DUI Attorney

With the Super Bowl here, many people will be attending parties at bars and at homes throughout the Commonwealth.  It is important to remember that just as many of you will be out celebrating the Super Bowl, the police will be out looking for those suspected of DUI.  As a result, keep in mind a few pieces of information from a DUI Attorney.

First of all, the police may pull you over for any civil motor vehicle infraction.  This includes, speeding, going over the marked lanes, as well as committing a right turn violation, just to name a few.  Similarly, as the officer approaches the vehicle, if he or she smells the odor of an alcoholic beverage within the vehicle, or if the operator has red, glossy eyes or even looks lethargic, the police officer will ask a series of question to elicit if alcohol was being consumed, how much, and when.

At this point, if the officer suspects that the operator has consumed alcohol or may be under the influence of alcohol, the operator will be ordered out of the vehicle and asked to perform field sobriety tests.  Keep in mind that the officer is looking to see if the driver has any difficulty turning the vehicle off, and exiting the vehicle at this point.  It is further worth noting that even though the police may ask an operator to perform field sobriety tests, you are under no obligation to do so, and any refusal is inadmissible at trial against you under Massachusetts law.

Finally, if the police make the decision to arrest, there will be an opportunity to take a breathalyzer test back at the police station.  A refusal on this test is similarly inadmissible at trial in the Commonwealth’s case in chief under Massachusetts law, however, a significant consequence of a breathalyzer test refusal is loss of license.

So if you or someone you know finds yourself charged with DUI, contact a DUI attorney who will fight for you at trial, and who will help you to regain your license as quickly as possible.  Don’t hesitate, call right away.

Criminal Lawyer

Many of you have commented and have expressed interest in the case involving the Becker College student who is facing home invasion charges.  It goes without saying that home invasion is an extraordinarily serious allegation under Massachusetts law, and if a prison sentence is imposed, it carries a minimum 20 year sentence.  As more and more home invasion allegations are being brought forward, it is important to focus on what the government must show in order to prove a home invasion charge.

To prove a home invasion under Massachusetts law, the Commonwealth must show: entry upon the dwelling house of another; at a time that the defendant knew or had reason to know that someone was present in the dwelling; while armed with a dangerous weapon upon entry; and finally that force was used upon any person within the dwelling, or any person within was threatened with the use of force, or injury was caused to any person within the dwelling.

The key element that separates a home invasion from other charges is being armed with a dangerous weapon upon entry into the dwelling.  A dangerous weapon is any instrument that by nature of its construction or the manner of its use is capable of causing grievous bodily injury or death or would be perceived by a reasonable person as capable of such injury.  The definition of a dangerous weapon also includes any instrument or instrumentality which, because of the manner it is used or is attempted to be used, endangers the life or inflicts great bodily injury, or that is calculated as likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.

As a result, if you or someone you know is facing a home invasion allegation, don’t take a potential 20 year prison sentence lightly.  Contact a criminal lawyer today who will fight for you and who will attack the Commonwealth’s case.

Criminal Law Attorney

If you are arrested for certain specified drug offenses under Massachusetts law, and these offenses occur within 300 feet of a school zone between the hours of 5 a.m. and midnight, there is an enhanced penalty under Massachusetts law.  If found in violation of the statute and given a house of correction sentence, the punishment is for not less than 2 years nor more than 2.5.

If sent to the state prison, the sentence is for not less than 2.5 years, and for not more than 15 years.  Any sentence under the school zone statute is to run on and after the sentence for the underlying drug case.

It is important to note, however, that the school zone statute was recently amended by the legislature within the past year, changing the distance required to be found in violation under the statute from 1,000 to 300 feet, and abolishing any potential violations between the hours of 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.  This highlights the legislature’s intent that the statute be tailored to drug cases occurring in very close proximity to a school, at a time when there is a possibility that a school activity may be taking place.

Even with the legislature’s tightening up of the distance and time requirements under the statute, if you or someone you know is charged with such a violation, contact a criminal law attorney who will fight for you and who will challenge the Commonwealth’s evidence.

