201704.28
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PRETRIAL DIVERSION UNDER THE VALOR ACT

In 2012, the Massachusetts legislature enacted the VALOR Act, which, among other things, amended the pretrial diversion procedures in the criminal courts so as to allow judges flexibility when dealing with military veterans.  Defense attorneys and prosecutors have been arguing over the correct interpretation and implementation of the statute ever since. The most common disagreement…

201704.20
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ALL I TOLD THE POLICE WAS “I DON’T KNOW.”

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 268, section 13B criminalizes “witness intimidation.”  This exceptionally broad statute prohibits a panoply of conduct, and perhaps most often comes into play when an individual grabs a cellphone from another person who is alleged to have been trying to call the police.  I have represented many clients charged with “witness intimidation”…

201703.31
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WHAT ARE THE MARIJUANA LAWS IN MASSACHUSETTS IN 2017 AND AFTER?

Effective December 15, 2016, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (the “Act”) makes the non-medical recreational possession of marijuana legal for all adults, subject to certain limitations. The first thing to note is that the Act only applies to adults 21 and over.  Under age 21, the prior law decriminalizing marijuana up to an…

201703.21
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WHAT HAPPENS TO MY BAIL MONEY?

When a person is arraigned on criminal charges (arraignment means the first court appearance, at which the defendant is told about what the criminal charges are against them, and then asked if they want to represent themselves or rather want a lawyer to represent them), the matter of bail is always on the table.  If…

201702.22
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HOW DO I SEAL MY CRIMINAL RECORD IN MASSACHUSETTS?

Because of the inherent negative collateral consequences of a having a criminal record, e.g., becoming unemployable, difficulty obtaining housing, many people seek to have their record sealed.  In Massachusetts, the sealing of a criminal record – or more accurately, the sealing of certain criminal charges on a criminal record – is governed by both statutory…

201611.25
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PROBABLE CAUSE TO ARREST FOR DRUG DISTRIBUTION EVEN THOUGH POLICE DID NOT ACTUALLY SEE ANY HAND-TO-HAND TRANSACTION – OR EVEN ANYTHING CLOSE TO ONE

Recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court further fleshed-out the law with respect to probable cause to arrest for street-level drug transactions.  Typically, these cases involve the police observing someone passing an object to another person under suspicious circumstances, such as when one car pulls alongside another in a parking lot, and the occupants of the…

201611.18
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POLICE SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF STUDENT CELLPHONE HELD UNCONSTITUTIONAL

In Commonwealth v. White (2016), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a Superior Court judge’s allowance of a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence found within the defendant’s cellphone, finding that the warrantless seizure of the cellphone was unreasonable, and that the subsequent search of the cellphone was similarly unlawful. The case involved a high school…