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Well, well – here we are:  Black Friday, that ignominious day in the American calendar when otherwise (and I use this term liberally) “normal” people, turn into openly aggressive, violent, even maniacal individuals – all in the name of scoring a few less dollars on the latest wide screen TV or pair of sneakers.  To quote an aphorism that has become quite true, “Because only in America, do people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” How bad is this problem?  In just the past eight years, from 2006 to 2014, the total death count involving Black Friday shopping incidents has reached seven deaths.    Visually, try to think of being in a cemetery and seeing seven gravestones, each reading “Killed in a store by other shoppers the day after Thanksgiving.”   Two of those deaths were the result of people actually being “trampled” by aggressive shoppers. Two more were shooting deaths, and the remaining fatalities were due car crashes that were directly related to Black Friday shopping. Continue reading

More and more these days, I get calls from people who want me to assist them in obtaining a Massachusetts firearms license (gun permit,) or to represent them in an appeal of a permit denial they have received.  Importantly, these aren’t people who have been accused of committing any crimes – they’re law-abiding citizens who want to legally carry a gun.  Even more striking, the vast majority of these people have never carried any kind of firearm before.

Some who are reading this post this might think these people are suspicious types – ne’er do wells, uneducated people, or hunters.  As a Massachusetts gun license lawyer, I can assure anyone:  They’re not.  In fact, the vast majority of them are educated, working people who never before though that they’d ever want to own a gun – but now they want to.  What drives them to want this?  Continue reading

In my previous post on this topic, I wrote about how prosecutors in Massachusetts must prove that any allegedly illegal substances that the Commonwealth accuses a defendant of possessing, using, or distributing, have actually been tested by a qualified chemist in the state drug lab, and that the substance is indeed either a controlled substance or an illegal drug.   That’s the first, threshold legal issue in any Massachusetts drug offenses prosecution.  Continue reading

When what you do in your profession involves defending as legal counsel people who have been charged with some very serious crimes, a common question is “How can you defend people who have been accused of such serious crimes?”  My answer, as a Wrentham  Mass. criminal defense attorney, is always the same:  “Because they may be legally innocent.”

Drug crimes are an area that many people misunderstand – or perhaps more accurately, mis-context.  They often assume that anyone charged with a Massachusetts drug offense must be some kind of drug-crazed criminal, or the local version of something like a ‘drug lord.’  Hardly.  In fact, the truth is almost anything but this. Some examples?   Being found by police to be carrying a controlled substance without a prescription on your person.  This could happen while traveling through Logan Airport, or even if stopped in your car by police.   Or providing any of your prescription pain medication to another person because they were in pain and couldn’t locate or get an appointment with their own doctor right away.  Or selling or buying more than an ounce of marijuana to another (yes, pot.)  Or a student who gives some of his or her Ritalin prescription to a friend in advance of exams.  The list goes on and on.  As a Massachusetts drug charges lawyer, I can say with certainty that 85%-90% of my Massachusetts drug charges clients are definitely not dangerous drug criminals. Continue reading

The Massachusetts SJC just issued a very controversial ruling in reviewing a criminal case that, as a Boston criminal defense lawyer, most people would expect me to agree with wholeheartedly.  I don’t.  My views aren’t going to win me much agreement with my colleagues in the criminal defense bar, but I just can’t support this finding.

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In my previous post on this subject, I wrote about how bad the incidence of texting and driving has become– as well as cell phone use when driving – in Massachusetts and New England.  Here I’ll discuss what’s being done in other states, and what might be done here to more aggressively tackle this change-resistant problem.

Presently, forty-six states in the U.S. have enacted laws against texting while driving.  Almost all of those states also prohibit sending or reading email, or otherwise using the phone.   Unfortunately, in Florida, texting is a secondary offense, which means that even if a police officer sees a driver texting, the officer can’t stop that driver unless another violation is observed, such as speeding. Continue reading

So many times when driving around, I ask myself, ”What is wrong with people these days?  Are they just plain stupid, homicidal or suicidal?”  I’m referring, of course, to the widespread and outrageously growing habit of texting while driving.

On a clinical level of mental health, I wonder what new, modern mental illness will soon be named to describe people who do this.  “Subconsciously suicidal ideation?”  “Pre-homicidal aggression?”  Or how about calling a spade a spade, and just calling it for what it is:  Idiotic.  Truly, as a Boston car accident lawyer, I have seen an alarming spike in the number of serious Massachusetts motor vehicle accident injuries that have been cause by people texting and driving – or talking on their cell phones while driving. It’s almost unfathomable that drivers would risk their own lives, their families’ lives, and the lives of others, to read a ridiculous text message, or answer a phone call. Continue reading

As everyone knows, self-serve checkout stations at supermarkets continues to grow exponentially, even at retail store outlets that aren’t purely supermarkets like Stop & Shop, Star Markets or Shaw’s.  Personally, I don’t like them as I find them too impersonal, and their expansion will continue to cut jobs in that industry.  But the companies that own these store chains can cut a lot of labor costs – and that’s their goal, for good or ill.

On the “ill” side of things, though, this technology has brought about an increase in crime – specifically, shoplifting charges.   More than one study has determined that the increased use of self-service checkouts correlates with an increase in revenue losses.  One such wide-ranging study of retailers in the U.S., Britain and other European countries found that use of this technology produced an average revenue loss rate of 4 percent of gross sales.  Since the profit margin of most supermarket retailers hovers around 3 percent, that almost makes use of self-service checkouts counter-productive from an earning standpoint. Continue reading

No, the title of this post is not some Republican campaign slogan, and it’s not a joke, either.

Barack Obama’s Drug Enforcement administration (DEA) today issued its final decision that marijuana is to remain on the federal government’s list of the most highly dangerous and regulated drugs, the Associated Press reported today.   The decision followed a petition by the governors of Washington state and Rhode Island to reclassify pot into a far less severe category.  Note:  That petition by the governors of the above states was filed at the DEA in 2011 – yes, it has taken the DEA five years to arrive at not only any decision in this matter, but the most scientifically and socially unsupported decision possible.  This is your tax dollars at work: Stonewalling, inefficiency, foot dragging.

So why would the federal government take five years to reach this insulting and unsupportable decision?  Two words:  Politics and money – inseparable bedfellows.  You see, controlled substances (regulated drugs) are classified by the DEA into five different “schedules” – from the most dangerous drugs that the federal government has declared have no medicinal value (“Schedule 1”,) to the least dangerous drugs that the DEA has declared do have medicinal value (“Schedule 5”.)  Example:  Heroin is classified as a Schedule 1 drug.  Care to know where marijuana has been classified, for over 70 years?  Correct:  Schedule 1 – along with the likes of heroin – and extremely dangerous drug, with extremely high addiction potential.

In my previous post on this subject, I discussed how the Massachusetts Legislature is debating on whether to change the current OUI/DUI law in Massachusetts – known As “Melanie’s Law” for the young girl who was killed by a repeat drunk driver.  The change now being vigorously argued over would require Ignition Interlock Devices (IID’s) to be mandatory for anyone convicted or pleading guilty to a first offense OUI. Currently, Massachusetts law requires IID’s to be installed for persons convicted of Operating Under the Influence for a second offense and higher.

As a Massachusetts DUI attorney, even though on a professional level I fight zealously in representing my clients as their legal counsel, on personal level I abhor the idea of driving while intoxicated.  Who doesn’t?  I don’t want myself or the people I love injured or killed by a drunk driver.  But I’m a criminal defense attorney, and I know the dangers of trying to solve a public policy problem by wiping out important legal rights that our Constitution guarantees us all. Continue reading