendants who were charge with a Massachusetts Drug Crime were potentially prosecuted with tainted and/or fabricated drug evidence and leading to erroneous convictions and in some cases, deportation from the United States.

Since the governor ordered the lab closed and the matter referred for investigation, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys are scrambing to determine which cases were affected. Many defense attorneys like myself, have been pulling old files out of storage in an effort to identify all defendants whose cases might have been affected in any way.

So who is affected and what should they do?

Any person who was charged with a Massachusetts Drug Crime whose case resulted in a conviction or plea is potentially affected and they should contact an attorney, particularly any individual who was recently convicted and is currently serving a prison/jail sentence as a result of that drug conviction.

Depending on each defendant's individual circumstances, there are various options that should be considered:

  • Defendants convicted of a drug crime should consider a Motion for New Trial, which would essentially vacate the conviction. Where the defendant is currently serving a sentence as a result of a potentially tainted drug conviction, there could also be the possibility that the person is released from custody and otherwise file a Motion to Stay their sentence.
  • Defendants who pled guilty to a Massachusetts drug crime should consider a Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea.
  • Defendants who have received any disposition short of a dismissal or acquittal, for instance, persons who admitted sufficient facts and their case was Continued Without a Finding ("CWOF") and placed on probation, should also consider a Motion to Withdraw their plea.
Though attorneys on all sides of the issues are working to identity whose cases may have been affected, the list is long and time consuming. For this reason, if you believe your Massachusetts drug case may have been impacted by this you should contact an attorney for assistance.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis has extensive experience in defendant Massachusetts Drug Crimes and is available 24/7 for a free consultation if you were affected by the DPH Drug Lab Scandal.

Click Here to contact a Massachusetts Drug Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.

September 17, 2012

Massachusetts State Trooper Charged with Sexual Assault


A Massachusetts State Trooper was recently indicted by the Worcester County District Attorney's Office on Massachusetts Sex Crimes Charges.

The state trooper, who was most recently assigned to the Sturbridge barracks, allegedly assaulted an 18 year old girl four years ago. The Worcester grand jury indicted the Massachusetts trooper with three charges of Indecent Assault and Battery and two counts of Open and Gross Lewdness.

The Massachusetts Sex Crime of Indecent Assault & Battery involves an 'indecent act'. Massachusetts criminal law defines an indecent act as one that is fundamentally offense to contemporary standards of decency. Typical and most common forms of indecent assault and battery are the inappropriate touching of the private portions of ones anatomy.

The crime of Indecent Assault & Battery is punishable by imprisonment for up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections or up to 5 years in state prison.

The sex crime of Open and Gross Lewdness and Lascivious Behavior is the intentional, indecent and offensive exposure of one's genitals to another person; and is punishable with imprisonment in the House of Corrections for up to 2 years or up to 3 years in state prison.

Although a 'sex offense', a conviction for a first offender for Open and Gross Lewdness will not trigger Sex Offender Registration. However, if a person is convicted for a second time for Open & Gross Lewdness, he/she will be subject to registration as a sex offender.

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September 16, 2012

Former Somerville Priest Charged with Sexual Abuse of a Child


A former priest of an Episcopal church in Somerville was arrested earlier this month on Massachusetts Sex Crimes Charges for allegedly sexually abusing a child over a period of 10 years.

The priest was charged with Assault with Intent to Rape and three counts of Indecent Assault and Battery on a Child.

According to the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office, the priest allegedly committed the sexual abuse over a 10 year period and reportedly only ceased when he left the church. The alleged sexual abuse began in the 1990's when the child was in elementary school. The victim recently came forward to the police, which then prompted these charges being filed.

The Massachusetts Sex Crime of Assault with Intent to Commit Rape is punishable with imprisonment of up to life imprisonment. As with many sex crimes charges, a conviction for this offense would subject the offender to Sex Offender Registration and the person must submit his/her DNA to the state's DNA database.

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September 13, 2012

Cambridge Woman Arrested for Assault Brookline Police Officer


A Cambridge woman was arrested this week on Massachusetts Crimes of Violence Charges for allegedly assaulting a Brookline Police Officer. She was charged with Assault & Battery on a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest and Disorderly Conduct.

According to the Brookline Police Department, the officer came across the woman on Harvard Street in Brookline and she appeared to be unsteady on her feet. She and a male companion were apparently trying to locate a taxi. 15 minutes later, the Brookline Police came across the Cambridge woman again, this time in the company of two other men. Upon speaking with her, she then allegedly began yelling at other men passing by to take her home.

