Published on:

It is important to have an attorney who knows the ins-and-outs of: Criminal Law

handcuffs-and-constitutionIf you are charged with a crime you need an attorney who knows how to assert all of your constitutional rights. Not just the ones everyone knows from television, but other rights such as the 6th amendment right to confront a witness at trial.

But what does this mean? In the recent United States Supreme Court decision of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts the high court held that the criminal defendant accused of a drug crime has a right to confront (i.e. cross examine) the laboratory analysts rather than having the prosecutor enter into evidence a laboratory certificate proving the drug substance and amount.

This case arose from a state court drug trial whereby Melendez-Diaz was charged with possession of drugs. As part of the state’s case the prosecutor had to prove that the seized substance was in fact illegal drugs, and the actual quantity or weight. Traditionally the Massachusetts prosecutor did  this by entering into evidence a certificate sworn out by the laboratory analysts before a notary public. At the time this was proper under Massachusetts law. However the defense attorney was astute enough to object, citing Melendez-Diaz’s  6th amendment right to confront the witnesses that the state presents against him. The trial court overruled the objection and Melendez-Diaz was eventually convicted.

Because of the defense lawyer’s objection in the trial court the case went up on appeal on the question of whether the Massachusetts law and tradition of entering documents to prove their case violated a citizen’s 6th amendment right to confront witnesses against him/her in a criminal proceeding. Just recently the United States Supreme Court held that indeed it did and overturned the conviction. Specifically, the court held that the sworn certificate was testimonial in nature and covered by the confrontation clause. This makes a witnesses testimony inadmissible unless the witness appears and testifies at trial and the witness is subjected to cross examination. Because this is a United States Supreme Court ruling the law applies in New York as well as Massachusetts.

If you, a friend, or a loved one is charged with a crime you need an attorney who is astute in the area of criminal law and understands how to assert all of your constitutional rights, the common as well as obscure ones. The Law Office of Michael J. Palumbo practices criminal law in the local courts of New York. We are adept at analyzing a criminal matter and navigating you through the system. If you or someone you know has been arrested contact us at 914-777-2990 or visit our website