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Criminal Law Archives

Massachusetts Search Warrants and Curtilage

Often at issue in drug cases is the validity of searches and seizures of evidence. Even when the police obtain a search warrant, a defendant may challenge a search that is not authorized by the warrant. In Commonwealth v. Sanchez, the Massachusetts Appeals Court considered whether the search of an apartment authorized by a warrant extended to a shed in the back yard of the apartment.

No Right to Counsel for Massachusetts Defendant While Deciding Whether to Take a Breathalyzer Test

beer-1308039-639x791-242x300.jpgPursuant to the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Article 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, a criminal defendant has the right to counsel at "critical stages" of the prosecution. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has held that a defendant does not have a right to counsel before deciding whether to take a breathalyzer test. Those cases, however, were decided before a 2003 amendment that changed the Massachusetts DUI statute, G.L. c. 90, ยง 24. Before the amendment, there was a permissible inference that a person was under the influence with a blood alcohol level at or above .08. The amendment removed the permissible inference and made it a violation for a person to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level at or above .08.

Single Act or Separate Act: Duplicative Convictions on Lesser Included Offenses in Massachusetts

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that no one shall "be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb."  Most people understand that the Fifth Amendment protects a person from being tried for the same offense after being acquitted, but it also prohibits convictions for both greater and lesser included offenses, unless those offenses are based on separate acts.A lesser included offense is one for which all of the elements are included in the charged offense.  The Supreme Judicial Court recently considered whether actions that lead to separate injuries in a single incident constitute a single act or separate acts in the case of Commonwealth v. Figueroa.

Massachusetts Erroneous Conviction Statute and Insufficient Evidence Cases

Massachusetts law allows a person who has been the subject of an erroneous conviction to pursue a claim for compensation.  To recover, a person must first show that he or she is eligible as a member of the class set forth under the statute and then must prove by clear and convincing evidence that he or she did not commit the offense.  The Supreme Judicial Court recently considered the application of the erroneous conviction statute in a case where the conviction was overturned on appeal based on insufficient evidence.

Why The Supreme Judicial Court Ruled That The Disturbing Practice Of Upskirting Is Legal

In a decision that will certainly make the public wonder what were they thinking, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that "upskirting" is not a violation of Massachusetts' law. After examining the Court's decision, it appears that the justices are correct.

LANDLORDS BEWARE: NEW HOUSING RIGHTS FOR VICTIMS OF VIOLENT CRIMES

There are new housing rights for victims of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and stalking. Victims of these crimes now have increased rights to: 1) break a lease; 2) have apartment locks changed; 3) to not experience retaliation by a landlord, or a potential landlord in the future, for having had to break a lease or for having locks changed, and; 4) to not be evicted for getting a restraining order or for having to call the police. 

Going to Jail Because the Mailman Delivered the Mail to the Wrong Address

Imagine going to jail for three months because the mailman delivered a package to the wrong address, and then having your lawsuit for negligence against the United States Postal Service dismissed by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. This is exactly what happened to David Alves after he filed a civil action against the United State Postal Service and local Postal Inspector seeking monetary damages against the Postal Service for negligence.

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