DUI Attorneys

If you are stopped while operating a motor vehicle on the public ways of the Commonwealth after consuming any amount of alcohol, you are likely to be asked to perform field sobriety tests.  You are not required to perform field sobriety tests under Massachusetts law, and the question that needs to be asked in all DUI cases is, how reliable are the tests in determining impairment?

For instance, a standardized test that is often given is the nine step walk and turn test.  Pursuant to this test, the police are looking to see if the person walks nine steps heel to toe in a straight line, with their arms by their sides.  The person then has to turn in a prescribed manner, taking nine steps back to the starting position.

Without considering the case where an individual may have difficulty with balance even though he/she hasn’t consumed any alcohol, consider the case where someone is stopped on the side of the road, late at night, in very cold weather.  If that person has to walk nine steps just off ofthe side of the highway, or other major roadway, with only headlights and a flashlight for lighting, should that person’s ability to keep their feet heel to toe determine impairment?

The answer is no, however, this is what happens in many roadside DUI cases across the Commonwealth.  If this is the case for you, or you know someone who is in such a situation, focus on those DUI attorneys who will fight for you.

Criminal Attorney

Many of you have commented on the Leominster man that is charged with armed robbery after allegedly using a knife in a store robbery last weekend.  In general, the government may prove an armed robbery if they show that an individual was armed with a dangerous weapon; that he applied actual force or violence to the body of the alleged victim, or put the alleged victim in fear by threatening words or gestures; that he took money or other property from the alleged victim with the intent to steal it; and that he took the property from the possession or immediate control of the alleged victim.

An often litigated issue in armed robbery cases is whether the item qualifies as a dangerous weapon.  The term “dangerous weapon” under the armed robbery statute is a term of art and it includes any instrument that by the nature of its construction or the manner of its use is capable of causing grievous bodily injury or death, or could be perceived by a reasonable person as capable of such injury.  This would include obvious examples such as firearms and knives, yet it would also include a pencil, if someone held it in their hand and was perceived as willing to stab another with it.

Another often litigated issue is whether or not it has to be shown by the Commonwealth that the person charged actually possessed a dangerous weapon, or whether it is sufficient that the alleged victim perceived the defendant as having a dangerous weapon.  The case law is conflicting in this area, yet it seems likely that the court will allow the charge to stand if it is perceived that the defendant has a dangerous weapon, and it isn’t specifically shown that his possession of such a weapon was impossible.

As a result, if you or someone you know is charged with armed robbery, there may be substantial defenses to explore.  Go with a criminal attorney who will fight for you and your rights.

Drunk Driving Lawyer

Under Massachusetts law, there is no charge called drunk driving.  There is a charge, however, entitled operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor.  To prove an OUI charge, the government must show that a person operated his her/her motor vehicle on a public way at a time that person’s alertness, judgment and ability to respond promptly were lessened by alcohol, or with a blood alcohol level of .08 or above.

This stature, read literally, means that any impairment of mental-clarity and reflexes is sufficient for operating under the influence, or a number of .08 or above is sufficient to prove the charge.  Obviously, the more evidence the Commonwealth has to show that an individual’s alertness, judgment and balance are compromised increases the odds of a conviction for the government.  Similarly, the higher the reading on the breath test, the more difficult it becomes to show that the reading could have been below .08 at the time of operation.

As a result, if you or someone you know is charged with what is commonly referred to as drunk driving, contact a drunk driving lawyer who will fight for you from arraignment through jury trial.  Your livelihood and your right to operate are on the line, so don’t make the decision lightly.

Criminal Defense Attorney

There is a significant difference under Massachusetts law between possession of illegal drugs and possession of drugs with intent to distribute.  For example, possession of cocaine is a misdemeanor, whereas possession with the intent to distribute cocaine is a felony.  The difference being that possession with intent to distribute cocaine carries with it a state prison sentence.

Although the penalties may be quite different and clear, the factual difference is not always so definitive.  For instance, consider the situation where the police find a large amount of cocaine on someone(less than trafficking weight), and the police also find a large amount of cash on the same person.  Does this mean that the large amount of cocaine had to be intended for distribution?  Also, is the amount of cash indicative of narcotics sales?

