Massachusetts Court Reviews Alleged Cross-Examination “By Innuendo” of Defendant and Others in Illegal Gun Possession Case

A person who has been accused of committing a crime has the right to remain silent. As any Cape Cod criminal defense attorney can tell you, exercising this right is vitally important.

This is because, as we’ve all heard on television and in the movies, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Far too often, individuals waive this right, and their own words are used later to convict them.

Facts of the Case

In a case recently considered by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the defendant was arrested and charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a loaded firearm in violation of Massachusetts General Laws ch. 269, § 10(a), (n) after he was found sitting in a parking lot with a revolver and a semiautomatic pistol in the vicinity of his truck. At trial, the defendant was convicted as charged. He appealed.

Decision of the Appeals Court

The court of appeals affirmed the defendant’s conviction. The court described the basic issue as whether the rule prohibiting cross-examination “by innuendo,” particularly as enunciated in a previous case decided by the court in 2014, applied to the defendant’s trial. There were three defense witnesses whose testimony was potentially affected by the rule:  an expert witness, a lay witness, and the defendant.

After reviewing the particular circumstances of the case, the court ruled that the prosecuting attorney’s cross-examination of the defendant was proper, that the cross-examination of the lay witness was improper but was not prejudicial, and that the 2014 case did not apply to the cross-examination of expert witnesses. The court also found that the defendant’s waiver of his Miranda rights was voluntary, as were certain statements that he made to police on the night of his arrest.

In the previous case, it was held to be an error to permit an attorney, through cross-examination, to communicate an impression, by innuendo, that he or she possessed as yet undisclosed information without a good-faith basis for doing so. Although the defendant argued that the rule should be applied to the prosecutor’s cross-examination of his defense expert, the court was unpersuaded. Instead, the court noted that the rules governing expert testimony permitted the opposing party substantial leeway to confront an expert regarding the materials upon which the expert relied in formulating his or her professional opinion.

Hire an Experienced Cape Cod Defense Lawyer

If you have been accused of a crime, whether you have already been arrested or have just learned that you are under investigation, you need to speak to a knowledgeable Cape Cod criminal defense attorney. The United States Constitution guarantees the criminally accused the right to counsel, and it is advisable that this right be exercised as early in the process as possible. The Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, is here to help you defend yourself to the fullest extent of the law. Call us at 888-262-6664 for an appointment to get started on your defense.

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