We are open during COVID-19 and available to speak about your case by video conference, over the phone or in person.

As a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer, I have spoke to and helped countless people facing a criminal charge.  One of the more difficult things to deal with is the stress and anxiety during the case.  Criminal cases take time so it is important to be in a good mental framework, to move forward with your life, family and career even while the charge is working its way through the Court Process.

For years, we have sent clients the book called the Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. This is a great book and worth reading as well.  Recently, I have started sending a different book.  Change your Thinking Change your Life by Brian Tracy.  This book is incredible and has a very positive message.

Your thoughts Control your realty

Civil Rights Violation Case Examined by Massachusetts District Court

Americans value their privacy, and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees Americans that they have a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to their property and homes.  But what happens when this right is violated?  In Johnson v. City of Worcester, Carl Johnson had his privacy violated and sued the police officers responsible.

What happened in Johnson?

One of the primary concerns of the Founders was to protect the home from unreasonable government intrusion.  A case pending before the United States Supreme Court, Caniglia v. Strom, asks the question of whether the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement extends to the home.

What is “community caretaking?”

To understand the issues in Canigila, we must look back at previous cases decided by the Supreme Court.  In Cady v. Dombrowski, the Court held that police officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they searched the trunk of a car that had been towed after an accident.  The Court acknowledged that, “except in certain carefully defined classes of cases,” police cannot search private property without consent or a warrant.  It emphasized, however, that “there is a constitutional difference between houses and cars.”  Since Cady, there has been a whole host of cases that took this holding and created the doctrine of “community caretaking.”  Cady defined community caretaking activities as those “totally divorced from the detection, investigation, or acquisition of evidence relating to the violation of a criminal statute.”  In Cady, the Court found that searches conducted in the performance of community caretaking activities do not require warrants and should be subjected to “the general standard of ‘unreasonableness’ as a guide in determining” their constitutionality.”  Cady’s holding began as a rule authorizing a routine, warrantless inventory search of an automobile lawfully impounded by the police.  Courts have come to view these police functions as a doctrine, In such cases, law enforcement officers perform dual community caretaking functions of aiding persons in need of assistance and protecting property.

Most people know about the “right to remain silent.”  This phrase is used in countless television shows and movies, so many Americans assume that these rights trigger as soon as they are in custody.  But in reality, it is much more confusing.  The Miranda decision itself is unclear as to when exactly Miranda rights begin.  Michigan v. Mathews is a case that is currently pending before the United States Supreme Court and asks the Court to clarify whether Miranda is satisfied when a suspect in custody is advised at the beginning of an interrogation that they have the right to an attorney, but is not explicitly advised that they are entitled to the attorney’s presence before and during interrogation.

The Michigan Court of Appeals held that a general “right to counsel” warning is insufficient, and that Miranda requires language expressly warning the suspect of the right to the presence of counsel before and during interrogation.  This decision conflicts with the Sixth Circuit, so there are different standards for Miranda warnings depending on whether the case goes to state or federal court.

This can be dangerous, because defendants might assume that a warning to a “right to attorney,” may trigger their Miranda rights when in fact they are still unprotected.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided the case of Commonwealth v. Charles Bohigian today holding that a blood draw without the consent of the defendant is inadmissible into evidence.  This case arose out of the Westborough District Court and was transferred to Worcester District Court for trial.

The defendant was charged with OUI causing Serious Bodily Injury.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court stated that it is Constitutional to draw blood without consent as long as an officer has a warrant or exigency circumstances make getting a warrant impractical.  However, the legislature created a statutory framework for getting Blood in the context of an OUI.

Massachusetts statute allows for a person to be involuntarily hospitalized for an extended period of time if a physician or police officer believes that the person is a danger to themselves or others as a result of their mental illness.  In the Matter of J.P., J.P. a mentally ill man appealed his involuntary commitment to a mental hospital, arguing that the lower court impermissibly relied on hearsay evidence in making the order.

