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SJC addresses Search and Seizure Law in connection with Human Trafficking Investigation.

In Commonwealth v. Barbosa, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed the lower court’s ruling on a Motion to Suppress holding that a room key to a hotel room being used for a human trafficking operation is immediately apparent as evidence of other criminality, when retrieved from a defendant’s person in a search incident to arrest for assault and battery on a police officer during a human trafficking sting.

The Court determined that the officers had “ample evidence of the defendant’s involvement in the separate criminal activity of human trafficking” to justify their inquiry about the hotel room key. The Court distinguishes these circumstances from those set forth in Commonwealth v. Blevines, in which a defendant was arrested for drinking in public, and officers subsequently used keys found on his person to locate and enter into a motor vehicle that contained evidence consistent with drug distribution. In Blevines, the Court held that there was no evidence of independent criminal activity to justify the use of the defendant’s keys for investigatory purposes.

In Barbosa, the Court held that the defendant made a knowing waiver of his Miranda rights. He had previously told the officers he wanted to speak to a lawyer, but answered their subsequent question as to which room the key belonged – confirming his involvement in the human trafficking operation.

Constitutional concerns involving search and seizure as well as Miranda warnings are extremely important issues in almost every criminal case. If you or someone you know is charged with any type of crime, it is important to have an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney who understands the complexities of this area of law. A favorable ruling on a motion to exclude such evidence often leads to a favorable resolution of the case. The criminal defense lawyers at Roncone Law Offices, P.C. have extensive experience representing parties charged with crimes throughout Worcester County and Massachusetts.


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