View Our Practice Areas

Worcester Criminal Defense Law Blog

Don’t be too quick to trust your breathalyzer test results.

You have a couple beers with some colleagues one night after work. On your way home, a police officer pulls you over and conducts a breathalyzer test, which you fail. While you might be shocked that just two beers over the course of an evening was enough to put you over the legal limit, you might not question the results. After all, what’s a judge likely to believe in court: your personal perception of your level of impairment, or quantitative evidence?

When it comes to blood alcohol content, it’s easy to assume that numbers don’t lie. However, it’s worth remembering that breathalyzer equipment was designed by humans and is therefore subject to human error. Recent research indicates that we shouldn’t be too quick to trust these machines.

Cross-racial identification still a problem in the courts

Defending clients facing criminal charges requires a skilled attorney who is both educated in the law and also knows their way around a courtroom by working with the judge and jury. This combination of knowledge and experience is particularly on display with a lawyer who must protect clients from the incorrect or false identification.

A recent article in the American Bar Association illustrates this point using an episode of television’s The Office as an example. The plot of the episode was that coworkers couldn’t remember if the character Stanley played by African-American actor Leslie David Baker had a moustache or was clean-shaven. The outcome was that he did have a moustache, but the other characters were split 50-50 on remembering that he did have one, and had it for the entire run of the series.

DNA evidence is not always accurate

One of the biggest advances in forensic science is the use of DNA to solve crimes. Just a few decades ago, DNA technology was crude and simplistic, requiring large samples and taking a long time and a lot of money to process. Today, DNA technology is much more sophisticated and is used in millions of criminal cases every year. Its use has even been popularized in TV shows and movies.

But DNA is not infallible. In some cases, it can even falsely implicate innocent people. One recent case shows just how inaccurate DNA evidence can be when it comes to criminal cases.

Why your attorney should take OUI charges seriously

There is no question that the suffering and loss caused by drunk driving accidents is a heartache no family should have to endure. To this end, over the past decades, lawmakers have heard the voices of organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and tightened laws for alcohol-related driving offenses.

If you have recently been arrested for operating under the influence, you understand that you face the potential for harsh penalties if a court convicts you. Like many, you may have some misconceptions about OUI charges that could cause you to make ill-advised decisions about your case. Understanding your chances if you fight the charges may give you a better idea of your options.

Some tests by law enforcement may be optional in an OUI stop

Nothing can ruin a workday or weekend quite like seeing a patrol car's flashing lights in your rear view mirror, bringing on the realization that a Massachusetts police officer is pulling you over in a traffic stop. In situations like this, it's not uncommon for various thoughts to begin scrolling through your mind, such as whether or not you remembered to fix that broken tail light, what speed you were traveling when you first noticed the lights and whether the officer will simply issue a warning, then release you.

Sometimes, that's the way it goes. Then again, if the situation doesn't unfold the way you expected, not only might your day be ruined, your entire future could change on a dime. If the police officer asks you if you've been drinking, the next words out of your mouth and anything you say or do after that can impact the ultimate outcome of your situation. In fact, your own behavior may lead to your arrest.

Private citizens can now own stun guns in Massachusetts

Tasers and other types of stun guns have become very controversial. Some people view them as weapons that private citizens should be able to own under the Second Amendment. Law enforcement officials say that they require tasers to subdue suspects. Many others oppose tasers, saying that they are dangerous and are frequently misused by the police.

Until last week, Massachusetts law allowed police officers to carry stun guns, but completely banned civilians from owning them. A new ruling from the Massachusetts Supreme Court has overturned the private-ownership ban. The court has ruled that the state may regulate, but not forbid, stun guns and Tasers.

Civil forfeiture: Are police allowed to confiscate my cash?

What is civil forfeiture?

This policy is called civil forfeiture. Civil forfeiture allows Massachusetts police to confiscate private property -- including personal items, cash and other valuables -- from suspects. What's more, police can keep the confiscated property indefinitely -- even if the suspect is released or is never charged with a crime. Police officers need only meet the standard of probable cause to permanently confiscate private property. Once the police have seized the property, the burden of proof falls on citizens to convince law enforcement of their innocence before reclaiming their confiscated assets.

The program has been incredibly controversial. While law enforcement claims that it is often necessary to confiscate private property when investigating a crime, many people fear that it violates Bay-Staters' civil rights. Many people feel that civil forfeiture goes against the Fourth Amendment, which protects American citizens form unreasonable search and seizure, and the Eighth Amendment, which bans excessive fines

Civil forfeiture and your rights

The U.S. Supreme Court may soon hear a prominent civil forfeiture case out of Indiana. Until then, the controversial program remains legal in Massachusetts and several other states. Civil forfeiture is meant to help police officers solve and prosecute crime, but the policy is sometimes misused. This does not mean that suspects are without rights. Anyone who has been subject to civil forfeiture does have legal options available to them. Sometimes, it is necessary to take legal action to recover private property that has been confiscated.

Massachusetts to overhaul criminal justice system

For years, critics of the Massachusetts criminal justice system have claimed that it it too punitive, focusing on harsh consequences rather than rehabilitating offenders. Others stated that it was racist, imposing stricter penalties on people of color than Caucasians. But a new bill has passed that will take aim at both of these criticisms and will address many other controversial issues in the system.

After a months-long negotiation process, a bipartisan effort to reform Massachusetts' criminal justice system passed the State Legislature last week. The proposal passed in the House with a vote of 148-5 and the Senate with a vote of 37-0. Several aspects of the justice system will be revised, including the sentencing and rehabilitation of inmates.

Graffiti: Art, or vandalism?

Graffiti was once an underground form of illegal street art. Over the years, though, it has become more and more popular. Elements of graffiti have been incorporated into commercial and highbrow art, clothing design and popular media.

This form of painting can be a polarizing topic. Some people consider graffiti an artistic form of self-expression. The law, however, consider it vandalism. Despite graffiti's popularity in both the underground and the mainstream, it can still be penalized as a crime..

Domestic violence hearings: What to expect, how to prepare

Going to court can be intimidating, especially if your court date involves domestic violence allegations. Most people only know about courtroom proceedings from movies or television. This leaves room for a lot of misconceptions. Your hearing will run much more smoothly if you have an idea of what to expect and how to prepare.

What should I expect?

You Have Questions? We Have Answers.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Email Us For A Response

Anthony M. Salerno, P.C.
306 Main St.
Worcester, MA 01608

Phone: 508-795-1200
Fax: 508-795-1333
Map

Connect With Us