April 7, 2016 –BMC Roxbury
The day before Thanksgiving, after much arguing a family fight ensued. Client was in the custody of local law enforcement officers. Lawyer met Client the day after Thanksgiving. His head still bore the evidence of the attack. Crusted blood and matted hair covered from view an open wound where he had been struck with a hammer wielded by his step father. Lawyer took photos of the wound as Client told him the real story, not the one sided details in the police report. The family had been verbally arguing all day and when it turned physical. Pushing turned to shoving. Finally youth was overtaken by ingenuity, as the older aggressor, Client’s stepfather grabbed a weapon, swinging and striking Client in the skull. Injured but still standing from the adrenaline, Client was able to disarm his attacker. He dragged his step father down the stars and throwing him out of the house. When the police were called, both men were charged.
In situations where two people are charged with crimes against each other, the police reports are called cross complaints. When this occurs both parties have a right not to testify, a 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, a right not to speak to the police, district attorneys or judge. Because statements and accusations made against one party likely contain facts and evidence that can be used against the accuser in their own prosecution, each party must be advised of the situation by a disinterested attorney. Only after being advised of the ramifications can a party waive that right and testify or, as in this case, invoke the privilege. With no evidence remaining, the Commonwealth dismissed the charges. This Holiday family dispute had a happy ending.