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Worcester Criminal Defense Law Blog

Appeals court strikes down lifetime supervised release as punitive

A federal appellate court has struck down a lower court's order for lifetime supervised release in a case where the defendants' sentences were shortened by an earlier appeal. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal supervised release program is not to be used punitively against defendants.

The Second Circuit covers New York, Connecticut and Vermont, while Massachusetts is in the First. However, the issues addressed are the same and Second Circuit decisions carry weight in the First Circuit.

Field sobriety tests are voluntary

If law enforcement officers in Massachusetts ever suspect you of drunk or drugged driving, they will ask you to perform certain physical tests so that they can check you for impairment. These tests are called field sobriety tests. While the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration claims that these provide accurate measurements of impairment, the truth is, the results are often somewhat questionable due to their subjective nature.

What are the standard field sobriety tests? What are officers looking for when they administer these tests? Do I have to comply?

A defendant's rights after being charged with a crime

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution gives everyone the right to a speedy trial. If a Massachusetts judge deems that a trial took too long to commence, the case may be dismissed. Typically, the word speedy is defined as a reasonable amount of time depending on the circumstances of a given case. In addition to having a case heard in a reasonable amount of time, a defendant's fate must be determined by an impartial jury.

Typically, the jury is made up of 12 people who must all agree as to whether a defendant is innocent or guilty after hearing the evidence. If the jury cannot come up with a unanimous decision, they are considered to be hung or split. When this occurs, a mistrial is declared, and the case may either be dismissed or retried in front of another jury.

Tiger Woods blames prescriptions for DUI

Massachusetts residents may have read reports about an incident involving Tiger Woods. Woods was taken into custody by police in Florida on DUI charges on May 29, but the former world number one says that his disoriented demeanor was caused by an unexpected reaction to medication that he had been prescribed by his doctor. Police reports revealed that the four-time Masters winner had no alcohol in his system at the time of the incident.

Those reports also indicate that Jupiter police took Woods into custody after discovering him sleeping at the wheel of his stationary but idling vehicle near Indian Creek Parkway. Officers say that the professional golfer was unsteady on his feet and unable to perform a series of standard field sobriety tests. Reports suggest that Woods was cooperative both at the scene and later at the Palm Beach County Jail. He was released on his own recognizance after about four hours.

Arson offenses in Massachusetts

There are numerous property crimes that are codified under the criminal law of Massachusetts, including a number of offenses having to do with arson. People who are convicted of these offenses may face thousands of dollars in fines, long terms of imprisonment and restitution orders.People who are convicted of maliciously burning a dwelling or who assist others in burning a dwelling may face two and one-half years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. They may also face the same potential punishments if they burn meeting houses or churches. It does not matter if the buildings are vacant or if the people who set fire to them own them.

People who are convicted of maliciously setting fire to the woods may face up to three years in prison or a fine of $500 and one year of imprisonment. If they are convicted of wantonly or recklessly starting fires in the woods or of causing them to spread, they may face up to two years in prison and a fine of $1,000. People who negligently set fires that spread to the property of others may face up to two years in prison or fines of up to $1,000. If the fire is negligently set on another's property in town, injuring someone, people who are convicted may face fines of $100 and imprisonment of one month in jail. They will also be liable to pay all damages that are caused by the fire.

Hayley Hasselhoff charged with drunk driving

Massachusetts residents may know Hayley Hasselhoff for her starring role in the ABC family show 'Huge", but they may not know that she is also David Hasselhoff's daughter. The former 'Baywatch" star has provided tabloid writers with several memorable headlines during his tumultuous career, and media reports indicate that his daughter may now be struggling with substance abuse problems of her own. The 24-year-old was taken into custody by deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office during the early morning hours of May 13 after an alleged drunk driving incident.

Police say that they received calls at about 4:00 a.m. about a car that had stopped on an off-ramp of the Ventura Highway in Woodland Hills. When deputies arrived at the scene, they say that they observed Hasselhoff slumped behind the wheel of a white Mercedes sedan. The actress was said to have been passed out with her foot on the brake pedal at the time. Officers say that they took control of the vehicle after rousing Hasselhoff and persuading her to lower her driver's side window.

Coke finds its way into Church. Pastor accused of selling coke, fentanyl and pills

On May 2, a 58-year-old Massachusetts pastor was taken into custody after authorities found drugs, stolen property and cash during a search of his home and church. He reportedly ran a 12-step substance abuse program at his church.

Authorities obtained a search warrant for the man's home, the Mission Church and Victoria's Kitchen Food Trailer. The church and food trailer were located in the 200 block of Quincy Street in Dorchester. During a search of the three locations, the officers alleged that they recovered 34 grams of coke, 11 grams of fentanyl and a variety of prescription pills. The authorities also reportedly recovered property that had been reported as stolen and about $10,400 in cash.

Woman accused of stealing $700,000 sentenced to 2 years

On April 25, it was reported that a Massachusetts woman admitted to stealing more than $700,000 from her employer. The 39-year-old defendant spent the money on a boat, private-school tuition and a lavish lifestyle.

According to the court documents, the woman was an administrative manager for a real estate company. She was responsible for handling and depositing checks as well as requesting checks to pay for business-related expenses. The documents claimed that she used the flaws in the accounting and auditing system to her advantage. Between October 2011 and October 2015, she was accused of requesting checks payable to a fake name. She then endorsed those checks and deposited them in a separate bank account that she had access to.

The hard lesson of an OUI arrest

Many people say that college was the best time of their lives. The freedom, the friends, the social activities and the academics are experiences that often mold your decisions for the rest of your life. The atmosphere of college can make you feel like you know everything. You may have recently discovered that there is still a lot to learn.

For example, perhaps you didn't know the option for refusing a breath test when police pulled you over for operating under the influence. Now that you are facing OUI charges, are you aware of how a conviction can affect your future?

Massive fraud leads to thousands of dismissed drug charges

A major case of fraud and corruption has led to the dismissal of over 21,000 drug convictions in Massachusetts. In 2013, a state chemist admitted that for nine years, she had returned positive results for evidence in drug cases that she never actually tested and had forged the signatures of her co-workers.

District attorneys submitted lists of 21,587 cases that they were unable or unwilling to prosecute based on the errors made by the woman, who worked at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute. During her time at the lab, she routinely produced drug test results for over 500 samples monthly, in comparison to 150 monthly results obtained by the average chemist.

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