CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY: ALL CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED

In the summer of 2015 a male in his early 20s went into a Market Basket store in Lawrence and stole a Mountain Dew. As he was headed out of the store he was confronted by a loss prevention officer. A scuffle broke out and the police were called. The police responded quickly and the male settled down. When asked for identification he said his name was SG and he gave a date of birth and an address in Nashua, NH. The police told him he would be receiving a summons to go to Court. About six weeks later a mam named SG received a summons to appear in Lawrence District Court to answer to charges of shoplifting and assault and battery. SG knew nothing about this. In fact, SG had never been in the City of Lawrence. Apparently, the male in the store had used SG’s identity as his own.

The real SG retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover. Attorney Lewin took a detailed statement from SG as to where he was on the day and time of the offense and whom he was with. It was clear that SG had a solid alibi defense. Attorney Lewin filed the appropriate discovery motions to force Market Basket to produce the store security videos from the date and time of the alleged offense. The videos clearly showed the real offender and it was clear that it was not SG. When SG and his parents saw the video they immediately recognized who the real offender was – it was a cousin of SG’s (who would have known his date of birth). The cousin is a heroin addict so his behavior in the Market Basket was not a surprise.

On January 4, 2016 the case was scheduled for trial in Lawrence District Court. Attorney Lewin had all the alibi witnesses present at Court and Attorney Lewin had the real offender’s mother present at Court in the event it became necessary to identify the true offender from the video. Attorney Lewin had the alibi witnesses speak with the District Attorney. They all told the DA that SG was not the person on the video. Finally the DA agreed that they had charged the wrong person and the DA filed a nolle prosequi. A nolle prosequi is a written statement by the prosecutor that the Commonwealth is no longer prosecuting the charges. It is a dismissal filed by the prosecutor. That ended the case.

However, the two charges still show up on SG’s CORI (Criminal Record) and SG’s name still appears in the Court records and in the police records. Generally speaking expunging of records in criminal cases is not allowed in Massachusetts; however, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that when a person is demonstrably factually innocent and the charge has been brought against the wrong person then that person is entitled to have the record of the case expunged – completely purged. Attorney Lewin has filed the appropriate motion to get all the records of this case (in SG’s name) expunged. The motion is scheduled for hearing in late January 2016. It is this level of detail that Attorney Lewin brings to every criminal case that he handles.