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Dismissed - Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle

January 2020

Our Client was charged with being in possession of a stolen motor vehicle in Massachusetts, which is a felony. Our client was stopped while driving the alleged stolen car. Our client told the police they bought it from a friend. Our client had the title to the car but did not have a bill of sale. 

We filed a Motion to Dismiss initially and argued there was no probable cause to show that our client knew the car was stolen, an essential element of the charge. Although the judge ruled there was probable cause, he told the prosecutor they would have a difficult case to prove at trial. 

In our Motion we argued some case law. For instance, mere presence in a stolen vehicle is insufficient to support an inference of knowledge that the vehicle was stolen. Commonwealth v. Johnson, 6 Mass. App. Ct. 956, 957 (1978). See also Commonwealth v. Boone, 356 Mass. 85, 87 (1969); Commonwealth v. Johnson, 7 Mass. App. Ct. 191, 193 (1979); Commonwealth v. Conway, 2 Mass. App. Ct. 547, 554 (1974). The prosecution would need “presence supplemented by other incriminating evidence will serve to tip the scales.” Id. We argued there was no other incriminating evidence here. 

We decided to set the case down for trial. At trial the prosecution had to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, rather than have a showing of probable cause (a much lower standard). At trial, the prosecution did not have the evidence to proceed with the case to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt and, as a result, the case was dismissed. 

Practice area(s): Criminal Defense

David Ellison

David Ellison, Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Lawyer in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, is an aggressive, honest & affordable attorney. 

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