Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. 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. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

A BOSTON LAWYER CONTINUES TO DISCUSS THE SEARCH FOR AND SEIZURE OF DRUGS AND MONEY IN SALEM CAR STOP

Let’s continue with our story from last Thursday. It was the car stop about which we learned from the Salem News .

Although there is more to say about the stop itself, let’s look at what happened after the stop.

During the traffic stop, the detectives say that they observed wires, unusual wear on the console and plastic shavings on the SUV’s floor. That, along with the flashing brake lights, led them to conclude there was a hidden compartment in the SUV.

Many folks might be suspicious of this claim. However, when officers do this enough time, they tend to learn the “going scheme” in secreting things like drugs and other contraband.

An Everett police sergeant with experience in finding hidden compartments arrived and helped open what turned out to be a metal box under the dashboard, according police. Assisting in this part of the investigation was the Danvers Police K-9 unit which included the police dog Stryka. Stryka was the one who had indicated that there could be drugs near the front seat.

Inside the compartment, officers say that they found 20 small bags of heroin, totaling just under half an ounce (12.8 grams) worth approximately $1,300; 13 small bags of cocaine totaling 5.7 grams, worth approximately $500; and $3,479 in cash.

And so it was that the Defendant was charged with possession of both heroin and cocaine with intent to distribute, failing to stop for police, giving a false name, forging a motor vehicle document, refusing to identify himself and driving after license revocation.

This time around.

Police subsequently learned through a fingerprint database that the man they had arrested was the Defendant and not Lopez.

Court records revealed that the Defendant had been had been indicted in a Newburyport cocaine trafficking case in 2008, and was free on $25,000 bail when he failed to appear for a hearing on a motion to suppress evidence in the case in 2009.

That $25,000 was forfeited to the government, court records show. Thus, in addition to setting bail at $250,000 in the new case, Peabody District Court Judge James Barretto revoked the bail in the Superior Court case.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for November 15…which will likely be postponed as the case will likely be indicted.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Search, Seizure And Suppression

It is ironic that the Defendant allegedly defaulted when his previous case up scheduled for a suppression hearing. In the new case, at least, the real battle ground is going to be the issue of suppression as well.

“Sam, is that the only possible defense in this case?”

No, but it is the best bet. Because the contraband was found in a hidden location in the car, the Defendant might claim that he did not know about it. The ownership of the car will be an important issue in the case, of course. Assuming the car does not belong to the Defendant, the Commonwealth’s position will be that nobody would have simply loaned a car with that valuable a stash hidden within to someone unless that someone was involved in the drug conspiracy.

“Are the suppression issues limited to what we discussed last week?”

No. We now have more, although we will return to those later.

Assuming the Commonwealth can get past the stopping of the car, the police activity did not end there.

Somehow, the police have to justify getting into the car to find the hidden compartment.

There are a few arguments available to them to justify the police further intrusion.

“Well, the fact that the Defendant was wanted helps them, right?”

No. In fact, it is totally irrelevant to this issue.  Remember, they did not realize that until they checked the fingerprint database. That would have been back at the station, well after the Defendant was arrested.

We will finish this story and its various suppression issues next week. early next week as opposed to this week.

In the meantime, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

 

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