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Commonwealth v. Crowley-Chester

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Hampden

January 5, 2015

Commonwealth
v.
Atreyo Crowley-Chester

Argued: September 8, 2014.

Complaint received and sworn to in the Springfield Division of the District Court Department on March 15, 2011.

A pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Robert A. Gordon, J.

An application for leave to prosecute an interlocutory appeal was allowed by Margot Botsford, J., in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk, and the case was reported by her to the Appeals Court.

Jane Davidson Montori, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

Patrick A. Michaud for the defendant.

Present: Berry, Kafker, & Hanlon, JJ.

OPINION

[21 N.E.3d 989] Berry, J.

The defendant was charged with carrying a firearm without a license, in violation of G. L. c. 269, § 10( a ), and possession of a firearm or ammunition without a firearm identification (FID) card, in violation of G. L. c. 269, § 10( h ). After an evidentiary hearing, a District Court judge allowed the defendant's motion to suppress the loaded firearm recovered by police during an inventory search following the impoundment of the Honda

Page 805

automobile in which the defendant had been a passenger.[1]

Suppression was based on the judge's finding that the impoundment and inventory of the Honda were not necessary. However, the governing standard is not one of necessity ; rather the standard is whether the police actions in impounding and conducting an inventory search of a motor vehicle are reasonably undertaken based on the specific facts and circumstances presented. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the impoundment, towing, and inventory of the automobile were reasonable, constitutionally appropriate, [21 N.E.3d 990] and compliant with the written police impoundment policy. Accordingly, we reverse the order allowing the motion to suppress.

1. Background.

We summarize the findings of the motion judge, supplemented with undisputed facts adduced at the suppression hearing. Commonwealth v. Isaiah I., 448 Mass. 334, 337, 861 N.E.2d 404 (2007), S. C., 450 Mass. 818, 882 N.E.2d 328 (2008). On March 15, 2011, Springfield police Officers Longo and Canini were on routine patrol on William Street in Springfield. At approximately 3:00 a.m., the officers observed a dark-colored Honda automobile legally parked next to a vacant lot with its engine running and its lights off. Given the late hour, the running engine, and an area known to the officers to have a high crime rate, the police officers shined the police cruiser's spotlight ...


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