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. 

For More Information Please visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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This is no CSI


Crime scene investigation has gained incredible popularity in the hearts of people.  It is difficult to turn on the television without seeing at least one show that involves crime scene investigations.  Unfortunately, life hasn’t exactly caught up to the shows just yet. 

 Crime scene shows are very popular because they are very entertaining.  However, the shows are very different than real life practice.  On the show, the crime scene personnel can solve a crime in 60 minutes with the inclusion of commercials.  Finger prints, DNA tests, and other forensic analysis takes seconds to do.  An entire team of people juggle friendship, relationships and work and still find a way to catch the criminal.  The facilities and equipment are top of the line and look like they have never been used before. 

 The shows are entertaining, but are far from how most crime labs operate.  There are certain crime labs that have great equipment and very new facilities, but not all crime labs are in such great shape.  It all starts with the funding.  The crime labs usually aren’t that new.  The crime scene investigators aren’t that well paid and are often overworked.  Because of the amount of cases that need scientific analysis, this usually leads to significant delay in getting results back.  Drug certifications, ballistic reports, finger print and DNA analysis can take several months before the reports are done. 

The lack of funding and amount of work that needs to be done often leads to mistakes. Unlike the shows, real world investigators have to juggle many tasks at one time.  Therefore, the next time you watch a crime scene show, enjoy yourself, but please be mindful that it is just television. 

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For More information:

MA Crime labs

http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eopsterminal&L=3&L0=Home&L1=Public+Safety+Agencies&L2=Massachusetts+State+Police&sid=Eeops&b=terminalcontent&f=msp_feature_2009_msp_feature_entire_state_forensic_lab_system_receives_accreditation&csid=Eeops

 DNA resources in United States

http://www.dna.gov/dna_resources/state_labs

 Former Crime Lab Administrator with Troubling Story http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/13630969/detail.html

 Boston Globe Story about DNA crime lab still behind in testing

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/11/27/demand_for_dna_testing_outstrips_crime_lab_capacity/

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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Facing criminal charges, court is tomorrow, what to do


The court process is a long and stressful process for most.  Some of the reasons why the process is difficult are that the system is slow, there are few explanations and the rules and procedures are cumbersome and confusing.  So here are a few tips to keep in mind to make the criminal justice system a little more bearable. 

  1. Keep all your paperwork.  Don’t throw anything out or be careless with any documents that are given to you.  The court and district attorney will usually give you information that is important for your case.  So make sure you keep all the documents that you are given and bring them to your attorney. 
  2. Dress to impress.  This one sounds silly I know, but there are so many people that go to court in sweatshirts, baggy clothes, revealing shirts and other horrific attire that this is worth mentioning.  First impressions are important and the first thing that a judge or DA will notice is your clothing.  Dress like you would if you were going to a very important interview. One judge I know won’t call your case until your shirt is tucked in.  So be smart, dress well and it will win you points. 
  3. Be on time.  This one sounds simple, but if you don’t get to court when your case is called you can be defaulted.  If a default enters it usually comes with a warrant out for your arrest.  People who show up late usually can get the default removed, but also will have to wait until all the other cases are called.  Depending on the court you should be prepared to wait a long time.  Don’t bother with the excuse of bad weather, problems in getting a ride or anything else.  If the judge is there, he expects you to be there. 
  4. No cell phones or talking.  Most courts won’t allow cell phones anymore, so leave them in your car or at home.  Many courts don’t even have a place to keep your stuff while you are at the court, so just don’t bring your phone.  Also be quiet in the court room.  I know you may be pretty bored waiting for your case to be called, but an annoyed or angry judge is bad news. 
  5. Be respectful.  Look, I know you don’t want to be in court, who does?  However, you need to keep your cool and keep your head on straight.  Don’t argue with the DA or judge, don’t swear and don’t make faces.  The last thing you want to happen is for the judge to hold you for contempt. 
  6. Hire an attorney.  The process is stressful and there are many pitfalls.  The stakes are high, the penalties are serious and the case may affect the rest of your life.  Be smart hire a professional and remember these tips. 
  7. Finally, this shouldn’t even be a tip, but I have seen this happen so I will cover this point.  DON’T BRING WEAPONS AND DRUGS TO COURT WITH YOU!  Yes I have seen cases in which people are charged for bringing weapons and drugs to court.  They were searched after the metal detector was set off and then weapons and drugs were found on the person.  You would think it would be common sense, but I have seen it happen.  So my last tips is  don’t carry contraband with you to court. 

 Massachusetts Probate and Family Court tips

http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/probateandfamilycourt/beforegoing.html

 Minnesota State Court tips

http://www.mncourts.gov/selfhelp/?page=1616

 Traffic Court tips

http://www.trafficticketsecrets.com/traffic-court-tips.html

 Delaware State Court tips

http://courts.delaware.gov/How%20To/Court%20proceedings/?ccp_goingtocourt.htm

 Illinois Legal Aid Video

http://www.illinoislegalaid.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.dsp_content&contentID=2151

 Hawaii State Court tips

http://www.courts.state.hi.us/page_server/SelfHelp/TipsOnGoingToCourt/5C475B8C1A32638F15195D2D7.html

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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SJC shot down Sutter’s gun policy


Lately there has been a lot of talk about the Bristol District Attorney Samuel Sutter requesting so called dangerousness hearings on every gun felony case. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-1 to strike down the Bristol District Attorney’s policy. (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090504/NEWS/90504003)

Well what is a dangerousness hearing? When a person is arrested for a serious crime he or she is usually brought into court the next day. At this first appearance, a person will be arraigned, and a bail hearing will be held. After the bail hearing, the judge can release a person on no bail, release a person on bail, or hold the person without bail. The courts are reluctant to hold a person without bail except for extreme circumstances. There are certain situations in which the court will hold a person without bail; the most common example is when a person is charged with murder.

The prosecution must move for a dangerousness hearing at a person’s first appearance in court, which is usually the arraignment. If a dangerousness hearing is allowed by the judge, a person can be held without bail for up to 3 days to give the prosecution enough time to get ready for a hearing. The defendant’s lawyer may also ask for a 7 day extension to prepare for the hearing which the defendant would also be held without bail. If the court finds that a person is a danger after the hearing, a person can be held in custody for 60 days without bail. If a person is found not to be a danger, then he may be released on bail.

That is a quick summary of what a dangerousness hearing is, but you should get more information if you are planning to represent a person at these hearings. If you are a person about to face a dangerousness hearing, find a good attorney right away. Failing to get a good attorney could mean 60 solid days in jail.

The Boston Globe reports on Governor’s Patrick’s response to the SJC ruling
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/05/07/patrick_seeks_to_toughen_gun_laws/

The Sun Chronicle Report
http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2009/01/06/news/4191344.txt

New Bedford 360 Report
http://www.newbedford360.com/articles/articles/645/1/Bristol-County-District-Attorney-Sam-Sutters-office-will-be-holding-its-landmark-150th-illegal-firearm-related-dangerousness-hearing/Page1.html

Governor’s Patrick’s response to the SJC ruling
http://www.newbedford360.com/articles/articles/645/1/Bristol-County-District-Attorney-Sam-Sutters-office-will-be-holding-its-landmark-150th-illegal-firearm-related-dangerousness-hearing/Page1.html

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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