The Brockton Enterprise reports on an arrest of a man yesterday in Raynham, Massachusetts. The man was arrested for allegedly having a hoax bomb device in his possession.
Apparently the trouble for the man all started when police thought he was a “suspicious person” because he was sitting in parked motor vehicle outside of a condominium complex at 3:30am. Police claim that when they approached the man’s car they could see items commonly used in the manufacturing of pipe bombs in plain view. The article is unclear as to what happened next, but according police, some “further investigation” was conducted and the man was arrested for possession of a hoax device as well as disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.
Although the article is short on details, this case certainly looks like there are host of potential defenses for the man. First and foremost a challenge may be in order to the search police conducted of the man’s car. The article states the police considered the man a “suspicious person”, but offers no details as to why police thought he was suspicious. In order for the police search of the man’s car to be upheld by the court, prosecutors will need to show more than the fact that he was sitting in a car in a parking lot at 3:30am.
The police claim that the man had items commonly used in the manufacturing of pipe bombs in plain view when they approached him. More information is needed to determine if those observations will stand up under court scrutiny. Pipe bombs are by nature improvised explosive devices. They are constructed using piping that would be available to any contracter, or even any homeowner who is engaged in do it yourself home improvement. If the “items commonly used in the manufacturing of pipe bombs” turns out to be nothing more than ordinary household or commercial piping the search of the man’s vehicle may be declared unconstitutional, and any evidence resulting from the search could be thrown out.
Even if prosecutors are able to prevent suppression of the evidence they may have additional problems in proving a case against the man. The “hoax device” law that is being used to charge the man is Massachusetts General Laws chapter 266 section 102. The statute makes it clear that possession of a hoax device is a serious offense. The charge is a felony, and if convicted, a defendant can be sentenced to a maximum of 5 years in state prison.
The statute also makes it clear that in order to convict a defendant under this section the prosecutor must prove not only that a person possessed a hoax device, but that he or she possessed it with the intent the device will “be used to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort to any person or group of persons”. In order for prosecutors to prove that the man is guilty they will need to show that he intended to use the item in his possession to scare others or cause alarm to a specific person. Since the article indicates the items found were inside the man’s car, and he did not appear to be attempting to use them in any fashion, unless there is additional evidence not published in the article, it will be difficult for prosecutors to show he intended to do anything with the items police believed were a hoax device.
As a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer I have defended people all across the Commonwealth on various felony and misdemeanor charges. I offer a free consultation to all potential clients. At your free consultation you will have the opportunity to discuss the charges against you in detail, as well as have an experienced Massachusetts criminal lawyer outline your potential defenses. I will review all of your court documents and map out potential strategies to fight your case. At your free consultation there is never any high pressure sales tactics, or obligation to hire me. At your consultation I will quote you a price, and you are guaranteed to never pay more than the quote at your initial consultation. Call today at (508) 762-4540 or contact me using the form on this website.