201607.05
0
0

POLICE MUST EXPLAIN FACTUAL BASIS FOR BELIEF THAT A VEHICLE IS SPEEDING – A “HUNCH” IS NOT ENOUGH

The Supreme Judicial Court recently concluded that where a criminal defendant challenges the legality of a traffic stop for speeding, the police must articulate specific facts that support the conclusion that the defendant’s speed was greater that reasonable. In the 2016 case of Commonwealth v. Teixeira-Furtado, the police stopped a car for speeding.  At about…

201606.28
0
0

PARENTAL FITNESS DOES NOT REQUIRE PERFECTION

In May of 2016, the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed a Probate and Family Court decision dismissing a mother’s petition to remove her child’s paternal grandmother as the child’s guardian.  In reversing the decision, the Appeals Court reminded the Probate and Family Court, albeit in an unpublished decision, that the burden of proof to demonstrate a…

201604.16
0
0

CAN THE POLICE HAVE MY CAR TOWED AND IMPOUNDED IF I AM ARRESTED?

Getting arrested is often a traumatic event.  It usually comes unexpectedly, interrupting whatever plans you may have had.  It involves a temporary loss of liberty, and being physically restrained.  Typically, the arresting officer will be relatively curt with the arrestee.  And all the while, the arrestee knows that in the days, weeks and months to…

PLEADING THE 5th
201603.30
0
0

PLEADING THE 5th

The phrase, “I plead the 5th,” is bandied about a lot in television and movies, and most people have a general notion that it has something to do with the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Specifically, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in relevant part that “[n]o person…

201603.21
0
0

RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT OF A CHILD REQUIRES PROOF OF STATE OF MIND

Would a reasonable person go walking on railroad tracks with their child while drunk? And in a prosecution for reckless endangerment of a child in violation of Mass. General Laws Chapter 265, section 13L, is it enough for the government to prove that a reasonable person wouldn’t? The Supreme Judicial Court recently clarified the reckless…

201512.09
0
0

The “Trial Penalty”

In 2015, the House Judiciary Committee introduced several bills aimed at reforming the criminal-justice system in the United States. Among other things, the reforms seek to change the mandatory sentencing rules. However, one important issue that the bills do not address is the practice whereby judges impose severe sentences when a trial results in a…

FACEBOOK STALKING CONVICTION REVERSED
201511.23
0
0

FACEBOOK STALKING CONVICTION REVERSED

In a 2015 case (Commonwealth v. Walters, 472 Mass. 680 (2015)) watched closely by women’s groups, free speech proponents and domestic violence advocates, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recently reversed a stalking conviction based on a Facebook profile page containing a picture of the defendant seated smiling, with a gun in his lap, and…