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In Massachusetts District Court cases can begin by either an arrest and application by the police for a criminal charge to be issued or an application for complaint requesting a clerk magistrates hearing also known as a show cause hearing. When the police are witnesses to an event or the charge is a felony they have the right to apply directly for the charge to be issued and an accused would be brought to court in custody or sent a summons for an arraignment. An arraignment is the formal reading the of charges in open court where a plea of not guilty is entered and the court inquires of the accused as to whether he has an attorney or is seeking a court-appointed attorney because they cannot afford a private attorney. A court appointed attorney is only provided to the indigent or those who make less than a certain amount every year. The amount of salary required to not qualify for a court appointed attorney is very low, if you work at all it is difficult to receive a court-appointed attorney.

The other way the case can begin in District Court other then by arrest and arraignment is by application for criminal complaint. A person is entitled to have a criminal clerk magistrates hearing related to misdemeanors in which the police are not a witness. The clerk magistrate or show cause hearing is an informal hearing in front of the clerk magistrate in which a police officer usually reads from a police report as to the facts which make up the charge against the accused. At times witnesses are brought in by the police to testify especially when it is one witness’s word versus the accused which makes up the case. The standard of proof for issuing the charge is one of probable cause to believe that the accused was involved in the crime. The clerk magistrate’s hearing is not a trial, rules of evidence are relaxed and a clerk is the one who decides whether probable cause exists to issue a charge. An accused can testify and also bring in witnesses or evidence to help explain his side. One must be very careful because the accused will be placed under oath anything a person says at the hearing can be used against him on a later date if the charges issue.

The clerk magistrate can decide not to issue the charge and take the matter under advisement where it will disappear after a certain amount of time as long as there are no new accusations against the accused. A matter can always be brought back on a later date and issued if new developments have aggravated the situation.

If the clerk decides to issue the charge all this means is that now the case will begin in court and the accused will be given a date for arraignment for the case to begin. This is basically how cases begin in District Court.

Every county in Massachusetts has several district courts within it but each county only has one Superior Court. The superior courts handle more serious matters which are those which Carry a potential sentence of over 2 1/2 years. 2 1/2 years is the longest a person can be sent to the House of Corrections, if a charge requires a longer sentence it is served at the department of corrections. The department of corrections deals with those convicted of felonies and sentenced to over 2 ½ years. The Department of Corrections has different levels from maximum security for violent felons down to minimum-security or Workcamp type facilities.

For a case to reach Superior Court the accused must be indicted by a grand jury or have a probable cause hearing in front of a judge. The purpose for this is to assure there is minimal proof linking the accused to the crime before requiring the person to face charges. This is the same purpose of the clerk magistrate hearing in District Court. A grand jury is usually made up of anywhere between 16 to 25 people from the community who sit for a term of several months hearing large amounts of cases presented by the prosecutor’s office. The grand jury is a private hearing in which the prosecutor informally presents evidence such as police officers or detectives as well as the victims of crimes who relate the evidence against the accused and the charges that are being sought against the accused. Grand jurors can ask questions of the witnesses as can the prosecutor who directs the witnesses testimony. An accused and his attorney have no right to be present in the grand jury while they are hearing or deciding on a case. At times and accused may request to testify and give his side of events to a grand jury. A criminal lawyer must be consulted before someone offers to testify in front of a grand jury especially if they are considered the target of the investigation. The level of proof to indict someone is again based on probable cause linking the accused to the crime. It is not a trial, the defendant and his attorney are not even present. It is merely a show cause hearing to ensure that there is some link between the accused and the crime.

A probable cause hearing is also another manner in which a person may be indicted. It is used very rarely. It is a hearing in which the accused and his attorney are present in open court and where evidence is presented to a judge rather than a grand jury, very similar to a clerk magistrates hearing but the judge decides whether probable cause exists for a charge to be issued. The differences is the accused is present with an attorney and the witnesses can be cross examined and what they say can be used later against the witness if the case is issued by the judge. The reason that this is used so rarely by the Commonwealth is because it offers the defense a bite at the Apple when it comes to cross examining the witnesses. Many cases especially sexual assaults are sensitive in nature and the Commonwealth attempts to limit the exposure of the victim or central witnesses who would need to testify. Probable cause hearings
also require the court to expend judicial resources that are very limited already in dealing with huge bottleneck of pending charges that already exist on the trial docket.

