Criminal Defense Lawyer: Sex Offense Charges

            If you are charged with a sex offense in Massachusetts the penalties can be much more substantial than just incarceration.  For instance, if you are convicted of a sex offense you will likely be required to register with the Sex Offender Registry Board.  This requires annual registration, and allows for public access to your personal information.

Additionally, many towns have residency requirements that disallow sex offenders from residing in certain locations.  For example, some towns won’t allow sex offenders to live within 1,000 feet of a school.  This can obviously be problematic if such person already owns a home within 1,000 feet of a school before any such conviction.

Similarly, if you are placed on probation for a sex offense, GPS is required for the period of probation.  The GPS will also include exclusion zones, or locations you can’t go to.  There is also a significant monthly cost for the GPS, which is in addition to the supervised probation fee.

Most convictions for sex offenses will also subject the person to submission of DNA for inclusion in the DNA database, and the potential to be examined for involuntary lifetime commitment under the sexually dangerous person’s statute.

As a result, if you are charged with a sex offense, contact a criminal defense attorney who will fight for you.  Don’t hesitate; the penalties are far too severe.

Drug Crime Attorney

Drug Crime Attorney

            If the police execute a search warrant for drugs at a residential address, the search warrant application must meet a constitutional threshold to be deemed valid.  At a minimum, there must be probable cause to believe that illegal drugs are located within the residence.  This is highlighted by Mass. General Laws Chapter 276 section 1, which deals with searches and warrants in general.

Similarly, if the search warrant application is based on controlled drug buys from the residence by a confidential informant, there must be information contained within the search warrant application identifying the informant’s past reliability and basis of knowledge that narcotics are contained within the residence.  Independent police corroboration of facts in the warrant affidavit can make up for deficiencies in the informant’s reliability and basis of knowledge.

Additionally, if you are not the subject of a search warrant and you just happen to be in the residence at the time of search and drugs are found, there has to be some evidence to establish that you either possessed the drugs or conspired with others to do so.

As a result, if you find yourself charged with a drug crime in Massachusetts, contact a drug crime attorney who knows how to fight for you.  Don’t hesitate there may be a mandatory minimum sentence waiting.

Criminal Defense Attorney

 If you are charged with a sex offense, there are many potential consequences beyond a criminal sentence.  For instance, if you are convicted of a sex offense and placed on probation, not only are you facing the conditions of GPS monitoring and sex offender counseling, but you will also likely have to register with the sex offender registry board.

The sex offender registry board will give you a preliminary classification as either a level 1, 2, or 3 offender, with the option to challenge such designation at a hearing before an examiner.  If given a level 3 classification, your personal information, including home address will be actively disseminated by the board and police.

A further consequence of a guilty finding on a sex offense is the potential to be committed to the Massachusetts treatment center as a sexually dangerous person.  In such a proceeding, if the district attorney petitions the Superior Court to hold someone as a sexually dangerous person and the court agrees, that individual is confined until a trial may be held to determine such person’s status.  If found to be sexually dangerous after trial, the you can be held at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater from one day to life.

With such significant collateral consequences flowing from a conviction for a sex offense, it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney with knowledge of the sex offense laws.  Don’t wait until it’s too late, make the call today.

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.

Driver’s Posture Leading to Drug Arrest in Sturbridge by a Criminal Defense Attorney

Many of you have expressed interest in the story of a driver’s posture leading to a drug arrest on Interstate 84 in Sturbridge.  According to criminal defense attorney Shane W. Surrette, in this case, and in any case involving a motor vehicle stop, the police must have reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime was, is , or is about to be committed. An observed civil motor vehicle infraction such as speeding or crossing marked lanes will supply the objectively reasonable basis to stop a motor vehicle.

If the police have a sufficient basis to stop a motor vehicle, the next question is what level of suspicion is required by the police to justify an exit order of the driver or occupants. Under Massachusetts law, if the police have a reasonable suspicion of danger to themselves or the public, or if the police have suspicion that the individual person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime, then an exit order may be appropriate.

