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Decision Commonwealth v. O'Leary

Date: 11/20/2017
Organization: Appeals Court

Table of Contents

Commonwealth v. O'Leary

Commonwealth v. O’Leary
Appeals Court, September 22, 2017
(Defendant’s Rights/Motor Vehicle Citation)

A law enforcement officer’s failure to issue a citation at the scene of a motor vehicle crash does not compel the dismissal of resulting criminal charges pursuant to G.L. c. 90C, §2, where the passenger suffered serious injury, both people in the car were taken to the hospital for treatment, and the defendant was notified by the officer verbally that he would be issued a citation in the mail. The circumstances in this situation suffice to put the defendant on notice that he would be charged and met the purpose of the statute.

In this case, the officer waited nine days for his report to be reviewed approved by a supervisor and then used an incorrect zip code for the defendant, resulting in another five to six week delay before the defendant received the motor vehicle citation in the mail.

General Law c. 90C, § 2:

"A failure to give a copy of the citation [for an automobile laws violation] to the violator at the time and place of the violation shall constitute a defense in any court proceeding for such violation, except where the violator could not have been stopped or where additional time was reasonably necessary to determine the nature of the violation or the identity of the violator, or where the court finds that a circumstance, not inconsistent with the purpose of this section to create a uniform, simplified and non-criminal method for disposing of automobile law violations, justifies the failure. In such case the violation shall be recorded upon a citation as soon as possible after such violation and the citation shall be delivered to the violator or mailed to him at his residential or mail address or to the address appearing on his license or registration." 


Footnote 8 reads, “[w]e do not condone Trooper Gray's election to await review and ‘approval’ of his report by his supervisor before issuing a citation.”