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Massachusetts Appeals Court Suppresses Evidence From Wrongful Arrest Based on Misinformation by Boston Police

The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently suppressed evidence in a case that was seized as a result from an arrest by Boston Police based on mistaken information.  In the case of Commonwealth v. Maingrette, the Appeals Court ruled that the arrest, based on a default warrant that was no longer active at the time of the defendant’s arrest, was unlawful and evidence seized as a result must be suppressed.

When “an arrest is wrongly made on the basis of mistaken information chargeable solely to the police, the burden is on the government to show that i twas not at fault in the circumstances” and that the mistake was reasonable.”

In this case, the Boston Police Youth Violence Strike Force obtained information that the defendant was involved in a domestic altercation the previous night, during which he brandished a gun.  A check of the warrant management system at 1:00 p.m. indicated that the defendant had failed to appear in court on another unrelated matter and, as a result, a default warrant for his arrest had been issued.  Later that day, at 5:00 p.m., the defendant was seen leaving his home and the officers placed him under arrest on the basis of the default warrant that had been issued earlier that date.

At the time of his arrest, the defendant was in the possession of a firearm and he was charged with carrying a loaded firearm without a license; unlawful possession of ammunition; and receiving stolen property.

After being taken to the police station, however, the officers located on his person a default removal from the court.  The default warrant that had initially been issue had been recalled at 3:00 p.m.  From 3:00 p.m. forward, then, the defendant was no longer in default status.

Boston Police Rules and Regulations, Special Order Number 95-31, states that “Immediately prior to arresting a person for an outstanding warrant, officers shall notify Operations so that the computerized Warrant Management Service can be checked to determine if the outstanding warrant is still active…”  The arresting officer never notified operations prior to the defendant’s arrest and consequently failed to determine, at the time of his arrest, if the default warrant was still active.

Because the Boston Police officers never checked the status of the default warrant at the time of the defendant’s arrest, pursuant to the Boston Police Department’s own policy, they failed to demonstrate that they were not at fault and that the mistake, the wrongful arrest, was reasonable.  As a result, the firearm and ammunition that was seized at the time of the ‘wrongful arrest’ was suppressed.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7 for consultation on all Gun Charges and Massachusetts Criminal Appeals.  Click here to schedule a Free Consultation or call 617-325-9500.