Four men accused of a burglary, who first were suspected of an attempted abduction in Attelboro, are being held in jail on $25,000 bail, The Sun Chronicle reports.
Charges of burglary in Attleboro are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, which is likely why the defendants were held on such a high bail. This case also highlights the damage that can be done by the news media and makes the job more challenging for a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer.
The Sun Chronicle story, in its first paragraph mentions “attempting to abduct” and a 7 News report online repeats the same phrasing. Yet, there are no charges of abduction that these men face.
The damage has already been done in the court of public opinion. When people think of this case, they’re going to think about the fact that police believe these men were attempting to abduct a woman, when there is absolutely no proof. Working to separate fact from fiction — and fighting to keep irrelevant material out of court — will be critical to the defense.
According to the news reports, a woman was jogging near the Attelboro/Rehoboth line, when she saw a van carrying several men drive by slowly. When the van turned around and drove by her again, she panicked, letting go of her dog’s leash and running toward a nearby house. When no one was there, she hid in the woods.
Police have said she had the right to act that way. Maybe she did, but a van driving slowly, perhaps because the driver was lost, doesn’t constitute allegations of an abduction. Other than the woman being spooked by the incident, there is nothing to suggest the people in the van wanted to harm her.
Sadly, this may be what sticks with people who have read the articles or watched the TV news broadcasts. After this happened, police launched a massive hunt for the men, using a reverse 911 message to alert residents.
Ryan McCoy, 23, of Attleboro; James Gould, 27, and Benjamin Gould, 23, of Plainville and Phillip Muggle, 29, of Rehoboth were arraigned recently in Taunton District Court after police arrested them.
The Sun Chronicle reports that police found property from a Smith Street house that linked them to a burglary. They also face a charge of witness intimidation, though it doesn’t appear from the media reports that there is much evidence of that.
Because of all the excitement of a police manhunt and the media coverage, this will be a topic of conversation for a few days. Whether there is any real evidence linking them to a burglary remains to be seen. So far, they are guilty of nothing.
A burglary is fairly common, but an abduction isn’t. An experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer knows that jury selection is perhaps the most important part of a trial. If this case reaches that stage, it will be important to ensure jurors do not rely on media reports or evidence not before the court.
Without a fair jury, a defendant doesn’t have a shot.
Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer Michael DelSignore represents clients facing serious misdemeanor and felony charges throughout the state.
More Blog Entries:
Baby Lisa Case Could Lead to Kidnapping, Murder Charges: October 25, 2011