Angel R., 43, a former Springfield firefighter (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) has been having a bad time of it lately.
In July, he was arrested in connection with a fight with another gentleman.
Well, it allegedly involved alittle more than a simple fight; his fellow combatant, hereinafter referred to as “slashed”, ended up cut up through use of a box cutter. The Defendant was arrested for attempting to kill him.
The fight had taken place outside an apartment in Sixteen Acres on Allen Park Road. Slashed, who had been outside the home of his two children and their mother, had reportedly been slashed several times and still had a piece of blade lodged in his neck as it had broken off.
The Defendant was arrested and charged with assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and armed assault with intent to murder.
Police said that while in court, he apparently did or said something to violate the terms of his release and so a warrant was issued.
The Defendant was initially denied the right to bail, but in September, Judge Tina S. Page granted bail at $10,000 cash or $100,000 personal surety and stipulated that the Defendant was to have no contact with either Commonwealth witness, namely, Slashed and his children’s mother.
Apparently, the Defendant had also had a relationship with the children’s mother.
Do I see the form of a potential love triangle forming?
Well, whatever the reason, the court’s stipulation has allegedly proven too difficult for the Defendant to follow.
And so it was that, on Monday, the Defendant was held without bail for allegedly making contact with Commonwealth witnesses.
Assistant Hampden County District Attorney Elizabeth G. Dineen said the Defendant violated a number of his bail conditions, specifically that he was to have no contact with either Slashed or the former love interest of both men.
He was ordered held Monday pending continuation of his bail hearing Tuesday in Hampden Superior Court. The Commonwealth asked for the hearing to be continued until Tuesday so that the detectives could continue to probe apparent bail violations.
The Defendant’s lawyer, Vincent A. Bongiorni, said he would not oppose the holding of his client without right to bail until Tuesday, providing that he be held without prejudice. This basically means that it would not effect the final decision regarding bail at the end of the hearing.
Superior Court Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder was in agreement and the Defendant remained a guest of the Commonwealth last night.
The Defendant is no longer employed with the city Fire Department. He lost his job because of prolonged absence from duty since the July incident, said Fire Department spokesman Dennis G. Leger.
“Hey, she called me first!”
“I really thought that if we just talked about things…!”
” I just wanted to remind him that he also has a lot to lose if…”
These are just a few of the explanations clients have given me when I come to visit them inside Commonwealth housing. This conversation is often pending a hearing to revoke bail because they reached out to communicate with a Commonwealth witness in violation of a court order.
The right to bail is not absolute. The court can, and usually does, put conditions on it. If the court releases you on bail, or on your own recognizance, the merits of the underlying case becomes of secondary importance when your freedom is considered. Now, it depends on what you do while the case is pending.
If you do not show up on a court date, it is a violation of your bail conditions and your bail can be raised or revoked. If you get arrested on something else, your bail can either be raised or you can be held without bail for up to 60 days.
And, yes, if you disobey a court order, you can be held. If the court tells you to keep away from the other participants of the case, you ignore that ruling at your peril. It does not matter why. The violation is the violation and they take that type of thing quite seriously.
It is as if you were on probation. Violate probation and you can end up incarcerated. Same thing.
In most cases in which there is an alleged victim, it is commonplace for the court to order a defendant to stay away and not contact that victim or any Commonwealth witnesses. It has the same effect as any other restraining order. You violate it at your peril no matter the circumstances.
While the details of the Defendant’s alleged indiscretion are not known, he may also wind up facing additional criminal charges. Such charges usually center around a theory of intimidating a witness. Should that occur, there is now a second, and separate, criminal case now facing the accused. Yes, this can also trigger the 60 day remand without bail.
This is yet another reason why you need an experienced defense attorney to represent you in your criminal matters. You need to be warned about this and, if there is a message to get to the witness against you, it is crucial to have counsel to advise you as to the ground rules. For example, your attorney might be able to reach out to the witness…although not to intimidate, bribe or harass.
Once again, this is a scenario where “self help” does not work too well. Do not guess and risk your liberty. Commonwealth housing is probably not where you want to spend the holidays. Contact an experienced defense attorney instead.
Samuel Goldberg is the senior criminal defense attorney at the firm of Altman & Altman, LLP. A former prosecutor in New York, he has worked as a Boston defense attorney over 18 years. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network.
The full article of this story can be found at http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/11/exspringfield_firefighter_char.html