Hey, remember the old days when a person actually did not have to talk to the police if he did not want to? Those were the days when we had the right to remain silent and…wait a minute. That’s today. So, now I am confused. Why is someone in the Boston area in need of a criminal defense attorney because of his dealings with the police?
I mean, if you can refuse to talk to the police officers, you can lie alittle to protect yourself, can’t you? After all, the law is clear that the police are allowed to lie to non-police types. Fair is fair, right?
Uhh….no. Actually, that would be a felony.
It is a lesson that a co-owner of a Boston nightclub, Shawn D. 29, of Billerica (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) is learning. He has been indicted for allegedly destroying evidence and lying to Boston police as they investigated a shooting outside his nightclub on New Year’s Day.
Now, I’ll bet you always thought that the elements of the crime of “Intimidating a Witness” were contacting a witness and then…well….intimidating them.
Well, that is one way of getting the charge. However, it is only one.
The Defendant is facing the halls of justice because of allegations that he tried to mislead the police investigation. For example, part of the charge is because he is said to have lied to police. You see, this investigation had to do with a shooting. The Defendant allegedly told the police that he did not know the suspect in that matter. He is also charged with causing a photographer to destroy photographs that showed him standing with the suspect shortly before the shooting.
The District Attorney of Suffolk County has pronounced that, “There’s no reason a legitimate businessman would try to thwart an investigation like that…Club owners should take notice of this case – we won’t punish you for someone else’s crime, but if you try to cover it up or mislead investigators, then we’re coming down on you hard.”
“Wait a minute”, you are thinking. “I thought we had the right to associate with whoever we wanted to and that guilt by association was not allowed.”
“Well, yeah,”, I suppose District Attorney Connolly would argue, ” But that doesn’t mean that you get to lie about it.”
Perhaps you are figuring that the relationship between the Defendant and the shooting suspect was a critical element of the assault with a dangerous weapon. That must be why those pictures were so important, right? Must have placed the suspect at the scene or something.
Well, of course, there was that external surveillance camera that had recorded the suspect entering the nightclub and later as he fired his handgun down High Street.
“Well, Sam”, you tell me, “Shooting someone is a dangerous crime. I guess the police did not like the fact that the Defendant’s lies prevented their making a case against that shooter.”
Unfortunately, that is not the case either. Based on other evidence, presumably including the afore-mentioned video-tape, the suspect was arrested on January 29th and that cases are pending and were already pending at the time of the indictment of the Defendant for trying to hide that he knew the shooting suspect already in custody.
“Well, they may have indicted him….but he can’t be facing too great a sentence for simply trying to hide the fact that he knew the suspect.
Nah. Only if you find 20 years in state prison to be much of a sentence.
The Defendant is scheduled to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court in August.
Attorney Sam’s Take:
The Defendant is at least in good hands. He is represented by Attorney Roger Witkin who was one of my mentors. He is an experienced and fearless attorney.
One’s dealings with law enforcement are not examined on a level playing field. While the police are legally allowed to lie to suspects and the rest of us, we are not allowed to return the favor. While there is no law that says you must talk to the police, if you do, you have to be honest.
To hear that there exist criminal charges for things such as falsifying police reports, bringing false allegations and lying under oath (perjury), many people do not realize that lying to the police, or things like destroying pictures as in today’s story, is illegal.
The statute defining the crime of witness intimidation has been changed to include misleading the police. Running from the police is often resisting arrest. Being rude to the police sometimes brings about an altercation that ends up as an assault and battery on a police officer.
So, we are back to the same old advice. If you are being investigated, charged or an investigation is getting to close to “home”, you do not want to lie to the officers, argue with the officers, fight the officer or run from the officers.
Politely explain that you wish to talk with them, but you have to call your lawyer first because you have heard too many horror stories about criminal investigations.
Don’t worry…they’ll understand.
For the full articles concerning today’s posting of the Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/07/14/boston_nightclub_owner_accused_of_lying_to_police_after_shooting/ and http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1184637