Leonardo Angiulo: Aaron Hernandez Should Probably Lawyer Up
Monday, June 24, 2013
First, there is allegedly some issue about a gentleman getting shot and sustaining injury to his face in Florida. And by “allegedly” I mean, Mr. Alexander Bradley filed suit in the U.S. District Court of Southern Florida seeking damages for negligence and claiming an intentional tort against Mr. Hernandez. Interestingly, this means Mr. Bradley's attorneys claim Mr. Hernandez both intentionally pointed and discharged the firearm as well as handled the firearm negligently. In any event, civil suits are different from criminal cases in a very important way: they are all about money. And if both parties can agree on a settlement figure, the case ends.
Criminal cases are a whole different animal. They are premised on the idea that there should be consequences if a person is proven to have committed, or admits to, wrongdoing. Reports differ on whether, or not, arrest warrants were issued for Mr. Hernandez and other allegations have circulated through various media sources ranging from national publications to local news outlets. I saw one allegation from a sports entertainment website claiming Mr. Hernandez owns the most elaborate doghouse on the planet.
Since we don't have specifics we can be sure of, lets talk in generalities. Lets say, hypothetically speaking, that a person you know is found shot dead approximately a mile from your home adjacent to a car you rented. Lets also say surveillance video from third parties puts the deceased in your neighborhood with two other individuals in the hours prior to the body being discovered. To bring this fact pattern into the 21st century, you own a cell phone and your home has a security system that includes video surveillance.
These things alone tend to show you might know something about where the deceased was shortly before this incident and what that person was doing before they passed. One of the lines between being a material witness and the participant in a crime is your role in the event. A relevant crime in this hypothetical is known as “accessory before the fact.” The elements of this offense are found in MGL c. 274, §2 and states that those aiding in the commission of a felony by counseling, hiring or otherwise procuring such felony to be committed shall be punished in the same way as the person committing the felony. So, under this law if a person helps another commit a murder then, in Massachusetts, they face life in prison too.
Now, let's say you have this elaborate security system at your home that has video cameras and you go ahead and delete those videos. Or maybe break your phone. And you do these things after the police start asking questions about the deceased. Well, that raises two issues. Preliminarily, if you destroy evidence in connection with a criminal investigation you could be committing the common law, indictable offense known as obstruction of justice. Of course, if you do anything that assists a felon escape detection, arrest, trial or punishment you may become an accessory after the fact.
Like everything else in the law, your intent and your actions defines the offense you could be charged with. What if it was revealed that you destroyed the video to prevent anyone from finding out you were with the deceased at the time of his death. If you knowingly participate in a crime, alone or with others, with the intent required for that offense then you may be guilty of a murder because you aided and abetted the person who pulled the trigger. The destruction of those videos may be introduced at your trial and argued to be evidence of your conciousness of guilt.
The moral of the story is that one family has suffered a tragic loss. What we don't have are essential facts about who is responsible and in what way. Until we do, the presumption of innocence controls how the court of law proceeds. The court of popular opinion, however, operates by very different rules.
- GoLocal Sports tackles Hernandez, Bruins and more
- Leonardo Angiulo: Criminal Justice—What The TV Shows Leave Out
- Leonardo Angiulo: Statutes of Limitations May Bring Your Past into the New Year
- Leonardo Angiulo: Two Supreme Court Decisions Shaping the Gun Control Debate
- NEW: Hernandez Involved In Run-Ins With Providence Police
- Leonardo Angiulo: Did Worcester’s City Solicitor File Strategic Litigation Against Public Policy?
- Leonardo Angiulo: Surviving Party Season With Your Teenager
- Leonardo Angiulo: Two Supreme Court Rulings That Seem Like Sci-Fi
- NEW: Reports Saying Hernandez Arrest Imminent
- Leonardo Angiulo: Exactly What Happens After She Has Your Baby
- Leonardo Angiulo: Swearing To Tell The Truth Means Something
- Leonardo Angiulo: What Happens To Digital Property When You Die?
- Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez questioned in murder case
- Leonardo Angiulo: How Much Privacy Did You Lose This Week? A Lot.
- Leonardo Angiulo: The Difference Between MA Law and Oscar Pistorius’ Bail Hearing
- Leonardo Angiulo: Why You Should Think Twice Before Secretly Recording With Your Cellphone
- Leonard Angiulo: MA Court Takes Hit of Justice in Marijuana Rulings
- Leonardo Angiulo: How To Survive Tax Day (and Stay Out of Jail)
- Leonardo Angiulo: The Discovery Process in Civil Cases
- Leonardo Angiulo: Wicked Bad Storms and Eminent Domain
- Leonardo Angiulo: A New Law That Will Let You Have More E-Privacy
- Leonardo Angiulo: Parents’ Ability to Get a Restraining Order to Protect Their Kids
- Leonardo Angiulo: The Governor’s Authority to Issue a Travel Ban
- Leonardo Angiulo: Are Forced Blood Tests Constitutional in DUI Arrests?
- Leonardo Angiulo: Putting A Price On Wrongful Death
- Leonardo Angiulo: The Importance of Filling out Financial Statements in Probate Court
- Leonardo Angiulo: Changes on the Horizon for Crime Scene Investigation
- Leonardo Angiulo: Recent Antitrust Lawsuit Protects Our Access to Beer
- Leonardo Angiulo: This Is Our City, You Play By Our Rules