On May 11, 2018, LM, a 49 year old black man from NYC, was driving a car with Georgia plates in Saugus. His cousin, MG, a 47 year old black female was with LM. A State Trooper claimed that the license plate was obscured and pulled LM over. (This was your classic “DWB” – Driving While Black – stop of a motor vehicle.) The Trooper claimed that the name of the state on the license plate (Georgia) was obscured by a plate frame. After the stop the Trooper searched the vehicle and seized a host of items including three Microsoft Surface Pro Tablets (stolen), eight Pennsylvania driver’s licenses in the name of MG, one Pennsylvania license and two New Jersey licenses with the picture of LM on them, six Western Union Master Card debit cards and four PayPal MasterCard debit cards with different names on them. Seven charges were filed against LM:
(1) Receiving Stolen Property over $1,200 (The three Tablets)
(2) Identity Fraud
(3) Uninsured Motor Vehicle
(4) Unregistered Motor Vehicle
(5) Attaching a Number Plate to Conceal The Identity of a Vehicle
(6) Number Plate Violation
(7) Forgery of a Registry Document.
LM contacted Attorney Robert Lewin of North Andover. LM met with Attorney Lewin. Attorney Lewin had LM get photos of the license plate in the holder. There was no question that the entire plate was visible – including the state name Georgia.
After several months of getting all the discovery in the case Attorney Lewin filed a Motion To Suppress all the evidence gathered by the police after the stop of the vehicle. The basis of the Motion to Suppress was that there was no evidence that any crime or traffic rule had been violated when the police officer signaled LM to pull over. Before the police can lawfully stop a vehicle, they must have a reasonable suspicion based upon articulable facts that a crime (including any violation of the motor vehicle law) has been, is being, or is about to be committed. In LM’s case the reason for the stop as argued by the police was that the license plate was not visible. This was demonstrably false. Attorney Lewin attached to the Motion to Suppress a big color photo of the license plate in the holder. It was clear that the entire plate was visible.
On March 21, 2019 LM and Attorney Lewin appeared in Court ready for the hearing on the Motion to Suppress. The police officer was among the missing. The District Attorney requested a continuance and Attorney Lewin strenuously objected. The District Attorney was able to reach the officer on the phone; after consulting with the officer the District Attorney returned to the Courtroom and told the Judge that the Commonwealth was asking that the case be dismissed. The Judge then proceeded to order all the charges against LM dismissed.
Hard work and persistence paid off. LM left the Courthouse a happy man.