The Search And Seizure Of Two Massachusetts Drug Suspects (Part Three)

For the last two days, the daily Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog looked at two recent matters wherein Massachusetts defendants were stopped by law enforcement in their vehicles, wherein drugs were found. During the investigations, sometimes more drugs were found at various locations…sometimes it was a href=””>weapons.

Rest assured that while the police and courts treat drug possession and gun possession very seriously…the combination is extremely eye-opening to them. It is the stuff that headlines are made of.

In any event, one last issue remains unexamined. In the Marblehead matter, additional material was found in the defendant’s home.

The question arises whether we are less protected in our homes or our automobiles from police invasion into our privacy in terms of search and siezure.

This is what today’s posting, ending this three-part-series will address.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

Under the law, there are fewer protections from law enforcement in an automobile than in a home. The legal theory is that there is a lower “expectation of privacy” in a car.

First of all, in most cases, one’s vehicle is not his/her “castle”. It may sound arcane, but the law assumes that one’s home is indeed one’s “castle”.

This is why tinted windows can be regulated and refused on your car…but you can have whatever shades you want (within reason) in your home.

There are other reasons, of course. First of all, most of the inside of the car is visible from the outside because of the surrounding relatively large windows. Second, one does not necessarily have the right to drive. It is a privilege which can be taken away or impacted by the government for a whole host of reasons. The late Jerry Williams, a local radio talk show host (considered by many to be the “Dean” of talk radio”) often decried how, increasingly, extra burdens were put on drivers simply for their right to drive. For example, there are a number of crimes for which one’s right to drive can be suspended or even lost. Some of them have nothing to do with the fine art of driving at all.

So, while there are protections from police intrusion in vehicles, there is also a lowered expectation of privacy.

Under the law, you have a great many protections in your home, which is why the police generally need a warrant to enter if you do not give your consent. As we discussed yesterday, there are exceptions, such as exigent circumstances and, of course, consent. However, without these exception, the police need a warrant.

Of course, you want to remember that police are also allowed to bully (to an extent) and lie in order to get statements, consent, etc.

Usually, if Detective Talktame comes a-knocking on your door asking to come in and talk with you, he is not likely to simply shrug his shoulders and fade into the moonlight if you say “No”. Expect a whole host of reasons why he thinks you should reconsider. However, there are often hidden meanings. For examples:

“I think it would be less embarrassing for you if the neighbors don’t see me knocking and you let me in”. Translation: “It’s likely to be less embarrassing to me if I get back to my office and have something to show for my visit”.

“We can do this here or back at the station” often means, “Let’s forget about the third alternative, being we don’t do this at all, shall we?”

“I am just trying to find out the truth here. Make it easy on me and I can make it easy on you” generally amounts to, “Just tell me what I want to hear and if I am really happy with it, I will put in a good word for you with the prosecutor who will be making the decisions, not me.”

I am not saying to never cooperate with law enforcement. As I have often said, the police are actually there to protect us and, for the most part, I really believe they do their best to do just that. However, this is a blog dealing with criminal justice issues from the viewpoint of a defense attorney who has seen the system from the inside from both sides.

However you handle the visitor with a badge, you are best advised to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney, particularly if it is clear that you are the one being investigated. Sometimes, it will not be clear that such is the case and you may simply be a witness. A defense attorney can help you find that out as well. In such matters, a good defense attorney is the paranoid mind that you never wanted to spend time with.

The difference in this instance, though, is that the paranoid mind is watching your back.

TOMORROW: On tomorrow’s weekly Attorney Sam’s Take, we will look at a murder trial unfolding in Brockton…and words from an angry defense attorney.

As always, if you are facing such a scenario and wish to discuss it with me, please feel free to contact me at 617-492-3000.

To find the original stories upon which this story is based, please go to and

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