A Legal Analysis Of The Relationship Between Standing And The Expectation of Privacy In The Context Of A Motion To Suppress
One of the most valuable tools that an aggressive and successful defense attorney has in his or her arsenal is the motion to suppress evidence. Whether a case is in the Lowell District Court, Peabody District Court or Lawrence District Court the viability of filing a motion to suppress evidence should always be considered when a client is charged with an offense in which the Commonwealth must prove possession to secure a conviction against a defendant. Boston area criminal Defense Attorney Kathleen M. McCarthy has successfully litigated motions to suppress evidence in the Massachusetts Superior and District Courts. Whenever a client is charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, trafficking in a controlled substance, possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition or possession of a dangerous weapon a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney should consider filing a motion to suppress evidence. If a motion to suppress evidence is successful that is often the end of the case.
In order to be in a position to file a motion to suppress a defendant must have standing and an expectation of privacy. Standing generally means that a person is legally in a position to file such a motion. Whenever a defendant is charged with an offense in which the Commonwealth must prove possession to convict a defendant, such as unlawful possession of a firearm, G.L. c. 269 § 10 9h), he has automatic standing to contest the reasonableness of the search under Article Fourteen of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. Commonwealth v. Amendola, 406 Mass. 592, 601 (1990) [adopting doctrine of “automatic standing” where defendant is charged with a possessory offense and seeks to exclude evidence under the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights]. Whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy is usually a separate--but related issue. In Commonwealth v. Kirschner, 67 Mass. App. Ct. 836 (2006) the Appeals court recognized that a defendant charged with a possessory offense is relieved of the burden of showing an expectation of privacy. See, Commonwealth v. Frazier, 410 Mass. 235 (1991).
STANDING/EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY
Under the Fourth Amendment, the question of whether the defendant has standing to challenge a search or seizure is merged with the determination of whether the defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the place searched, and a defendant has no standing if he has no reasonable expectation of privacy. Rakas v. Illinoi, 439 U.S. 128, 138-39 (1978); Commonwealth v. Mubdi, 456 Mass. 385, 391 (2010). In contrast, under Article Fourteen, the question of standing remains separate from the question of reasonable expectation of privacy. Mubdi, 456 Mass. at 391; Commonwealth v. Williams, 435 Mass. 203, 207-08 (2009); Commonwealth v. Frazier, 410 Mass. 235, 244 n. 3 (1991). “This separation matters most in cases where a defendant is charged with a possessory offense, because Article Fourteen gives a defendant automatic standing to challenge a search of a private place, such as an automobile or home, in which the object he is alleged to possess is found.” Mubdi, 456 Mass. at 392. Where a defendant has automatic standing, he does not need to show that he has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the place searched. Id. “The practical consequence of automatic standing is that, if a defendant is charged with illegally possessing drugs or firearms that were seized during a search, the defendant may succeed in suppressing such evidence where the search was unconstitutional, regardless of whether he has a subjective or objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the place where the drugs or firearms were found.” Id. at 392-93.