The answer to these questions is no, however, there doesn’t have to be any particular number of factors that tip the scale in favor of distribution.  The question is one of degree, as the more factors that suggest distribution will make it more likely that the Commonwealth will be able to prevail on a distribution allegation.  As a result, if you are faced with such a situation today, contact the criminal defense attorney who will fight for you and your rights.

Drunk Driving Lawyer

Whenever someone is arrested for drunk driving in Massachusetts, a central issue is going to be whether or not to take a breathalyzer test back at the police station.  If you find yourself faced with such a decision, it is important to keep a few things in mind.

For instance, even though you may not feel you have a reduced alertness or judgment, this doesn’t mean that your blood alcohol level as measured by your breath will be less than a .08.  Many factors will affect your blood alcohol level, such as, the last time you ate; how much you ate; how much you had to drink; as well as your size and weight.

Similarly, when you are making the decision whether or not to take the breathalyzer test, you will likely not know if your alcohol level is rising in your blood, or whether your level is on the decline.  This could skew the result of the test because your blood alcohol level could be higher or lower than it was upon operation of the motor vehicle, which is the defining moment under Massachusetts law.

Finally, the decision you make on whether or not to take the breathalyzer test will also impact your license.  A first offense breath test refusal results in a 6 month license suspension, whereas, if you take the breath test on a first offense you will lose your license for 30 days.  As a result, if you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving, contact an experienced and dedicated drunk driving lawyer today.

Field Sobriety Tests According to a Drunk Driving Attorney

Field sobriety tests are often referred to as divided attention tests.  They are designed to measure an individual’s ability to listen and process information as well as his or her coordination.  The three standard field sobriety tests in Massachusetts are the nine step walk and turn test, the one leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

The nine step walk and turn test is a balancing test where the subject is asked to walk nine steps in a straight line, touching heel to toe, with arms by his/her sides.  The person is then asked to turn, using several small pivoted steps, followed by a return nine steps in the same fashion to the starting position.

The one leg stand test is another standardized test where the subject is asked to raise the leg of his choice six inches off the ground, with toes pointed forward, keeping the arms by the sides.  The person performing the test will normally be asked to keep his foot off the ground for thirty seconds, or until the officer says to stop.

The final standardized field sobriety test in Massachusetts is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.  According to the field of forensic ophthalmology, there is a correlation between the consumption of alcohol and nystagmus, which is the involuntary movement of the eye.  The theory is that you can detect impairment by checking an individual’s eye to see if there is this involuntary movement.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is inadmissible under Massachusetts law, however, in the absence of expert testimony to qualify the expert, and to explain the correlation between alcohol consumption and nystagmus.  As always, if you or someone you know is charged with DUI, contact a drunk driving attorney who will fight for you and your rights.

Criminal Law Attorneys

As many of you might have seen in the media lately, there has been an upswing in the number of home invasions across the county.  To prove a home invasion under Massachusetts law, the Commonwealth must show: entry upon the dwelling house of another; at a time that the defendant knew or had reason to know that someone was present in the dwelling; while armed with a dangerous weapon upon entry; and finally that force was used upon any person within the dwelling, or any person within was threatened with the use of force, or injury was caused to any person within the dwelling.

To qualify as a dwelling, the Commonwealth must show that the premises were presently a place for the living and habitation of persons other than the defendant.  Similarly, to qualify as a dangerous weapon under the home invasion statute, the Commonwealth must show that the item is an instrument that by its nature of construction or the manner of its use is capable of causing grievous bodily injury or death, or would be perceived by a reasonable person as capable of such injury.  The definition of dangerous weapon also includes any instrument which, because of its manner of use, endangers the life or inflicts great bodily injury.  This could include a pencil if intended as a weapon.

The home invasion statute also carries with it a sentence of not less than 20 years in state prison and up to life.  As a result, home invasion is a very serious allegation, and you should choose among the criminal law attorneys who will fight for you and your rights.

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