If you face a clerk magistrates hearing or if you or summonsed as a witness or the target of a grand jury proceeding you need to speak with a criminal lawyer in Boston as soon as possible to get advice as to what to expect in your best course of action. Feel free to call Frank Fernandez a Boston from a lawyer to receive a free consultation related to your specific situation. Please call 617-393-0250

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Client is a software engineer from India who would suffer the loss of employment if her company became aware of her being charged with the felony of larceny over $250. She is here on an H-1 B business visa and is the sole provider for her family back in India. Based on the extreme hardship she would suffer I was able to speak with the prosecutor explain situation and convince the Commonwealth to agree to postpone arraignment for her to complete 40 hours of community service. Upon completion of 40 hours of community service at a nonprofit organization they agreed to dismiss charges of larceny over 250 and receiving stolen property prior to arraignment.

Client was found with over two thousand dollars worth of merchandise that was taken from two stores. Since the merchandise was valued over $250 she was not charged with shoplifting but the more serious felony charge of larceny over $250 and receiving stolen property. The receiving stolen property charge was related to the property in her possession which was from another store. These types of matters can either be scheduled for a clerk magistrate hearing or in this case the person can be arrested, a bail set and scheduled for arraignment. She was arrested by the Braintree police and released on her own personal recognizance to appear in Quincy district court today.

As a criminal lawyer in Boston Frank Fernandez has handled many magistrate hearings some in Quincy, Boston Municipal Court and many other counties all around Massachusetts. A Clerk magistrate hearing is a hearing before a clerk in which the clerk of court decides whether probable cause exists to charge someone with a crime. The officer involved in the arrest does not need to appear. At times a witness or victim may be summonsed to testify. Hearsay is allowed and a clerk may hear from an officer not involved with the case who merely reads the police report as a summary of what took place. A person can then ask questions of the officer or be sworn in and testify themselves as to their version of the events. Anything you say can be used in future proceedings against you if charged with a crime. It is important to have a criminal attorney represent you to be able to speak on your behalf without you making any admissions or make statements which can later be used against you. A criminal lawyer can inform the clerk as to your personal situation and give reasons why a charge should not issue. Attorney Fernandez has been very successful in convincing the court to not proceed with charges although probable cause exists.

If you receive a summons in the mail for a clerk magistrate or show cause hearing related to any type of crime including shoplifting, larceny, salt and battery or any criminal violation is important to speak with criminal lawyer as quickly as possible to get advice. Criminal lawyer Frank Fernandez is happy to speak with you and give you a free consultation as to what you should expect.

Call for free consultation related to your case and speak with a criminal lawyer in Boston now. 617-393-0250

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On Wednesday, October 15 Max Bickford was riding a moped in downtown Boston when all of the sudden a plainclothes police officer chased a suspect into the street in front of him. The suspect was arrested stopping traffic. Bickford took out his cell phone and began to videotape the arrest. The officer told him to move out of the way which he did. In the video the officer is then seen grabbing Beckford’s phone and this is where the video ends. Bickford states that the officer then threw the phone on the ground breaking the face of it. He was placed in handcuffs and thrown to the ground himself. He was eventually released and given back his broken cell phone.

Bickford called the police station to lodge a complaint and was told by the lieutenant that the officer believed there may have been evidence on the cell phone. It is not illegal to videotape an arrest made in public. The police need a search warrant to seize and look into phones content.

The Boston police, as well as all police departments all over the country, need to start to get used to the idea that they can and will be videotaped in the performance of their duties in public. Large cities such as London have video cameras set up throughout the whole city which allows for surveillance from a main headquarters to provide Public Safety and evidence. It is about time that the police begin to use video surveillance to their own advantage. Many crimes have no witnesses but yet can’t be solved through surveillance video of a public area.

Some police departments are experimenting with police worn video cameras on their chest which records video and audio of the officer performing his duties.
This can provide evidence for the police and identification of the suspect; this can only help prove a criminal case. It will also keep the police honest. If the police truly want to avoid continuous complaints of police brutality or
mistreatment of civilians on the street by abusive police officers then why not agree to videotape their interactions with the public?

