As I have often written, one does not always know either when there is a Massachusetts criminal investigation or even an arrest warrant in existence in one’s name. There are various ulterior motives out there by which potential witnessesare guided to give evidence against you.
And law enforcement tends to know all about them and how to use them. After all, it is one of the things of which prosecutions are made.
Let’s take the most common such motive–fear. We turn our collective heads a bit to the north to learn about William M., an 18-year-old (hereinafter, the “Witness”) of New Hampshire. The Witness’s lawyer has announced that he has struck a deal with prosecutors to testify against two companions who allegedly led a home invasion that resulted in the killing of a nurse and the maiming of her 11-year-old daughter at New Hampshire house.
The Witness has agreed to plead guilty to being an accomplice to first-degree assault, murder conspiracy, and burglary conspiracy, and faces 30 to 60 years in prison, according to his Massachusetts lawyer. In exchange for the Witness’ cooperation, prosecutors have dropped the most serious charge he faced, being an accomplice to first-degree murder, which carries a maximum penalty of life without parole.
The Witness is now the third young gentleman to strike such a deal with prosecutors in exchange for agreeing to testify against the two alleged ringleaders of this gruesome murder.
Too extreme a case to illustrate my point?
Ok, let’s look closer to home. Let’s take the town of Melrose, Massachusetts for example. Here, some high school students are facing some trouble that they may not have expected.
You see, law enforcement has become aware of, now, a second set of Facebook picture printouts depicting 37 Melrose High School students drinking and smoking marijuana that were sent to school and police officials in the past few weeks
John Ross, a school resource officer indicates that all of said students and their parents were contacted and met with Ross, who showed them the incriminating photos individually.
Although the school has strict drug and alcohol policies, especially for student athletes, the school left punitive action to the parents, said Patricia Ruggiero, Melrose High athletic director.
“We feel that this is an issue that the parents can work out with their child,” Ruggiero said, adding that Internet photos, which are easily manipulated, could not stand as sole evidence of wrongdoing.
Unfortunately, while the investigation of the first set of photos was still underway, police received the second set of Facebook printouts last week.
And so the local law enforcement has entered the picture.
“Those are the questions that will be asked of parents and guardians: Is this your basement? Is this your living room? Did you condone this in your house?” explained a police spokesman .
He added that the department may enact the Social Host law, which fines parents for underage drinking at their residence, whether or not they were aware of the illegal activities.
Criminal charges for everybody!
“These photographs can come back and haunt these kids,” he continued.
“And if not”, he failed to add, “we will put entries onto their criminal record that will“.
Attorney Sam’s Take:
Ok, before I start getting the reputation of being in favor of underage drinking, smoking pot and homicide, let me tell you that I am not.
By way of my tone, you can probably sense that I might have other suggestions for law enforcement and the politicians they serve, but that is for another day and another blog.
This blog, however, is about the criminal justice system and you.
The point is that criminal charges could be looming in your future whether or not you could ever see it coming.
Through the past couple of years together, we have watched as financial moguls, politicians, police officers, attorneys, doctors and kids have suddenly found themselves in the criminal justice spotlight. Some should have expected it; others could not have.
The NH murder defendants, if guilty, should have had some suspicion that this day could come. Perhaps they never thought that one of their co-perpetrators would or could make a deal to hammer a few more nails into their collective coffins.
But what of some kids who, not so uncommonly, were smoking some dope and drinking? Do you think that they imagined that they and their parents might soon be the subject of criminal complaints? Did the parents? Were they even aware that some genius put photos of the activity on the internet?
Whether or not we agree with the laws as they stand, we still must be wary. The younger amongst us may not believe that they would ever be so vulnerable, but parents and older friends know better.
Or should know better.
Best to have a plan so that, in the last minute crisis you are not scrambling to find an experienced criminal defense attorney. Should you wish to discuss a criminal case with me, please feel free to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.
For the original stories upon which today’s blog is based, please go to http://mobile.boston.com/art/30/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2010/09/22/teen_makes_deal_to_testify_in_killing_of_nurse_in_nh/ and http://mobile.boston.com/art/30/yourtown/melrose/articles/2010/09/22/police_get_more_photos_of_melrose_students_drinking/