Published On: Thu, Jun 23rd, 2016

Massachusetts State Supreme Court Affirms Law Does Not Permit Criminalization Of The Homeless,,,

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Aaron Wolfson, media relations specialist, 617-482-3170 x310,
Christopher Ott, communications director, 617-482-3170 x322,

BOSTON — In a case decided today by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, regarding application of the “necessity defense,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts successfully defended the rights of a man charged with trespassing in the hallway of mixed-use property after being unable to access emergency shelter during bitter winter cold.

Homeless Criminalization

The following statement may be attributed to Jessie Rossman, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts:

“Today’s landmark, unanimous ruling has affirmed, in the state high court’s own words that ‘our law does not permit the punishment of the homeless simply for being homeless.’

“The necessity defense provides a critical safety valve, which allows juries to acquit individuals when they determine that following the law would cause more harm than breaking it.

“This case provides a quintessential example of an instance where the necessity defense is required. Mr Magadini trespassed in the hallway of mixed-use property, but only to escape bitter cold after being denied access to emergency shelter.

“Today’s decision confirms that poverty is not a crime in the Commonwealth, reinforces the very purposes of the necessity defense and ensures that people in the Commonwealth have a voice and an opportunity to decide how we as a community are going to address the issue of homelessness.”


For more information about the case, Commonwealth v. Magadini, go to:

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