Don’t consent to search of your car or person

Police need to have a good reason to search your car or your person.  If the police have a valid search warrant then they are allowed to search the areas that are specified in the warrant.  However, in most searches of cars and people, police don’t have a warrant because they don’t have time to get a warrant. 

If the police search a person or car without a warrant, they need a legally recognized reason to search.  If the police don’t have a legitimate reason to search, then the court may end up suppressing the evidence that was found. 

The most important thing that a suspected person can do is not to consent to any search.  A lot of people will consent to a search of their person or car because they believe they have no other choice.  What is even more astounding is that many people will consent to the search knowing that there are illegal materials in the car or on their person.

Once a person gives consent, it helps the police greatly.  When a person consents to being searched, the police no longer need a legitimate reason to search.  The police are allowed to search because the person has consented.   The police do not need to warn the suspect that he has the right to refuse to be searched.  The lesson is never consent to a search.  If the police find evidence so be it.  Don’t take away your own rights by consenting to the search and taking away your opportunity to force the police to justify their warrantless search. 

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DUI Lifetime look back rule

The penalties for DUI offenses have become more serious over the years.  Essentially, in order for the Commonwealth to figure out what number DUI offense a DUI offender should be charged with, the state “looks back” at the DUI offender’s record.  Since 2002, the DUI rules of “looking back” at a person’s DUI record have changed making the punishments for DUI more severe. 

 The DUI rules prior to 2002 would only look at the DUI offender’s to see if the DUI offender had any DUI’s for the last ten years.  Now for the purposes of counting DUI offenses, the DUI laws counts CWOFs and convictions the same way. (To learn more about CWOFS Under the DUI ten year look back rule, the state would look at the DUI offender’s record and only count DUI offenses that occurred in the last ten years.  So for example, under the old DUI rules, a 50 year old DUI offender has one DUI on his record when he was 25.  Under the old DUI rules, the DUI offender would be charged with a DUI first offense. 

After 2002, the DUI rules no longer just “look back” ten years in the DUI offender’s record.  Now, no matter how much time has lapsed, all the DUIs on a person’s record are counted.  So back to our example of the 50 year old DUI offender with one DUI on his record when he was 25. Under the new DUI rules, the DUI offender would be charged with a DUI second offense. 

This change in the DUI rules is very significant because the penalties for DUI become more severe depending on the number of the DUI offense.  To find out more information regarding the different DUI offenses, you can visit the DUI index.

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Tough not to get caught-crimes that weren’t so smart. Part II

Last week’s story was about a breaking and entering that wasn’t planned out very well to say the least.  It’s difficult to imagine that this week’s story could top last week’s.  Remember that the suspect from last week left fingerprints and blood at the scene and then tried to cash in numbered scratch tickets.  Before you rush to judgment, just wait to hear what this next person did. 

 Story number 2: Traffic anyone? 

A suspect decides to rob a bank downtown Boston late Friday afternoon.  He goes into the bank without a hat, sunglasses, or any type of disguise.  The bank has a main entrance and a side entrance.  The suspect has a getaway car and driver waiting at the side entrance.  As a result, the suspect wants to wait for the bank window that is closest to the side entrance.

 The problem starts with the fact that there aren’t too many people waiting in line.  There are several windows open and several bank tellers are asking the suspect if he needs help with anything.  The suspect is persistent in his desire to wait for that one bank teller closest to the side door.  The suspect ends up waiting for the bank teller closest to the side door for up to 10 minutes.  This gives the other bank workers ample opportunity to look at the suspect.  If that isn’t enough, the cameras are recording him this entire time. 

 Finally, the suspect goes up to his desired window and hands the bank teller a note demanding money.  The bank teller calmly hands over the money and the suspect flees out the side door.  With all the information the police probably would have caught the person sooner or later, but this is when the situation makes a turn for the worse. 

 Not really planning out his getaway route, the suspect takes 93 South for his escape.  Now anyone that works in Boston knows that 93 South on a late Friday afternoon is similar to a parking lot.  The police find out that the suspect fled onto 93 South, get onto 93 South, put on their lights and gently weave through traffic.  The suspect is found stuck in traffic not more than 3 exits away from downtown. 

