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Articles Posted in sex crimes

In a Massachusetts sexual assault trial, the evidence can be fairly contested the job of the jury can be very difficult, given the emotions of these charges.  Improper arguments by prosecutors can result in a defendant not receiving a fair trial.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best . . . They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” This harmful rhetoric espoused by former President Donald Trump may shock the senses for some, but, at its core, his words brought to light just how widespread prejudice against undocumented immigrants was. Knowing this, the injustice is almost palpable when you consider the prosecutorial missteps in the trial of undocumented immigrant, Claudiano Santana.

In Commonwealth v. Santana, released last month, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled against appellant Claudiano Santana, upholding his convictions of three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of fourteen. The focus of the appeal? Prosecutorial remarks and questions about Santana’s immigration status and ability to speak English.

Massachusetts Appellate Court Denies Man New Rape Trial 

Many rapes happen while the victim is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two. Victims are often tested for the presence of drugs at a hospital following their assault. However, may a court allow an expert testimony regarding GHB, known as a “date rape drug,” even when the victim tested negative for the drug? The Massachusetts Appellate Court recently decided this question in Commonwealth v. Hoime.  

What happened in the Hoime case? 

A sex abuse and Fourth Amendment case is currently pending before the United States Supreme Court. In the case of Ohio v. Deuble, undercover officers viewed a defendant texting on his phone and observed the notifications on the phone to use as cause to arrest the defendant.

This case asks two questions; the first question being whether probable cause existed under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to detain a person suspected of soliciting sexual activity from an undercover officer posing as a minor through social medial where the person’s identity is corroborated through the person’s actions.

In this case, the Respondent never actually “met” the “teenage girl” he was sexting with online. But, the Respondent agreed to meet the law enforcement officer posing as a minor for sexual activity and was the only person observed at the agreed meeting location using his cell phone as the law enforcement officer posing as the minor sent communications to the suspect through a social media application.

Massachusetts Appellate Court Decides Sex-Crimes Case With No Sexual Offense

Is it possible to be labeled as a sex offender when no sexual assault ever occurred? The Massachusetts Court of Appeals decided this question in the case of John Doe v. Sex Offender Registry Board.

What happened in the Doe case?

Supreme Court has its eye on mental health record privilege

 A Colorado case involving a dispute over murder versus suicide begs the question: are mental health records absolutely subject to psychologist-patient privilege, or is there a set of circumstances where they can be revealed to the accused to aid in defense? The Supreme Court is awaiting briefing in Perez v. Colorado, 19-1357.

What is psychologist-patient privilege?

R. Kelly faces numerous counts of aggravated sexual abuse; it is alleged that the girls were underage at the time of the incident.  In Massachusetts, when someone has sex with an underage person, the crime is referred to as statutory rape.  With a crime like statutory rape, consent is not a defense to the crime.  The only potential defense is to deny that any sexual contact ever occurred.  In Massachusetts, the age for consent is 16 years old.

As matters stand now, R. Kelly made his first court appearance on Saturday, February 23, 2019, and a judge set his bond at $1 million dollars.  He was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and turned himself in to police the Friday prior to his bond hearing.  The charges were based on a grand jury indictment that listed four victims.  Three of the victims were younger than 17 at the time of the alleged abuse, which occurred between May 1998 and January 2010. These charges come amidst a Lifetime documentary which detailed numerous Tsurvivors account of the alleged sexual abuse at the hands of R. Kelly.

Kelly’s conditions of release were similar to what a defendant charged with a similar crime would face in Massachusetts.  He was ordered to have no-contact provision with witnesses, alleged victims, or anyone age 18 or younger.  He also had to turn in his passport.

The right of confrontation is the most important and cherished right for protecting an accused‘ a right to a fair trial in the United States.  It is preserved by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Judges have spoken of the right of confrontation in the following terms:

With sexual assault cases, the Court has diminished the right of confrontation in an effort to protecting statutory privileges against the disclosure of records regarding psychiatric treatment, educational records and other type of records.

In the case of Commonwealth v. Richard Jones, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court imposed an extremely high bar on defense lawyers seeking access to records to impeach the complaining witness.