Similarly, a thorough search of a motor vehicle will only be tolerated if there is probable cause to believe that the object forming the basis of the search will be found in the vehicle. For example, if the police stop a motor vehicle for speeding and then observe cocaine within the vehicle, the police may search the interior of the vehicle based on probable cause to believe more contraband will be found within the vehicle.

Finally, if the operator of the motor vehicle is arrested for any crime and the vehicle is ordered impounded, the police may search the vehicle pursuant to the departrment’s inventory policy, if such policy is clearly laid out in writing.

Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with a criminal offense is one of the most serious and life changing experiences anyone can face. The most important decision to be made at such a time is who to hire as a criminal defense attorney. When making your selection, here are a couple of thoughts to keep in mind.

First of all, just because someone has been around for many years, doesn’t mean that they are going to fight hard for or do the best job for you. Often times, younger attorneys are hungry to succeed and are going to fight the hardest on an individual case. As a result, it is important not to necessarily equate knowledge with age and years as a member of the bar.

Secondly, although many attorneys will claim that they will aggressively fight for you, and that they are experienced trial attorneys, don’t just focus on self-serving claims from those with obvious financial interests. Look at the cases the attorney has handled on their website, and see if those cases adequately reflect a variety of criminal matters, and not just limited exposure to criminal defense.

Finally, if you are in court, observe the proceedings and see if the attorneys in the room pass the eye test. Performance in the courtroom doesn’t lie, so if you see an attorney who handles him/herself in a manner that you think fits what you are looking for in a criminal defense attorney, that person is probably the attorney for you. As with anything else, you have to be comfortable with your attorney and your attorney has to believe in you and your case.For more information, contact criminal defense attorney Shane W. Surrette.

Negligent Motor Vehicle Operation, by Criminal Lawyer Surrette

Worcester City Bus Driver Involved in Pedestrian Fatality

There has been much discussion recently about a seventy year old city bus driver being involved in a pedestrian fatality last month in Worcester. Much has also been made of prior citations against the bus driver. The main issue in this matter, as with any case involving either negligent motor vehicle homicide, or negligent operation in general, is whether the Commonwealth can show that the operator of the vehicle drove in a manner that a reasonable person would not have, under the circumstances that the operator found himself, according to criminal lawyer Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA.

Many factors become relevant in any case involving either negligent operation of a motor vehicle or negligent motor vehicle homicide.  For instance, in determining whether someone drove negligently in a manner that might have endangered the public, a jury should take into account the facts of the situation, including the driver’s rate of speed and manner of operation, his/her physical condition, how well he/she could see and control the vehicle, as well as, what other vehicles and pedestrians were doing at the same time.

The factors mentioned above are just a few of the considerations that a jury will be instructed to consider in any criminal case involving either negligent operation of a motor vehicle, or negligent motor vehicle homicide under Massachusetts law. What is important to remember in any negligent operation case is that there has to enough evidence to satisfy a probable cause determination of negligence before a criminal charge will even be justified.

Search Warrants: A Breakdown by MA Criminal Defense Attorney

When the Police Come to Search the Home for Drugs

            When a search warrant for drugs is issued for the home under Massachusetts law, the police have no longer than seven days to conduct the search. In most instances the police will conduct the search either the same day that the warrant is issued, or the following day. When the police come to the home, you can be certain that they are going to search the entirety of the residence, according to criminal defense attorney Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA.

With this in mind, just because a search warrant is issued and the police find evidence of drugs and drug distribution, this doesn’t mean that the warrant was valid in the first place.  For instance, the warrant must state with particularity the exact premises to be searched, and if there are any ambiguities in the listing of the residence to be searched, any such discrepancy should be resolved in favor of evidence suppression.