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Tough not to get caught-crimes that weren’t so smart. Part I

During my travels you hear a lot of silly stories.  First, I didn’t represent any of these people.  Second, these stories are much better than my imagination can provide.  And finally, if you ever find yourself wanting to violate the law, please reconsider.  Over the next several weeks, I have four crime stories that will make you scratch your head.

Story number 1: Trying to hit the lottery

A suspect breaks the window of a liquor store.  The suspect probably didn’t think about the situation too clearly because blood is found on the window sill.  Either the person cut his or her hand on the window while breaking it, or the broken glass cut the suspect on the way in.  The suspect didn’t wear gloves leaving DNA and finger prints everywhere.

Once inside, the suspect looks for valuable items to take.  The suspect takes some alcohol and rummages through an empty cash register.  Finally, the suspect comes up with a great idea of taking scratch tickets and lottery tickets.  The problem is that the tickets are numbered and once they are cashed in, the police will know what store cashed the winning tickets.  Moreover, most convenience stores will have cameras.

When the person cashed the winning tickets the police had his face on tape.  In the end, the fingerprints were enough to track the person down, but the police were able to retrieve the tape from the store that cashed the scratch ticket.  The suspect gave the police plenty of evidence to find and to later prosecute him.  This definitely wasn’t one of the best thought out crimes.  If you think this story is silly, just wait as the stories get progressively worse.


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Tis the season to be road blocks

Summer is here and the weather is going to be great. The Fourth of July makes a wonderful long weekend for everyone. As you go to cookouts and barbecues this weekend, alcohol is a staple for celebration. Just keep in mind that police are out in full force and be prepared for road blocks.

When road blocks are set up, police usually come out in full force. You will usually see several police officers with their flashing cruisers at a road block. The officers at the start of the road block stop traffic and make sure cars are going into the road block in an orderly fashion. These officers also look out for any cars that are trying to turn around and escape detection. If these officers see anyone trying to run, they will usually call for an officer that is sitting in a cruiser to chase the fleeing vehicle.

Other officers stop cars at random, usually every 4th or 5th car and talk to the operator. If the officer stopping cars detect that the operator may be over the limit, the officer then waives the suspected driver to an area for further testing. Cars sent to further testing will find other officers that will ask the suspect several questions and perform field sobriety tests. Finally, there are usually many other police officers assisting in arresting people and securing the area.

If you do see a road block don’t run. By the time you see the road block, the officer in the front of the set up will have seen you. If you run, a cruiser would be sent to stop you. Also let’s face it, if you believe you are under the influence, running away will only make the situation more dangerous. So enjoy your Fourth, but be mindful of those road blocks. Just in case, you may want to put my number in your phone 508-808-8902.

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Holiday bad decision turns into domestic assault and battery charge

 Holidays are supposed to bring out the best in people, but unfortunately many times it brings out the worse.  It may be the tight quarters with family members that bring out the emotional exchanges, or simply the excess of alcohol.  Either way, don’t call the police unless it is necessary.

So I see this type of situation occur a good amount.  It happens quite often, but especially around the holidays people usually men are charged with assault and battery from a domestic incident.  The alleged victim in the case say that they didn’t want the defendant arrested and don’t want the person to go to jail.  The victim also states that the situation was exaggerated because the person wanted the police to take their side.

So here are a few things to consider before calling the police for no good reason.  Police tend to err on the side of caution in domestic situations.  Police can’t decipher an argument that is just a normal family argument that will boil over from one that may lead to some violent end.  As a result, police tend to make arrests to err on the side of caution.  That means if you tell the police that some physical contact has been made, the defendant will usually be arrested.

Too many people tend to call the police in attempt to get a person out of their house.  The likely end is that the police will get the person out of the house, but will also arrest and charge the person.  Also, the police arrest is not the end of the matter, but simply the beginning of a long legal process.  There is likely to be many court dates and people that you don’t want in your life.

