Attorney Christopher Spring today convinced a Lowell District Court judge to dismiss charges of receiving a stolen motor vehicle and resisting arrest against his client. Attorney Spring’s motion to dismiss can be viewed here.
In March of 2017, Lowell cops ran the license plate of a brown Lexus being driven in the city. The vehicle had been reported stolen by its owner, and the police attempted to stop it. The driver fled and a brief chase occurred during which the Lexus collided with three parked cars, a metal barrier, and a picket fence. When the Lexus came to a stop, the four people inside ran away in different directions. Attorney Spring’s client was sitting on the passenger side of the car. Three cops were involved in the chase and they were able to track down the driver and two of the passengers (including Attorney Spring’s client). They were charged with receiving a stolen motor vehicle, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.
Attorney Spring filed a motion to dismiss the resisting arrest and receiving a stolen motor vehicle charges, arguing the police had failed to establish probable cause in the police reports submitted to the clerk magistrate. There are very few situations where a judge will dismiss a criminal charge over the objection of the prosecutor. However, if there is not even probable cause to support the charges, the case will be dismissed.
Receiving a Stolen Motor Vehicle
In order to prove this charge, the Commonwealth needed to have established Attorney Spring’s client: had possession of the car; knew or should have known it was stolen; and intended to deprive the owner of the rightful use of the car. Attorney Spring argued there was no evidence either that his client possessed the car (since she was a passenger) or that she knew or should have known the car was stolen. There was nothing about the car (such as a damaged ignition) that would cause someone to be suspicious that the car was stolen.
To prove a defendant resists arrest, the Commonwealth must establish the person knew the officer was attempting to arrest her at the time she resisted. Usually this is accomplished by the officer telling the suspect that she is under arrest, which never happened in this case. Additionally, the Appeals Court has repeatedly said simply running away from the cops does not constitute resisting arrest. In this case, because it was not reasonable for Attorney Spring’s client to understand the police officer was trying to arrest her (by virtue of running after her) and because she did not use physical force against the officer, she should not have been charged with resisting arrest.
Once these two charges were dismissed, the only remaining charge was disorderly conduct. The Commonwealth agreed to dismiss that charge as well and Attorney Spring’s client will not need to return to court. If you are charged with a crime, it is important that you immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to explore your options.