Friday, November 15, 2013

Commonwealth v. Teixera case brief

Commonwealth v. Teixera case brief summary
488 N.E.2d 775 (1986)

Defendant appealed from his conviction by a six-person jury in a Massachusetts district court for neglecting to support an illegitimate child under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 273, § 15.

Defendant contended that the Commonwealth failed to establish his financial ability to support the allegedly illegitimate child. Additionally, defendant argued that the trial judge's charge that failure to provide support was prima facie evidence that the neglect was wilful and without cause impermissibly shifted the burden of proof to defendant. Finally, he contended that he was denied a fair trial because the prosecutor invited the jury to draw an inference from defendant's failure to deny paternity and because his attorney did not call him to testify.

  • The court concluded that a judgment of not guilty had to be entered because the Commonwealth failed to establish defendant's financial ability to support the child. 
  • The statutory requirement of Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 273, § 15 (1984) that the parents contribute reasonably to the child's support and that the failure to do so be wilful or neglectful before a conviction could be sustained required the Commonwealth to prove that defendant was financially able or had the earning capacity to contribute to the support of the child.

The judgment was reversed, the verdict was set aside, and a judgment of not guilty was entered.

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