Beth G., 23, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) simply got confused. It can happen when academic pressures mount up. After all, she had been inundated with the legal system of the United States. Now, due to said confusion, she is about to get a first-hand lesson on Boston Criminal Justice. It’s not a free lesson, mind you, because she will need to provide an attorney. It should be decent experience though.
You see, on August 30th, there was a party in Allston to which the police were dispatched. The neighbors were complaining about loud noise at approximately 3:53 a.m. One might assume that the party-goers, upon seeing the police presence, would have decided it was time for the party to end.
Not this time.
According to law enforcement, the officers were met with resistance. The party’s host and the resident, the Defendant, saw things differently. When asked to quiet the party-goers, the Defendant reportedly proclaimed, “I don’t have to do anything you say. I’m a law student.”
At that point, perhaps figuring that the Defendant must be right (she was, after all, a law student), two men (hereinafter, the “Rambunctious Duo”) approached the officers and told them that they were not going anywhere.
This time, it was the officers’ turn to disagree. They informed all three that they were now under arrest.
Clearly, there was a distinct disagreement between the parties.
The decision was apparently made to negotiate the disagreement through combat, and a clash reportedly began between the police and the Rambunctious Duo.
The police won the argument.
The Rambunctious Duo were charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on a police officer. The Defendant was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace.
Both officers suffered injuries to their backs, shoulders and arms, and went to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for further evaluation.
It was a long time ago that I went to law school…but I must have missed the day that they told us that we were immune from having to follow police direction upon entering law school.
In fact, as I have come to understand it, we don’t even get that super-power after becoming a member of the bar!
Seriously, though, for students and professionals alike, the opposite is actually true. There are things the police are and are not allowed to do. This is true. However, the general time to take issue with what they are doing is not in the field, but in the courtroom.
As we have discussed many times in this daily blog, to challenge law enforcement in the streets is a big mistake. The officers will not allow their authority to be questioned. They can’t, for many reasons.
Now, this does not mean that you must consent to everything they ask. You do have certain rights.
You have a right not to be questioned in most cases where you are the target. You have the right, in most cases, not to allow the police to search your home. You have a right not to take a breathalyzer test or do field sobriety tests if pulled over for drunk driving.
You do not have the right to tell the policeman off. You do not have the right to attack the officer. You do not have the right to refuse a lawful command, such as to quiet down a loud party in the wee hours of the morning.
Particularly after the Professor Gates fiasco months ago, we spoke about the charge of “disorderly conduct”. The fact is, it is a charge the police can bring in a variety of circumstances. It is almost a “catch all” type of crime..similar to “disturbing the peace”. Basically, if you are offensive to the police, you could be charged. Be assured that trying to out-challenge, out-run or out-fight the cops is considered offensive by them.
This is an issue that comes up often in the Boston area given the various college and graduate schools in the area. Parties happen. Sometimes, the student is under the belief that they are a bit more invulnerable to things like law enforcement than they should.
“But Sam,” what if we say we do not want to answer their questions or let them in, but they ignore us and insist?”
If the police ignore your lawful refusal about certain things, quietly obey and get an experienced criminal defense attorney involved in the case to sort it all out as soon as possible. The solution is not to slam the door in their face or just announce that you hope to be a professional someday.
If you have found yourself to be in a situation where you feel the police investigation has violated your rights and you are being investigated or charged with a crime, you may call me, if you wish, at 617-492-3000.
To view the article upon which today’s blog was based, go to: http://www.wickedlocal.com/allston/news/x724316211/Allston-Brighton-crime-Yes-Grossman-does-have-to-obey-the-police?popular=true