Celebrity rap-superstar Nelly is fighting back after allegedly sexually assaulting a Seattle woman on his tour bus back in October of 2017 and sexually assaulting two women in England, beginning in 2016. Nelly recently filed a countersuit, denying all allegations of sexual assault and rape, and requested that the amended complaint filed against him be dismissed by the judge.

According to the filed complaint, the woman, in this case, is alleging that Nelly raped her on his tour bus in Seattle outside of a Walmart, where he was stopped last year amid his world tour. The amended complaint also includes claims from two other women, that Nelly sexually assaulted them after performances in England in June of 2016 and in December of 2017.

In Seattle, the women allegedly called 911 in the parking lot of the Walmart following the assault; she told police that she went to Nelly’s bedroom with him on the tour bus, where he masturbated in front of her and forced himself on her while she was under the influence of alcohol.

The path has been cleared by the Massachusetts Supreme Court for a dangerousness hearing in the case of a teacher accused of sex with three, 14-year-old female students.

Massachusetts criminal defense lawyers understand that the issue in this case was the question of whether lack of evidence regarding the presence of physical force – or threat of physical force – precluded the necessity of a dangerousness hearing.

Ultimately, Massachusetts Supreme Court justices ruled that the crimes of which the teacher is accused inherently would have required at least some level of physical force on the defendant’s part in order to be carried out – i.e., penetration. This was regardless of the fact that there does not appear to be evidence of any other physical force in connection with the alleged crimes.

To help you better understand, we need to first explore what a dangerousness hearing is and why they are requested. Dangerousness hearings, as spelled out in M.G.L. Chapter 276 Section 58A, are court hearings held after arrest but prior to trial for a person accused of certain felony crimes involving force or threat of force.

The idea is to determine whether the state should hold you – for a period of up to 90 days – based on the belief that you may be a threat to society. It’s separate from a bond hearing.

For example, in this case, the 33-year-old defendant had been released on bond, following his arrest on five counts of enticing a child under the age of 16, two counts of disseminating obscene matter to a minor, four counts of aggravated statutory rape and one count of reckless child endangerment. Upon his release, he was fitted with a monitoring device, and he continues to await trial.

However, the prosecutor had sought a dangerousness hearing in an effort to get him back into law enforcement custody for at least three months.

In many cases, a client is not released before such a hearing is requested — but instead remains behind bars without bail. It’s important to note that a defendant can – and in most cases should – petition the court as to the necessity of a dangerousness hearing in the first place.

And that’s what happened here.

When prosecutors first requested the hearing, the lower judge ruled that the aggravated statutory rape charge didn’t meet the terms as spelled out in M.G.L. Chapter 276 Section 58A because there was no use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force.

However, prosecutors appealed that decision to the Massachusetts Supreme Court. The Commonwealth’s high court reversed the lower court’s ruling, stating that some force would have been necessary to consummate the crime.

What that means is that the dangerousness hearing can move forward.

What’s likely to happen? While it’s difficult to predict the outcome in any case, some of the factors that will be considered, as in any dangerousness hearing, are:

  • The nature and the circumstances of the alleged crime;
  • Whether the individual would pose a great risk to the community if released;
  • Whether the individual has a history of mental illness;
  • What type of employment record the person has;
  • What family ties the accused has in the community;
  • What sort of risk exists that the individual may threaten witnesses or otherwise interfere with the investigation if released;
  • Whether the accused has a history of alcohol or drug dependency;
  • What is the reputation of the defendant;
  • What is the criminal history and prior bail violations of the defendant.

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New Bedford sex crimes defense attorneys know that an allegation of such an offense can have major implications for the accused.

This is especially true for college students charged with a New Bedford sex crime. With an entire future ahead of him, college students must find an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney, whether the charge is date rape, statutory rape, sexual battery or other sex offense.

In a lot of Massachusetts sex crimes that allegedly occur on campus, victims will report those allegations to university police. There is supposed to be specific protocol in place for how such cases should be handled, although there have been some high-profile instances in recent years in which top university brass have come under fire for attempting to sweep such situations under the rug. These institutions don’t want to gain a reputation as being unsafe for students.

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