Two men were arrested last week in Brookline, Massachusetts, for allegedly Trespassing in a parking lot where recent car break-ins have been reported. Victor Edwardo Pena, of Jamaica Plain, and Nathan Ortega, of Dorchester, were both charged with Possession of Burglarious Tools, Receiving Stolen Property, and Trespassing.
The Brookline Police Officer who pulled the car over noticed a tool commonly used to break car windows, and also a flashlight under the Pena’s, the driver’s thigh. After ordering the men out of the car, the Brookline Officer also saw a screwdriver between the driver’s seat and door. Because the recent car break-ins were allegedly done using a flathead screwdriver, the officer then pat-frisked the occupants and searched their car, finding eight flathead screwdrivers, a black cap, two gloves, and a flashlight.
A subsequent inventory search of the car also revealed several GPS units, backpacks, keys, and personal effects bearing the names of other people. According to Brookline Police, these items were then traced to motor vehicle break-ins of at least 26 cars in Brookline, Boston, Cambridge and Norwood.
One of the major issues I see with this case is the Search & Seizure of the defendant’s vehicle. To that end, the million dollar question is whether the officer had lawfully stopped the defendant’s car as a result of the purported ‘no trespassing’ sign. In many cases involving motor vehicle stops, the overriding question is whether the actual stop of the defendant was lawful and based on either reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or probable cause to arrest.
Because police reports generally do not disclose every little bit of information relating to the alleged incident, I have found that contesting and challenging Searches & Seizures and requiring the prosecutor to prove the lawfulness of the officers’ actions, by requiring him to testify at an evidentiary hearing, often provides a great deal more information. Even though the information elicited at the hearing might not always be helpful to the motion itself, it sometimes provides the criminal defense attorney with issues to attack at trial; and almost always helps the attorney to prepare for the testimony at trial by hearing it ahead of time.
A successful challenge to the Search & Seizure in your case can be critical, is it could lead to the suppression or exclusion of key evidence in your case, without which the prosecutor might not be able to continue the prosecution against you. For this reason, you and your Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer should always evaluate the officer’s actions in stopping your car or your person, and evaluate any Search & Seizure challenges.
Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis has extensive experience in representing those accused with Possession of Burglarious Tools, Receiving Stolen Property, and other Theft Crimes. He has also successfully challenged cases of unlawful Searches & Seizures in Drug Crimes and Gun / Firearms Crimes, which have led to key evidence being excluded and charges being dismissed.
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