When police asked her to sit down, she allegedly became irate and attempted to hit the police officers, spit on them and kicked one in the groin.

The crime of Assault and Battery on a Police Officer is defined as the intentional harmful or offensive touching (however slight) upon a police officer without justification. A conviction for this crime carries a sentence of not less than 90 days and up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections.

Resisting Arrest is the act of knowingly preventing or attempting to prevent a police officer from effecting an arrest of a person by the use of threats or physical force or violence. The crime of Resisting Arrest is punishable by imprisonment in the House of Corrections for up to 2.5 years.

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September 4, 2012

Brockton Man Charged with Attempted Murder for Shooting in Boston


A Brockton man was arraigned last week on several Massachusetts Crimes of Violence Charges for allegedly shooting at a crowd of people in Boston.

The man was formally arraigned in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court with Armed Assault to Murder, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Possession of Ammunition and Carrying a Loaded Firearm.

According to the Boston Police, the Brockton man exited his vehicle last Tuesday evening and started shooting at a group of people that were in front of a liquor store in the area of 620 Shawmut Avenue in Boston's South End.

Boston Police Officers allegedly witnesses the shooting and began chasing the man, who reportedly discarded the firearm. He was arrested further down on Washington Street.

Another man, from Boston, then allegedly grabbed the discarded gun and attempted to hide it in a plastic bag under some bushes. That man was also arrested and charged with Massachusetts Gun Crimes Charges. At his arraignment, Suffolk County prosecutors also charged him with being a Level III Armed Career Criminal. His bail was set at $15,000 after his arraignment in Dorchester Court.

As for the Brockton man, he was held on $100,000 cash bail with conditions, including GPS monitoring.

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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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June 24, 2012

Massachusetts Court Reverses Woman's Murder Conviction in Death of Baby During Labor


The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently considered a case where a Milford woman was charged with Murder when she gave birth without medical assistance that resulted in the death of the baby (the baby was later found in the trash).

In its decision, the Court refused to impose a duty upon women that they must seek medical intervention when undergoing unassisted childbirth. The court thereby affirms a person's protected liberty interest in refusing unwanted medical treatment.

In this case, the Massachusetts woman realized she was pregnant after missing her period and then taking a home pregnancy test. She didn't tell anyone about the pregnancy and chose not to see a doctor. Approximately 6 months later, the woman believed she was experiencing a miscarriage and her water broke. After 5 minutes, the baby emerged from her body but was blue.

The woman told police she made repeated attempts to scoop out the baby's mouth and made rescue breaths, but the baby's color never changed and she did not notice the baby cry or move. After not being able to resuscitate the baby, she disposed of the baby in the trash. The police discovered the baby's body a few days later.

The Worcester District Attorney's Office ultimately charged the woman with Murder and, after trial, a jury convicted her. The Supreme Judicial Court however, reversed the conviction and ruled that prosecutor's failed to prove that the woman's decision not to seek medical help was the cause of the child's death. The Court distinguished this case from one where a woman intentionally foregoes medical assistance with the intent to kill her fetus; or where a woman undergoes unassisted childbirth after she was told doing so could jeopardize the baby's life.

Essentially, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that someone can be subject to criminal liability if a viable fetus is intentionally killed, but this was not the case. In this case, the Court ruled that there was no evidence that the woman had any intention of killing her own fetus simply because she elected to not have medical treatment.

See court's full opinion at Commonwealth v. Allissa Pugh.

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June 21, 2012

Man's DNA Leads to Massachusetts Sex Crimes Charges After 8 Years


The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office recently indicted a man on Massachusetts Sex Crimes Charges for an alleged sexual assault that occurred on the MBTA's Green Line in 2004.

According to prosecutors, the man was riding on the MBTA's B Line and allegedly positioned himself behind a female rider and began to inappropriately touch himself. When the woman left the train, she noticed 'stains' on her purse and pants. MBTA Police seized the purse at the time and, working with the Boston Police Department, were allegedly able to extract DNA from the purse and create a genetic profile. That genetic profile was entered into the CODIS database that triggered a purported match of this defendant in 2011.

The man was charged with the Massachusetts Sex Crime of Indecent Assault & Battery on a Person Over 14, which carries a potential penalty of 2.5 years in the House of Corrections; or a state prison sentence of no more than 5 years.

Like many sex crimes, a conviction for this offense would render the person subject to Massachusetts Sex Offender Registration; will require him to submit a DNA sample to the state's DNA database. Additionally, depending on the persons criminal history, he may also be subject to a term of community parole supervision for life.

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