Video surveillance should become commonplace, it will help the police with their gathering of evidence and it will keep them honest in their dealings with the public in that any abusive behavior by rogue police officers will be captured on tape and can be used to get them off the force. Many fear the video surveillance of public areas may encroach upon a right to privacy. I am not advocating for video cameras to be placed in private areas or a position in which they encroach on anyone’s privacy. People who are in public areas such as streets or parks should expect that their behavior may be recorded. This can only help in protecting our streets. We can learn a lot from cities with advanced technology already in place such as London.

This will help cut down on the police over reaching their boundaries and violating people’s rights and will provide evidence of whether true probable cause exists for an arrest.

Right now police type up a police report with their version of the events and probable cause as to their actions without any evidence of what really took place on the street. A suspect is left to tell his side at a trial after having been arrested charged and gone through a lengthy court process waiting for his trial date in court. Rather than allow for a suspect to face criminal charges based solely on a version of events in a police report why not use video surveillance which is now affordable and in the form which can easily be used. All interviews of suspects should be audio taped yet they are still routinely not. Suspects give statements which are misconstrued and written in a report skewing what was truly said. Video capabilities are inexpensive and can be used by police departments without any consequence other than making themselves accountable for their actions.

Frank Fernandez is a criminal lawyer in Boston who serves all of Massachusetts.

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Boston Municipal Court client is charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of a firearm without a license. The possession of a firearm without a license charge carries a mandatory minimum 18 months House of corrections sentence.

Facts of the case are that client goes to a friend’s home with a backpack with a couple small bags of marijuana in the backpack as well as a weight scale. While the client is charging his phone in the upstairs bedroom of his friends home two cousins of his friend come running back into the home stating that the police are on their way.

One of them stated that the gun jammed on him. Police arrive on the scene,
the client in fear that he will be caught with his backpack with the marijuana and scale shuts the door to the home. All others are outside of the house at this point. The police draw their attention to the home and eventually are allowed in and search, Clients backpack is found in the upstairs bedroom along with his phone charging, a gun is found under the mattress.

Client received a continuance without a finding related to the marijuana charge.
A continuance without a finding is when a client makes an admission to a charge waving his rights to trial but yet a judge does not find him guilty but rather continues the matter without any finding for a period of time, usually about a year. As long as there are no new charges or incidents the case is dismissed after the year.
It is an alternative disposition which avoids a conviction and is usually only offered to first-time offenders on non-violent type offenses.

A Jury trial took place related to the firearm charge, the client had made a statement to the police denying any knowledge that the gun was in the home and relaying what he had heard the others say when entering the home. The jury found client not guilty to possession of the firearm. The client’s recorded statement to the police only hours after the incident was very powerful evidence for the jury. He was very clear and gave detailed descriptions as to what took place when the two others came running back to the home. The client did not testify at trial but rather spoke to the jury through his recorded statement at the time of his arrest.

There was just not enough evidence tying the client to the firearm in that his statement made it clear that his behavior was related to his fear of being found with marijuana and the scale in his backpack and had nothing to do with a firearm.

It is unusual to have such a helpful recorded statement after an arrest, usually it is best to remain silent if what you say may in anyway incriminate you.

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A Northeastern University student reported an attack in the early morning of Thursday while walking on Huntington Avenue. Northeastern police report that the student was grabbed by her neck and the assailant attempt to drag her down an alley on the 500 block of Huntington Avenue near the Wentworth Institute of technology. The young student began to scream which drew the attention of nearby security officers which caused the assailant to run from the scene. The suspect is described as a black male in his 20s 6’2″ approximately 180 pounds.

As a criminal lawyer in Boston it is this time of year when university students return to the city that there is an uptick in assaults and sexual assault type crimes. Any students who are new to the area should be extra cautious especially late at night. Many areas of the city can be dangerous it is important to become familiar with your surroundings and your new neighborhood before venturing out alone late at night.

Having defended many accused of both assault and sexual assaults it is common for them to prey on people who walk alone or who are distracted by looking at their phones.

If attacked a person should call out for help, as this student did, and try to distance themselves from the assailant and find a place where others might be. It is also smart to walk with your keys in your hand to use as some form of defense if someone attacks you by surprise.

