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Worcester Criminal Defense Law Blog

Know the possible criminal defense strategies for your case

Every criminal charge that is placed against a person has specific elements that must be considered. Because the criminal justice system is based on the premise of the prosecution having to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant committed the crime, a defense strategy is usually based on trying to introduce doubt about the defendant's guilt. We can help you to evaluate the elements of your case to help you determine what criminal defense strategies might be appropriate.

One thing that we must do when we work on your case is to determine how you are going to plead and what type of defense strategy you will use. You can plead not guilty, guilty or no contest. Learning about how each option will affect your case might help you to decide how to plead. We need to evaluate the options quickly since you will have to enter your plea early in your case.

Understanding 2 basic jury types

In criminal law cases, you might deal with two very different juries: the grand jury and the trial jury. While both of these juries are comprised of individuals selected from throughout the area -- a jury of your peers -- they have very different duties within the criminal court.

The trial jury is actually what most people think of when someone talks about a jury. This is the group of six to twelve individuals who make a decision of innocence or guilt in a formal criminal trial. The trial jury is selected from a group of people who are called for jury duty. Attorneys for either side are able to ask questions of the potential jurors and object to a certain number of jurors. Usually, attorneys object to jurors because they feel like they will be biased one way or another in the case.

Drug convictions carry harsh penalties in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has very strict laws regarding drugs like heroin, crack and cocaine. Defendants who find themselves facing the court system for these types of charges often opt to fight against the charges in an effort to minimize the penalties that they will face. Finding out the possible penalties and options to keep those to a minimum are crucial if you are facing these charges.

Let's take a look at the cocaine laws in the state as an example of how severe the penalties could be. All cocaine offenses are considered felonies, which means that if you are convicted, you are automatically branded as a felon. This means that you might face difficulties finding a job or housing. You might also have to deal with the loss of some rights, such as the right to bear arms, which can make enjoying life difficult.

MA court: Do you have a right to a lawyer before a breath test?

The highest court in Massachusetts will decide if a driver has a right to legal counsel before a breath test when pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. The Supreme Judicial Court is scheduled to hear the case on Thursday, according to an article in Mass Live.

What should I know about shoplifting in Massachusetts?

Going into a business and taking merchandise without paying for it is considered shoplifting; however, that isn't the only action that might lead to a shoplifting charge. You can also be charged with shoplifting if you change the price of an item, which could be possible if you move a price sticker from one item to another. Taking a shopping cart from a store is another form of shoplifting. Massachusetts law has set specific laws regarding shoplifting.

Is a warrant required for a shoplifting arrest?

Can you refuse a breathalyzer test?

Like many states throughout the country, Massachusetts has strict laws that govern how alleged drunk drivers are charged. Questions still remain about an individual's rights after being pulled over or arrested on suspicion of DUI/DWI/OUI, such as "do I have to take the breath test?" It is within your rights to refuse a breathalyzer or any other field sobriety tests. However, it is important to know that there are consequences for refusing.

Report provides insight into state's high recidivism rates

Individuals who are convicted of criminal charges in Massachusetts appear to be more likely to later be arrested and convicted of additional criminal charges. This fact is evident in a report that was recently released by the Council of State Governments which details the results of a study that examined several aspects of Massachusetts' criminal justice system.

According to the report, the state's "prison recidivism rates…are around 40 percent." This figure is troubling for many reasons and appears to indicate that, for a significant number of Massachusetts residents, one run-in with law enforcement officials can signal the start of a vicious cycle where they are more likely to be arrested and, due to their prior record, convicted of subsequent crimes.

Will police officers soon be allowed to plug into our cellphones?

While today's motor vehicles are safer than ever, unfortunately today's drivers are also more distracted than ever. The proliferation of mobile technologies like smartphones and personal tablets have made it easier and more tempting than ever for drivers to text, check email or surf the web while driving.

Consequently, according to the National Safety Council, during the last three years, cellphone-related collisions have continued to increase and now account for more than 25 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. In an effort to crack down on cellphone-related crashes, most states have passed laws banning drivers from texting and many also have bans on using handheld cellphones while driving.

Massachusetts among states taking steps to reduce prison population

The overcrowding of U.S. prisons has been a long-standing and well-documented problem. The financial costs associated with incarceration are significant and, according to the U.S. government, during 2014, the average cost of incarceration per inmate was $30,619.85. In addition to the significant financial costs, incarceration also takes an enormous personal toll on the individuals and families who are affected.

With several states and the federal government seeking reforms to mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker recently signed a bill that repealed a law which required the mandatory "driver's license suspension for those convicted of drug crimes."

No more automatic license suspensions for drug convictions

It's been a long road to get to this point, but Massachusetts has finally abolished the automatic driver's license suspension for drug crime convictions.

As we mentioned in a previous blog post, the Massachusetts House passed a bill to eliminate the automatic license suspension for drug crime convictions. And now this bill has become law. 

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