The “wild west” has long been associated with images of folks making their own rules and bravely trying to tame the frontier. It would appear that two Western Massachusetts gentlemen had similar attitudes…although, according to the police, their actions would be more aligned with untaming than taming the area.
Let’s start with this past Friday in Springfield. 30-year old Ricardo M., (hereinafter, “Defendant”) was observed by police officers while allegedly ducking down inside a car near 86 Maple Street. When simply nestling under the dashboard did not work, he decided to jump out of the car and lead the police on a foot chase. This, however, did not make his situation dire enough, so he took the extra alleged step of breaking into an elderly woman’s apartment to hide.
She screamed. Police came. He was arrested.
Winning second place in the race, Defendant was awarded the runner-up prize, namely, charges of receiving a stolen motor vehicle (the ignition was found “popped” upon further investigation), breaking and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony, possession of burglarious tools, driving with a suspended license, two counts of assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest. Oh yes, and a prize he had previously won, but never claimed – reunion with an outstanding parole warrant.
And so the Wild West Weekend began.
The Saturday Criminal Justice Races were held in Leominster. This race track did not include anyone’s apartment, but did include railroad tracks and all four lanes of Route 2.
The cause – at – issue for this life-threatening contest were charges for shoplifting videogames from a nearby shopping center.
Not surprisingly, the police won this race too. The runner-up prize was, once again, the Commonwealth’s bracelets of shame and additional criminal charges.
Sunday’s racing results have not yet been reported…or, at least, read.
Perhaps I have not been clear enough in these daily blogs; that may well be the problem. Attorneys are supposed to be clear and try their best to make sure they are understood in these apparently complex and mysterious matters. Let me approach this way:
IF THE POLICE ARE SEEKING TO QUESTION OR DETAIN YOU, DO NOT RUN, HIDE, DRIVE, CRAWL, PUSH, SHOVE, ROLL OR ATTEMPT TO FLY AWAY. IT WILL ONLY MAKE MATTERS WORSE AND, OFTEN, BRING TO LIGHT THINGS THEY NEVER EVEN SUSPECTED!
If you have been apprehended or simply approached by the police…whether you are guilty of what you suspect their concerns are or not…engaging them in the Olympian way is not going to work. At best, you will win the runner-up prize of additional criminal charges. At worst, you could lose your life. You will certainly be further risking your liberty.
Nobody wants to be facing charges for receiving stolen property, violating parole or probation, shoplifting or the like. However, adding charges for resisting arrest, breaking and entering, assault and battery on a police officer and the like is hardly a profitable solution. It is, simply speaking, making a bad situation much worse.
“Self help” seldom works in the Criminal Justice system…especially for defendants. The way to minimize damage and help yourself is to comply with the officers and close your mouth until you get an experienced attorney to assist you. That’s right, no matter how golden a tongue you might feel you have, attempting to out-smart the officers to convince them why they should simply let you go will not work either. You will only give them more ammunition to use against you. That’s part of the reason for those Miranda Rights you’ve heard so much about.
I have been dealing with the myriad of cases the Criminal Justice system brings in for over twenty years. In the 1980’s, I was a prosecutor in two different states. Since the 1990’s, I have been a Boston criminal defense attorney handling cases in courts throughout Massachusetts. I cannot tell you how many cases I have handled in which, if the defendant simply was quiet and respectful to the police, the case could have ended early on with little to no damage but, because of a failed attempt to outsmart or outrun the police, the defendant was held in custody and faced heavier charges.
By the way, not only does trying to escape not work and bring additional charges, it also hurts you at trial. There is a doctrine called “Consciousness of Guilt” which prosecutors love to argue before judges and juries. The argument is that a person running to escape the police is evidence that they have a reason to do so…also known as guilt of what is being investigated.
To sum up, trying to run away from law enforcement is the anti-gift that keeps on “giving”. Get an experienced attorney with whom you are comfortable to help you deal with your problems in the trenches. The bottom line is that, without one, you are unarmed in the streets and the courtroom when dealing with these issues.
NOTE: The daily blog will not be so daily this week, I’m afraid. I will be unable to post on Tuesday and Wednesday due to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. However, I will be back and posting on Thursday.
Samuel Goldberg is the senior defense attorney at the firm of Altman & Altman, P.C. A former prosecutor in New York, he has worked as a defense attorney in Boston over 18 years. He frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network
The full articles of these stories can be found at
http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/09/springfield_police_arrest_susp_6.html and http://www.telegram.com/article/20080928/DIGESTS/809280397/1005/NEWS06