Newly arrived university students should also be aware that the police are cracking down on noise level complaints and parties. The city of Boston has a high population of working residents who frown on loud late night parties. It is not uncommon for the police to set a tone early in the semester by making an example by arresting those tenants who were having late night parties at the beginning of the semester.

Frank Fernandez has represented many students charged with noise violations,
parties and underage drinking. It is important to try to protect a young student’s criminal record so they will not have to answer to these types of charges for the rest of their lives when applying for employment or graduate studies.

Cases handled on behalf of University Students have ranged from: drug possession, sexual assault, underage drinking, assault and battery as well as disciplinary proceedings brought by the University Disciplinary Committee. It is important to find a criminal lawyer in Boston who will make sure to protect your criminal record as much as possible. It is important to keep your record clean to avoid having to answer for an event that occurred one night in college for the rest of your lives.

For a free consultation related to any university type violations or if a
Student is charged criminally please call 617-393-0250 or visit www.thefernandezfirm.com.

Employers and graduate schools will ask about your criminal history on applications, it is important to be able to answer those questions related to criminal convictions in the negative. Speak with a criminal lawyer in Boston with experience in protecting university student’s criminal records.

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Client was charged in Boston municipal court with two counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine.

Narcotic detectives testified that after seeing a person come and go from the clients apartment in a short time frame that they then knock on the client’s door to investigate based on a suspicion drug dealing was taking place. The detectives allege client allowed them to search his apartment. Narcotics officers discover crack floating in the toilet, the bathroom window open and a cell phone sitting on the ledge. They then discover a second suspect outside the apartment who was arrested for possession of drugs. In the clients bedroom they allege that they find a scale baggies and a packet of heroin. Client is charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine.

Client testifies at trial and states that he never gave permission for the police to search his apartment and that he had no knowledge of any drugs in his apartment.

After the jury deliberates for approximately one hour they return a verdict of not guilty as to both counts.

Frank Fernandez a criminal defense attorney in Boston handles cases related to drug distribution, possession and Trafficking and Drugs. Drug cases are handled throughout all of Massachusetts and range from district state and federal court.
Please call for a free consultation.

The elements which make up Possession with intent to distribute are:

2009 Edition DISTRIBUTION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE;
POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE DISTRIBUTION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE;
POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE The defendant is charged with having unlawfully (distributed)
(possessed with the intent to distr ibute) a Class ___ controlled substance,
namely ____ .
Section ___ of chapter 94C of our General Laws provides as follows:
“Any person who knowingly or intentionally . . .
(distributes) (possesses with intent to . . . distribute)
a controlled substance
[categorized by the law] in Class ___ . . .
shall be punished . . . .”
In order to prove the defendant guilty of this offense, the Commonwealth must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:
First:
That the substance in question is a Class ___ controlled substance, namely _______ ;
Second:
That the defendant (distributed some perceptible amount of that substance to another person or persons) (possessed some perceptible amount of that substance with the intent
to distribute it to another person Instruction 7.800 Page 2 DISTRIBUTION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE;
2009 Edition POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE or persons); and Third:
That the defendant did so knowingly or intentionally.

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The federal sentencing commission is recommending the reduction in drug sentences be applied retroactively to 46,000 prisoners currently incarcerated.
The sentencing commission has recently recommended that a two level reduction in the guideline level be applied to all drug offenses.

The reduction is based on attempting to minimize the amount of nonviolent drug offenders who are incarcerated in the federal system. The strict and harsh sentencing in federal drug cases has led to a serious overpopulation of federal prisons which has placed the majority of these prisons at overcapacity and cost the taxpayer vasts amounts of money to attempt to keep up with the ever-increasing prison population.

Nonviolent drug offenders have faced extreme mandatory minimum sentences and very high guideline levels; the sentencing commission is attempting to curb this trend. Eric Holder the Attorney General has also recommended to his offices that they avoid charging extreme mandatory minimums which do not allow judges to exercise discretion against nonviolent drug offenders.

By applying this reduction retroactively approximately 46,000 prisoners may receive up to a 25 month reduction in their sentence. This will alleviate some of the costs and housing of these prisoners and allow the federal prison system to focus on violent offenders and others deserving of long incarcerations. Drug offenders are being viewed as requiring treatment or rehabilitation rather than long incarceration.