Conversely, if you feel like you are in danger of your own safety then you shouldn’t hesitate in calling the police.  This post isn’t an attempt to convince people from calling the police for legitimate reasons, but to warn people from calling for frivolous ones. Holidays are supposed to be times of joy and celebration, but if you can’t get along perhaps you should avoid one another.  In the end, only call the police if you really need their help.

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For more information about domestic violence:

Massachusetts Law about Domestic Violence:

Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence:

Healing Abuse Working for Change:

Network for Women’s Lives:

Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project:

Casa Myrna Vazquez:

Jane Doe’s Inc.:

On the rise:

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Do you really know what a jury trial is about?

Unless you were chosen to serve as a juror, most people don’t know what jury trials are really about.  Sure, court room dramas are nice, but movies seldom explain the process.  Here are a few points about one of your most important consitutional rights. 

 The number of jurors: Depending on what court you are being tried, the number of jurors will vary.  The district court requires a unanimous decision by 6 jurors.  The superior court requires a unanimous decision by 12 jurors.  In short, the superior court requires twice as many jurors to return a verdict.  One reason for this difference is that the penalties are much more severe in superior court.  The stakes being higher, the amount of jurors are also higher. 

 Alternates: Most judges will sit more jurors than is required.  In both the district court and the superior court it is very common for the judge to impanel more jurors than required.  Judges will sit alternate jurors in case people have emergencies that arise.  If a judge empanels the minimum amount of jurors and a juror is unable to perform his or her duties, then the judge will most likley have to declare a mistrial.  To avoid this problem, judges will sit additional jurors. 

 Impaneling a jury:  The amount of time it takes to impanel a jury can very significantly.  Essentially, the court wants to impanel an impartial jury and for certain cases this can be difficult.  If you have jury duty, I am sure this isn’t something that you want to hear.  Cases that particularly take a long time to impanel a jury are cases involving sex offenses.  It can take days if not weeks to impanel a jury for a child molestation or rape case.  So if you are serving jury duty and find yourself as a potential jury in a sex offense case prepare for a long process. 

 Decision: As I have mentioned before, a jury decision in Massachusetts needs to be unanimous.  This means that the entire jury needs to agree with the decision of guilty or not guilty.  As you can imagine, this can make for long jury deliberations. 

 This post gives you a little background on jury trials.  Jury trials are complicated and it is never a good idea to represent yourself in a trial.  In the end, it is important to remember that it is not a perfect system.  However, it is bar far the best one ever created.

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 For more information:

 About the Massachusetts Jury System

 Preparing for a jury trial

Glossary of trial terms

Defense of Massachusetts Jury Service System

Anatomy of a jury trial

Vanishing Civil Jury Trials

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Global Positioning System (GPS) and the criminal justice system

Ten to fifteen years ago, GPS was pretty much an unknown to the public.  Now GPS technology is used in cars for directions, cell phones to find the closest café and in the criminal justice system. 

It is more common today to see GPS monitoring as part of a person’s criminal disposition.  Many times attorneys will use it as a last bargaining chip to keep their clients out of committed time.  This post is not to consider the pros and cons of the GPS monitoring, but to dissect what the GPS is really all about. 

If you are pleading out to a charge that requires you to be monitored by GPS what does that really mean?  Well first, the purpose of the GPS is to track and monitor the movements of the probationer.  The GPS itself operates on inclusion and exclusion zones. 

The person being monitored has to wear a transmitter that will allow the person to be seen wherever he or she goes.  The person who is wearing the transmitter must also carry a phone with them all the time.  If the person walks into or near an exclusionary zone, he or she will receive a phone call to leave right away.  If the person doesn’t leave after the phone call warning or doesn’t pick up the phone, the police will be called. 

The length of time that a person is to be monitored is to be decided by the judge.  The cost of this device is $9.45 a day or around $300 a month.  This fee can be waived by the judge.  The inclusion and exclusion zones are also usually decided by the judge.  For example, the usual exclusionary zones for sex offenders are playgrounds, schools and daycare centers.  The exclusionary zones can also be more tailored to the particular case, such as the victim’s home, work or school. 

