201509.04
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CAN MY CHILDREN DECIDE WHO THEY WANT TO LIVE WITH?

Divorcing or divorced parents, along with parents of children born out of wedlock, often ask this question of their attorney around the time that their children become teenagers.  The quick and easy answer is no.  At least not if “decide” means “determine.”  If there is a custody order set by a judge, then only a…

201509.03
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PARENTAL PRIVILEGE DEFENSE TO CHILD SPANKING

In June of 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts finally formally recognized that a parent may use reasonable force to discipline his or her child.  The SJC began its opinion by commenting that the Court had previously decided cases under the assumption that a parent had a “parental privilege,” to spank a child, and…

201508.13
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Massachusetts Outlaws “Designer Drugs”

Massachusetts recently followed the lead of several states – and of the federal government – in proscribing the manufacture, possession or distribution of designer drugs. Generally speaking, a designer drug is a structural and functional analog of a controlled substance that has been designed to mimic the effects of the original banned drug, while at…

201508.03
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New Shoplifting Laws in Massachusetts

Do I need a lawyer if I am charged with shoplifting?  Probably. In January of 2015, Governor Baker signed into law “An Act to Improve the Criminal Laws Relative to Organized Retain Theft.” The Act, which is now in effect in Massachusetts, created several new crimes related to organized shoplifting. According to Wikipedia, Organized retail…

201508.01
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Warrant Required for Police to Search Cellphone

The case was Commonwealth v. Dyette, decided in 2015.  After an alleged foot chase, the defendant was arrested for possession of a gun that was found in a public park garbage can.  At the time of the arrest, the defendant claimed that he was not out of breath because he had been running from other…

201507.21
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Warrantless Entry

UNLAWFUL WARRANTLESS ENTRY DOESN’T LEAD TO SUPPRESSION OF EVIDENCE? I’m not in the habit of second-guessing the Massachusetts Appeals Court, but a recent decision of the Court disturbs me. The case is Commonwealth v. Komnenus, and it was decided on June 30, 2015. The case involved an appeal of a cocaine trafficking conviction that resulted…

201507.15
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Search and Seizure

In a recent Massachusetts Appeals Court case involving an arrest without a warrant, the Court reaffirmed that when a police officer yells at someone to “stop,” the police officer has “seized” that person, and therefor must have reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. In the case, Commonwealth…

201507.10
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Probation Violations

In the District Courts in Massachusetts, typically the most severe punishments are imposed for probation violations, rather than for being found guilty of a crime. Those who are given a jail sentence are almost always on probation when the sentence is imposed. At a probation violation hearing, a court can punish a probationer for either…