It is out of necessity that Congress and the sentencing commission has finally realized that their strict and harsh sentencing of drug offenders has overburdened our prison system. Retroactive application of this guideline reduction still must be passed by Congress which is expected. The reductions will then begin in November with a review of each individual Case to see whether there would be any danger to public safety prior to approving the release.

Congress waged a war on drugs with extreme penalties against drug offenses such as trafficking in drugs and distribution. Trafficking means possession of such a large quantity of drugs that it can be assumed it is not for personal use but rather distribution. When you hear of a trafficking charge it means that the person is being charged with possession with the intent to distribute based on the large amount of drugs in their possession. The war on drugs filled our federal prisons with a large amount of drug traffickers. These drug traffickers have been overpopulating our prsions requiring taxpayers to pay for new prisons and have overcrowded the existing system. Our federal prison system cannot handle the volume and length of inmate sentences it has been supporting. Something needs to change, thus the recommendation to reduce sentences for non-violent drug offenders to relieve some of this pressure.

Frank Fernandez is a Boston criminal lawyer who handles federal drug cases.
Crimes ranging from drug trafficking to possession with intent to distribute both in federal and state court are carefully reviewed and represented. As a Boston criminal lawyer Mr. Fernandez agrees with this new reduction and is happy to offer a free consultation for those facing drug related charges in either federal or state court. For free consultation please call 617-393-0250.

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The charge of accosting a person of the opposite sex requires an act or statement to be made which is disorderly and offensive to a reasonable person and the appellate courts have interpreted this charge to require the offense to be of a sexual nature.

As a criminal defense lawyer based in Boston serving all of Massachusetts Attorney Frank Fernandez represents clients charged with accosting a person of the opposite sex. For a free consultation please feel free to call 617-393-0250.

The Massachusetts Model Jury Instruction for this charge is below:

