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Commonwealth v. Lastowski

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Franklin

January 4, 2018

COMMONWEALTH
v.
AARON A. LASTOWSKI.

          Heard: October 3, 2017

         A motion to withdraw pleas of guilty, filed on May 14, 2015, was heard by William F. Mazanec, III, J. The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.

          Edward Gauthier for the defendant.

          Cynthia M. Von Flatern, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present (Sitting at Greenfield): Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, Cypher, & Kafker, JJ.

          KAFKER, J.

         In 2014, the defendant pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person age fourteen or older. One year later, the defendant moved to withdraw his guilty pleas, contending that plea counsel was constitutionally ineffective because plea counsel failed to advise him of the duty to register as a sex offender, and its consequences, or explain that he might have sought a continuance without a finding. A judge in the District Court, who had also been the plea judge, denied the defendant's motion, finding the defendant's affidavit and assertions not credible.

         The defendant appealed from the denial of his motion, and we granted his motion for direct appellate review. We conclude that the motion judge correctly determined that the defendant did not satisfy the prejudice requirement of the Saferian test. See Commonwealth v. Saferian, 366 Mass. 89 (1974). We therefore affirm the decision of the judge in denying the defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty pleas.

         1. Background.

         We summarize the following facts from findings made by the judge and other undisputed record materials, reserving certain details for discussion of the legal issues.

         a. Plea hearing.

         On May 7, 2014, the defendant, Aaron Lastowski, tendered guilty pleas on three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person age fourteen or older in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 13H. As part of his pleas, the defendant was required to submit a tender of plea or admission and waiver of rights form. The plea judge first had the defendant acknowledge that the form had the defendant's signature and that the signature manifested his having read and understood the paragraphs regarding his waiver of rights.

         After this acknowledgment, the prosecutor presented the factual basis for the charges. According to the prosecutor, if the Commonwealth took this case to trial, it would have been able to prove the following facts.

         On May 7, 2013, the first victim reported to the Montague police department that she had been sexually assaulted at the Hillcrest Homes apartment complex in the Turners Falls area of Montague. The next day, Detective William Doyle of the Montague police department spoke with her. She stated that the defendant had approached her with an alcoholic drink in his hand and had squeezed her breast while stating, "I really like to squeeze titties when I'm drinking." She was ...


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