What happened in the J.P. case?

J.P. was at the emergency room in a hospital when he was presenting signs of serious mental illness.  He was brought to the hospital after threatening his mother and exhibiting paranoid behavior.  He was then involuntarily committed to Suncoast Behavioral Health.  The attending physician, Dr. Lee said that J.P. was a harm to himself and others as a result of his illness.  Dr. Lee diagnosed J.P. with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type.

The United States Supreme Court in favor of an inmate in Taylor v. Riojas, a decision that was issued yesterday.

What happened in Taylor?

Texas inmate Trent Taylor was subjected to inhumane conditions in his Texas jail cell, after being committed to the unit following a suicide attempt.  The conditions described were horrifying.  Taylor was stripped naked and placed in a cell covered in feces from previous residents.  The feces contaminated his water supply, leading Taylor to not eat or drink for four days out of fear of becoming ill.   Correctional officers then moved Taylor to another cell, which was equally horrific.  The second cell was a “seclusion cell” with no bed or other furniture,  and no toilet to use, just a drain for bodily fluids.  As if the conditions would not get worse, the cell was frigidly cold, and Taylor had nothing but a suicide blanket for warmth.  He was forced to sleep on the urine-soaked floor.  As a result of these conditions, he could not use the bathroom for over 24 hours, and as a result, Taylor suffered a distended bladder requiring catheterization.

Does a Defendant Have Standing to Challenge a Warrantless Search of a Co-Defendant’s Cellphone?

   The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will hear oral arguments in a case on November 2nd addressing who has standing to challenge the illegal search of a phone.  Does a person sending a text message have standing to challenge the illegal search of a phone.

This issue came up in the case of Commonwealth v. Delgado-Rivera.  This case is on appeal from Superior Court allowing a Motion to Suppress on behalf of Mr. Jorge Delgado-Rivera. The issue in this case is whether the trial court erred in ruling that Mr. Delgado-Rivera has standing to challenge a warrantless search of a Co-Defendant’s cellphone on the grounds that Mr. Delgado-Rivera had sent the Co-Defendant text messages.  Standing means does a person have a right to have the court hear their claim that their 4th Amendment rights were violated.  Simply put, this means did the person have a expectation of privacy that society deems reasonable.  This case is very important as more and more information is shared over technology.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is expected to hear Massachusettts Coalition for the Homeless v. City of Fall River, this Monday, November 2nd regarding the controversial Massachusetts statute “17A.” This statute basically forbids soliciting from vehicles on public ways.  Although panhandling is not explicitly mentioned in the statute, in March of 2019, the Fall River Police Department filed over 150 criminal complaints under the statute, most of which targeted the homeless.

This case is being brought by members of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. The named plaintiffs in this case, John Correira and Joseph Treeful are both members of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. Correira and Treeful are both low-income residents of Fall River.  Both have experienced homeless and both rely on panhandling as a source of income. Because of this, they have been subject to combined forty-three criminal complaints, and both have been incarcerated in connection with the complaints.

Panhandling is a prevalent issue that has been around since Colonial times. In light of stagnant wages, high rent, the opioid crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic, panhandling is not going to disappear anytime soon. With the current state of tragedy the world is in, many individuals are going to find themselves at rock bottom, without a steady income to fall back on.

Domestic Assault and Battery case in Massachusetts can be proven even if the victim does not wish to testify.  As a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer, these cases involve important questions of Constitutional law and the right of confrontation.  The right to confront an accuser in court is one of the most important right to ensure a fair trial and justice in court.  The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently decided a case addressing the 6th Amendment right of confrontation in a domestic assault  and battery case.  The Appeals Court addressed this issue in Commonwealth v. Roy Rand decided in June of 2020.

What guidance did the Appeals Court provide as to when a 911 call is admissible in evidence at trial?  

The Appeals Court stated that the Court engages in a two step inquiry to determine when an out of court statement can be admitted:  

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