Revised May 2014 ANNOYING AND ACCOSTING PERSONS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX ANNOYING AND ACCOSTING PERSONS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX G.L. c. 272, § 53 The defendant is charged with accosting and annoying a person of the opposite sex.
In order to prove the defendant guilty of this offense, the Commonwealth must prove five things beyond a reasonable doubt:
First: That the defendant knowingly engaged in an offensive and disorderly act (or acts), or offensive and disorderly language;
Second: That the defendant intended to direct that conduct to [alleged victim] ;
Third: That [alleged victim] was aware of the defendant’s offensive and disorderly conduct;
Fourth: That this conduct was offensive to a reasonable person; and Fifth: That [alleged victim] was a person of the opposite sex.
To prove the first element of the offense, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt either that the defendant committed a disorderly act (or acts) or that (he) (she) used disorderly language.
To be disorderly, the defendant’s act (or acts) or language must involve one of the following four things without a legitimate reason:Instruction 6.600 Page 2 ANNOYING AND ACCOSTING PERSONS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX Revised May 2014 • it must involve fighting or violent or tumultuous behavior; or • it must create a hazardous condition; or • it must create a physically offensive condition that amounts to an invasion of personal privacy; or • it must be threatening.
A threat may take many forms. It may be an explicit threat, a comment, or an act that would make a reasonable person fearful, not just uncomfortable. The Commonwealth is not required to prove that the defendant intended any threat to be immediately followed by actual violence or the use of physical force. You may consider all of the evidence and any reasonable inferences you choose to draw from the evidence to determine whether any act or language was reasonably viewed as truly threatening.
SUPPLEMENTAL INSTRUCTION If sexually explicit language is involved. Sexually explicit language may be inherently threatening when it is directed at particular individuals in settings in which such communications are inappropriate and likely to cause severe distress.Page 3 Instruction 6.600 Revised May 2014 ANNOYING AND ACCOSTING PERSONS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX “The term ‘true threat’ has been adopted to help distinguish between words that literally threaten but have an expressive purpose such as political hyperbole, and words that are intended to place the target of the threat in fear, whether the threat is veiled or explicit.” Commonwealth v. Chou, 433 Mass. 229, 236 (2001). See Commonwealth v. Ramirez, 69 Mass. App. Ct. 9, 21-22 (2007)
(defendant staring at complainant at swimming pool and singing her a song about “falling in love with a little girl” insufficient to infer that he intended her to fear that harm would befall her).
To prove the second element, the Commonwealth must prove that the conduct was directed at and received by the [alleged victim] .
To prove the third element, the Commonwealth must prove that [alleged victim] knew of the defendant’s offensive and disorderly conduct.
To prove the fourth element of the offense, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the disorderly act(s) or language (was) (were) sexual in nature and would be offensive to a reasonable person in the complainant’s position. An act or language is offensive when it is repugnant or offensive to contemporary standards of decency and causes real displeasure, anger, or resentment. An act or language is offensive when it is contrary to the prevailing sense of what is decent or moral.
Commonwealth v. Cahill, 446 Mass. 778, 781, 783 (2006) (Commonwealth must prove that defendant’s behavior was offensive and disorderly to a reasonable person).
NOTES:
1. Offensive and disorderly are distinct elements. The Commonwealth must prove both that the conduct was offensive and disorderly. Commonwealth v. Lombard, 321 Mass. 294 (1947).
2. A single act sufficient. The statute originally penalized “persons who with offensive and disorderly act or language accost or annoy persons of the opposite sex.” In 1983, the word “act” was changed to “acts.”Instruction 6.600 Page 4 ANNOYING AND ACCOSTING PERSONS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX Revised May 2014 St. 1983, c. 66, § 1. Nevertheless, “the change had no impact on the statute’s meaning,” Commonwealth v. Moran,
80 Mass. App. Ct. 8, 13 (2011), and proof of a single disorderly and offensive act is sufficient.
3. Invasion of privacy need not be extreme. The word “extreme” was deleted from this instruction after the decision in Commonwealth v. Cahill, 446 Mass. 778, 782 (2006) (statute not limited to extreme invasions of personal privacy), rev’g Commonwealth v. Cahill, 64 Mass. App. Ct. 911 (2005).
4. “Physically offensive condition.” If the act was physically offensive, it need not also be threatening,
Cahill, 446 Mass. at 783, and vice versa, Commonwealth v. Chou, 433 Mass. 229, 234 (2001) (distribution of sexually derogatory flyers concerning victim was not physically offensive but was threatening).
“Offensive acts are those that cause ‘displeasure, anger or resentment; esp., repugnant to the prevailing sense of what is decent or moral.'” Cahill, 446 Mass. at 781, quoting Black’s Law Dictionary 1113 (8th ed. 2004). Conduct is physical when it is “‘of or relating to the body.'” Ramirez, 69 Mass. App. Ct. at 17, quoting Merriam-W ebster’s Collegiate Dictionary 935 (11th ed. 2005). Physical contact with a victim’s person is not necessary to render one’s actions physically offensive, however. Cahill, 446 Mass. at 782, citing Commonwealth v. LePore, 40 Mass. App. Ct.
543, 549 (1996) (physically offensive conduct where defendant removed screen from bedroom window of ground floor apartment wherein woman lay sleeping and stood there smoking cigarettes). Cf. Ramirez, 69 Mass. App. Ct. at 16 (no physically offensive conduct where defendant merely stared at complainant at swimming pool and sang her a song about “falling in love with a little girl”).
5. Public or private. The offense may be committed in public or in private. Cahill, 446 Mass. at 782 n.6; Chou, 433 Mass. at 233.
6. “Offensive” conduct must have sexual context. “Offensive conduct under the statute is that which causes ‘displeasure, anger or resentment’ and is ‘repugnant to the prevailing sense of what is decent or moral.’
Commonwealth v. Cahill, 446 Mass. 778, 781 (2006), quoting from Black’s Law Dictionary 1113 (8th ed. 2004). In determining whether conduct is not ‘decent or moral’ within the meaning of the statute, our appellate cases suggest an intent to reach sexually explicit language or acts.” Commonwealth v. Sullivan, 84 Mass. App. Ct. 26, 30 (2013).

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A Boston police officer who has been on administrative leave since September 2013 was arrested after taking a police cruiser he was not authorized to use. The police cruiser was taken from Dist. C 11 in Dorchester, it appears he drove to Revere and was involved in a domestic incident that the Revere police are now investigating.

