A 24-year-old Natick man was charged Monday with multiple counts of breaking and entering in the daytime and larceny from a building in Framingham District Court, MetroWest Daily News reported.
Police arrested the man after a Natick officer, off-duty at the time, allegedly saw him depositing a large amount of change into a coin machine at a local grocery store. The officer took notice of this because police had been investigating a recent break-in, one in a series, during which $700-$900 in change had been stolen from the residence. Police allege that the man also took jewelry, cash, prescription drugs, and a baby stroller from the same residence. He allegedly used the stroller to wheel the coins to the grocery store. The prosecution alleges that the man confessed to the break-ins, admitting that he bought cocaine and heroin with the money.
Based on the reported facts, the man might have some solid grounds for motions to suppress both the evidence and statements. It seems that police seized the man based on his possession of a large quantity of coins. A seizure is illegal unless police have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. There is nothing criminal about depositing a large amount of change into a coin machine. There is no indication that the man was known to police or that he matched any description of a suspect. There is no indication that the officer recognized the stroller used to transport the coins. Simply having money, even an unusually large amount of it, without more is not enough to support a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
If the initial seizure of the man was illegal, then his alleged statements admitting to the break-ins might be so-called “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” rule, direct and indirect products of an illegal search or seizure must be suppressed from use. The reasoning is essentially that the first illegality taints that which comes next. It applies to verbal evidence as well as physical evidence. Here, if police illegally seized the man based on nothing more than his possession of the coins, the man might argue that subsequent statements were tainted by that initial illegality.
This story illustrates the importance of speaking with an experienced criminal defense lawyer before giving any statements to police. The government claims that the coins and stroller link the man to one particular break-in. There is no apparent connection, apart from his alleged statement to police, between the man and the other six break-ins, and there might not have been probable cause to charge him in connection with them had he not allegedly confessed.
If you would like to speak with an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, call me, Daniel J. Cappetta, at (508) 762-4540 or send an e-mail today. I aggressively defend the criminally accused in Framingham District Court and courts throughout Massachusetts. My Framingham-based office is committed to excellence in criminal practice. Initial consultations are free and confidential, and I am available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.