Criminal Defense Questions

What is the time frame on indictment while incarcerated in Massachusetts?

My husband was arraigned 60 days ago and they have been keeping him on 5000 cash bail . I am questioning if there is a time limit on indictment and should he have to be let out by now ?

Attorney Answer: There is no minimum time frame for which the Commonwealth has to indict your husband.  The only requirement is that he be brought into Court every thirty days.  Your husband’s attorney can force the Commonwealth to show that they have probable cause for the charges.  If sufficient time passes, your husband’s attorney can move to reexamine bail and reduce it to personal recognizance based on the Commonwealth’s failure to indict in a timely manner.  Depending on the strength of the case and your husband’s criminal record, there may also come a point where he may want to enter into a plea for time served.  Without knowing the facts of the case and more about your husband’s record and history, I cannot be any more specific.  I suggest you speak with his attorney who should be able to answer your questions so long as you are not the named victim in the case.  Good luck!

What are consequences for minor daughter arrested for petty theft?

Additional Information:

What are the consequences for petty theft in MA for my teenage daughter (under 18 years old)?  It is her first time getting in trouble.  Some girls had dared her to steal from a store in Tewksbury and challenged her to see how much she could steal.  She was arrested for merchandise totaling $200.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

It depends on how old your daughter is.  If she is under age 17, she will be charged in the Juvenile Court.  If she is 17, she will be charged as an adult in Lowell District Court.  There are a wide range of possible consequences.  Under the facts as you present them, it is likely that she would be looking at a dismissal upon payment of Court costs and any restitution.  She could also receive pretrial probation (which is when a Defendant is placed on probation without any type of admission in Court and the case is subsequently dismissed if she complies with the terms of probation) or receive what is called a Continuance without a Finding in which she admits to sufficient facts to find her guilty but is not found guilty.  If she complies with any probationary terms for the continuance period, the case is dismissed.  Massachusetts law allows for more significant penalties such as a conviction or incarceration but those are extremely unlikely for a first offense for someone with no criminal record.  [Read more…]

We were both charged with assault. Can we refuse to press charges?

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Can we refuse to press charges? I was involved in a fight with a friend and we’ve both been charged with assault.  My question is, can we just refuse to press charges so the case goes away? Our parents are still neighbors in Tyngsborough and are good friends, and he and I were best friends since elementary school but now we don’t get along any more and neither one of us wants to press charges.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

It is not as simple as merely refusing to press charges.  Once the police forward the matter for prosecution, the named complaining witnesses no longer control the process.  It is up to the District Attorney’s Office.  Where both parties have been charged with an Assault, each of you may be able to assert your Fifth Amendment right to remain silient and not testify in Court.  I would strongly urge you both to consult with your own attorneys who can best advise you whether or not you each have legitimate Fifth Amendment issues that can be asserted.  [Read more…]

I was arrested for assault and battery and resisting arrest.

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In North Chelmsford, I was arrested for assault and battery and also charged with resisting arrest.  If I hire an attorney and get off on the battery charge will the resisting arrest charge be dismissed? Thank you.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The purpose of hiring an attorney is for more than simply to “get off” on the charges.  It is imperative that anyone charged with a crime has representation so that one’s constitutional rights are protected throughout the entire criminal process.  Unfortunately, the dismissal or other resolution of an Assault & Battery does not guarantee that the  Resisting Arrest charge will be dismissed.  I would strongly urge you to retain counsel in order to determine your best strategy in handling these serious charges.  [Read more…]

Will an out of state conviction count as a first offense in MA?

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Seven years ago, while I was living in NJ, I was convicted of possession of a controlled substance. I’m in grad school now in Central Mass and was arrested on similar charges. I did some research and found that the possession law in Massachusetts has stiffer penalties for those convicted of a second offense. For possession of a Class B substance, maximum of 2 years in jail vs. only one year for a first offense. Will the New Jersey conviction count as a first or prior offense for me? Thanks for any help.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The Answer is maybe.  If the Commonwealth does what is known as a III search for out of state records, they could try to amend the charge to a second offense.  Please keep in mind, however, that proving an out-of-state conviction is more difficult as it is unlikely that anyone from NJ is going to come to Massachusetts to confirm that you are the same person as that the named defendant in the NJ case. [Read more…]

If a person attends drug counseling will that stop the prosecution of a drug charge in MA?

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Our son was arrested for drug possession and is awaiting trial.  You should also know that he was arrested nearby a school in Lowell.  He has a court appointed lawyer but the lawyer hasn’t talked much to my son about it and hasn’t advised him on what he should do. I read somewhere that a person can ask the judge to stop the prosecution if he agrees to do drug counseling. Does that apply for a drug possession case in Massachusetts?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

If your son was charged with what is called a “School Zone” violation (possession of drugs within 1000 feet of a school), he is facing mandatory jail time unless the charge is broken down to straight possession.  Drug counseling would not apply to this situation.  Whether or not drug counseling rules apply depends on the type of drugs.  If your son is unhappy with his attorney, he should seek out a consultation with a criminal defense attorney.  I would be happy to consult with him.  [Read more…]

Our son was recently arrested while carrying a small amount of cocaine.

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Our son is a freshman at a college near Lowell. My wife and I are wondering if we should spend our money (which we can afford) to hire an attorney to defend him in this charge.  Is it going to make any difference or will he end up with the same type of plea bargain? Thanks.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

You should absolutely hire an attorney to defend your son. The consequences of the wrong plea could result in your son losing any financial aid for up to two years for possession of cocaine, even a small amount. In addition, depending on how the drugs were found and the underlying reason for the arrest, there may be legal reasons that the search was not valid. The quality of the attorney representing the Defendant absolutely affects the quality of the plea bargain. [Read more…]

What is the new law in Massachusetts regarding marijuana?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

I assume you are referring to the change act in 2010 that decriminalized the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, making it a civil violation.  Law enforcement are required to treat such possession as a civil offense.  The one caveat is that distribution or dealing less than an ounce is currently considered a crime in Massachusetts. [Read more…]

I got arrested in Dracut for domestic assault and battery.

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I posted bail at $500 and I never showed to the next court date.  What should I do?  I just want to get this off my back and get on with my life. I know I have a warrant and I don’t want to go to jail.  What can I do at this point?  Turn myself in and rot in jail for 4 months till they get to my court date?? Please some advice!!

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

You need a criminal defense attorney to accompany you to court as that will show the Court you intend to appear from this point forward. If you show up without counsel, there will be a bar advocate appointed to represent you. Please note that if you have any encounter with the police, even getting in a small fender bender, they may run your warrant status and arrest you. Getting held for transport on a warrant does not make a good impression on the court. It is better to get this taken care of sooner rather than later. [Read more…]