Similarly, if the warrant is based on controlled buys by a confidential informant, the warrant affidavit and application must specify some of the informant’s basis of knowledge that drugs and distribution materials are in the residence, as well as the informant’s reliability. Basis of knowledge is typically shown where the informant can describe that he/she has been in the residence and has seen drugs and has purchased drugs in the residence.

Reliability of the informant is often shown by the informant’s track record of providing information that has led to charges and convictions in other cases. If, however, basis of knowledge and reliability are lacking in a particular case, the police may make up for any deficiencies with their own observations that corroborate an informant’s statements.

What is important when charged with a drug offense after the police execute a search warrant for the residence is not to panic, and to contact a Worcester Criminal Defense Attorney with experience handling drug offenses.

For more information, contact Attorney Surrette at the link below:

Assault & Battery Charges, by Worcester Criminal Defense Lawyer


Often times when someone is charged with a criminal assault and battery, the first question they ask is whether the Commonwealth will dismiss the case because the alleged victim doesn’t wish to pursue the charges. The answer to this question doesn’t begin and end with the desires of the alleged victim however, according to Worcester criminal defense lawyer Shane W. Surrette.

The Commonwealth will look past the desires of the alleged victim in many instances to see if there is any independent evidence to prove the charge. Such evidence might include, whether there were other witnesses to the allegations forming the basis of the charge/indictment, or whether there were statements made to law enforcement or private citizens that might qualify as statements within a recognized hearsay exception.

Also, the government will often look to whether or not the alleged victim received hospitalization and made statements to hospital personnel, or whether any purported injuries were photographed. Similarly, if the alleged victim doesn’t wish to pursue the charges, the Commonwealth will look to see if the complainant has a privilege not to testify in the underlying matter, which would prohibit the Commonwealth from forcing the alleged victim to testify.

The privileges most commonly encountered in assault and battery cases are the marital privilege and the privilege under the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution not to incriminate oneself. It is important to note when speaking of privilege law that there is no privilege not to testify for those cohabitating as a couple, but not married.

As a result, in an assault and battery case, the government will look at many factors and all the evidence they have in making a decision whether to prosecute. Just because the alleged victim wants the case dismissed doesn’t mean that it will be. So do the right thing and go into such a proceeding with a Worcester criminal defense lawyer.

To find out more information, contact attorney Surrette at the link below:

Possessing Drugs-by Criminal Defense Lawyer Shane W. Surrette

What Does it Mean to Possess Drugs Under the Law

Police will often bring drug possession charges without ever finding drugs on the person of the individual charged, according to criminal defense lawyer Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA.  This can result in confusion if you are faced with such a scenario.  The obvious initial reaction is how can they charge me with possession of drugs when I never actually physically possessed the drugs?

The answer to that question, however, is not as simple.

Possession under Massachusetts law doesn’t include just what you have in your pockets or in your wallet, but it also includes any item that you have knowledge of coupled with the ability and intent to exercise control over.  This means, for example, if you are driving a motor vehicle with a passenger in the front seat, and drugs are found in open view in the center console, an argument can be made that both you and the passenger possessed the drugs. 

Often times the police will charge both occupants of the vehicle with possession of the drugs in such circumstances, unless one individual claims ownership of the item(s).  Such a charge against both occupants can stand because joint possession of the same item is allowed under Massachusetts law.

While it may not seem fair for the government to proceed against someone on a theory of, “I can’t prove who actually physically possessed the item, so I will charge both because they both probably had knowledge of and some control of the item,” it is important to focus not on the unfairness, but on the strength of the government’s case.

For instance, even though the government has charged you with possession in the constructive sense, there may not be any additional evidence tying you to the drugs beyond your proximity.  This is not enough under the law, and as a result you should hire a Worcester Criminal Lawyer who will fight for you and who will scrutinize the Commonwealth’s case when they prosecute based on assumptions.

For more information, contact criminal defense lawyer Shane Surrette at the link below:

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