Donovan was arrested after the police car was found in Dorchester near his residence on Friday night. He’s been an officer since 2002 and has criminal charges pending related to larceny and now unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charges as well.

Every police department has an internal affairs division which investigate any complaints or suspicions of illegal activity from police in that department. Any allegations of police abuse or criminal activity will be investigated by the internal affairs division. Officers can suffer anything from suspension and firing to other disciplinary type proceedings which are then put in their personnel file.

When an officer testifies in a criminal case his personnel file may be made available and used to cross-examine him if it contains allegations or disciplinary proceedings that go to the officers credibility. That’s why it’s important to know who is testifying and obtain their personnel file if possible to see if there’s anything that can be used to challenge their Credibility during cross examination.

Frank Fernandez is a criminal lawyer in Boston serving all of Massachusetts in criminal litigation. Please feel free to call for free consultation 617-393-0250.

Police Departments are made up of officers and detectives grouped in different departments. Departments can be based on types of crimes or divided in a way that best makes sense. There are gang units, fugitive from justice units, violent crimes tasks force, drug units. Officers can be uniformed or work in plain clothes in an undercover capacity.

The police put their lives on the line everyday and work hard and receive little thanks for their hard work on a day to day basis. Police have a lot of power on the streets and generally deserve and receive the respect of civilians in the community who they protect. But like in any organization or society there are some bad apples who abuse their position of power or trust for their own benefit.

The internal affairs division is there to police the police and make sure any allegations of abuse of power or illegal activity by law enforcement is investigated and dealt with to ensure those bad apples are weeded out.

As a criminal defense attorney in Boston it is important to know those officers who are disciplined or fired for activity which is illegal since this goes directly to their credibility and can be brought out if they testify in cross-examination.

Many cases fall apart because the main officer needed to testify is no longer able to testify whether because they are retired and unavailable or because they were fired for disciplinary reasons and are no longer viewed as credible witnesses who can testify related to their prior criminal arrests. Cases can be won by knowing the status of the essential officers in your case. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will know whether the officers in your case are unable to testify.

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A Suffolk County Grand Jury decided not to indict a truck driver, Ricky Prezioso, 41,
who was initially charged with leaving the scene of an accident that caused the death of a bicyclist. The accident occurred in Charlestown on Cambridge Street where a bicyclist traveling in the bike lane was struck by the back of a trash truck at a corner while the truck was taking a turn. The truck driver claims not to have seen the biker and claims that he thought the impact was a pothole that he must have run over.

Although initially charged by the police and the prosecutor in Charlestown district court, for a case to be indicted, which then allows the case to go to Superior Court, it either must be true billed by a grand jury or through a probable cause hearing in court in which a judge finds probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

Probable cause hearings are very rare in Massachusetts, the prosecutors do not wish to present testimony and face cross-examination in such an early stage in their case. Most cases that are brought to Superior Court go the route of being indicted by grand jury; the grand jurys across the state are notoriously delayed and take a long time for cases to be processed. A backlog exists because this is the only manner in which the District Attorney’s Office takes cases to Superior Court.

The grand jury hears testimony from witnesses or police officers who summarize testimony, the defendant is not present nor is his attorney, only the prosecutor and the grand jurors are present and hear evidence. The grand jury then just must find probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, this is a very low standard of proof, they are not deciding the guilt or innocence of a suspect but rather are used as a checks and balances to make sure that the person indicted, being charged, does in fact have some type of connection to the case and that a crime actually took place.

In this instance the grand jury must have found that the driver did not leave the scene of an accident knowing that he caused an accident or injury. Leaving the scene of the crash causing injury or death requires that the suspect charged have knowledge or intent to leave knowing that he has caused injury or death in an accident. At times a suspect may willingly offer his testimony at a grand jury. Many suspects testify in front of a grand jury when there is a defense or another side that the grand jury should hear in making their probable cause decision. Whether Prezioso testified in front of the grand jury is not known.

It is important to have a good defense attorney involved in your case as early as possible so that the decision whether to present testimony to a grand jury can be made.

Frank Fernandez is a criminal lawyer in Boston who is happy to help and offers free consultations for anyone with questions about criminal defense or grand jury investigations. To speak with a criminal attorney serving all of Massachusetts please call 617-393-0250.

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