Some things to keep in mind are that the GPS monitoring is mandatory for most sex offenses.  In order to get on a GPS there needs to be a unit available and a time to hook the person up.  The hook-ups are scheduled through the Commissioner of Probation (OCP).  If a person is custody and the judge won’t release them until they have a GPS, it may take a little while to find an available unit and to schedule a day for OCP to come hook up the unit. 

 GPS monitoring is becoming more common in Massachusetts and in different states.  The process that I have discussed in this post is not a universal procedure.  It is important for you to find out the protocol in the county that will be doing the monitoring. 

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For more information about GPS, visit:

More States Move to use GPS Tracking of Sex Offenders,2933,196455,00.html

 Attorney Dan Schumann’s blog about GPS

 William Saletan-Why GPS tracking is good news for inmates

Is GPS monitoring the better way?

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Bench warrants-Effects, removing one and taking care of it before you get arrested

 There are many reasons why you may have a bench warrant out for your arrest. The most common reason is that you failed to show up in court for a scheduled hearing. The court can also issue a warrant for other reasons, for example, failing to pay a court fine. If a bench warrant is issued, it poses several issues for you.

First, if you are ever stopped by police, you can be arrested. After you are arrested, you will usually be brought into court the next day. Unfortunately, if you are arrested on a Friday night, the earliest you will be brought into court is the following Monday.

There are also other potential issues about having a warrant on your record. The registry may suspend your license, or not allow you to renew your license until the warrant is cleared. The registry can do this right away or years later. Either way, the warrant is going to catch up sooner or later.

For the most part, in order to remove a warrant, you must show up to court. When you fail to appear in court, the court enters a default on the case and issues a warrant for your arrest. Essentially, the case needs to be taken out of default and then the judge needs to lift the warrant.

When removing a default the judge could detain you. One of the factors the judge considers is if you are a flight risk. Depending on what the excuse for failing to appear in court is, the court may decide to hold you in custody. Therefore, it is always smart to have an attorney with you when removing a warrant.

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For More information about this post, here are some interesting websites: Outstanding warrant?

Protect yourself against being jailed for traffic stop…

Attorney that removes warrants in Miami FL

How to get rid of bench warrant

CA attorneys that deal with warrants

San Diego and LA California warrant attorney

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How to deal with that horrible speeding ticket

Alright, everyone hates speeding tickets.  Not only do you have to deal with the large fine, your insurance gets increased for five years.  Worse, if you have three moving violations in a year, your license can be suspended.  So here are a few things to keep in mind for a speeding ticket. 

 Be polite.  When you get pulled over do not yell at the police officer.  You need to follow instructions and be polite.  This sounds simple enough, but a lot of people want to argue with the officer.  Arguing will get you no where.  It only gives the officer more incentive to write you the ticket, to show up in court and to say that you had a bad attitude while he is testifying.  So be polite, even though you are not happy about the situation. 

 Look at the ticket.  You need to examine the ticket itself carefully.  First, look at the time and date to see if they are accurate.  Next, look at the information about your car.  See if the officer wrote the right information down correctly.  Finally, look to see if the officer estimated your speed or used radar. 

 File the appeal.  It doesn’t hurt to try to appeal your ticket.  The first hearing will be in front of a clerk.  The clerk’s hearing will cost you $25.  If you lose at the clerk’s hearing you can then appeal the clerk’s ruling in front of a judge.  The officer that wrote you the ticket doesn’t need to show up at the clerk’s hearing, but needs to show up in front of the judge’s hearing. 

 Make a decision.  You need to make a decision and figure out how important winning the ticket is for you.  You may want to just pay the ticket and get it over with.  You may also want to fight the ticket to the end because you already have two moving violations in one year.  If you do want to fight the ticket and put forth your best case, you may want to consider hiring a defense attorney for help.

 Attorney Jessica Foley’s Blog on License issues

 Turnpike looking to increase revenue by issuing more tickets

 Police ordered to issue more speeding tickets

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