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Worcester Criminal Defense Law Blog

Former convicts deserve a fresh start

After serving jail or prison time in Massachusetts, there are often few opportunities for former convicts. All across America, their work opportunities are stifled by personal biases and 30,000 license restrictions. According to Forbes, these restrictions actually do more harm than good for the public.

Keep in mind that having a criminal record is no rarity in America. Roughly one-third of Americans have been convicted of a crime before, and anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of these could not find work within a year of their release. Employers simply do not want to hire people with criminal records, and even a misdemeanor from years prior can follow a person for life. This may increase the likelihood of committing another offense to make a living, causing many to end up right back in prison.

Intent determines the severity of vandalism charges

Stiff penalties come with vandalism crimes in Massachusetts. Individuals found guilty may face a misdemeanor or felony conviction.

According to FindLaw, vandalism refers to the destruction or unlawful damage of an individual’s property. Malicious damage covers a range of offenses from graffiti and tire slashing to defacing murals. The charges and penalties that result depend on the vandal’s state of mind. If the court finds the vandalism had willful and malicious intent to do harm, the guilty party may receive a felony conviction. However, a reckless action without ill intention can result in misdemeanor charges.

Does Uber really prevent drunk driving?

Uber often claims that its services help to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road. If you have spent a late night out on the town in Massachusetts and had a few drinks, you probably have taken Uber home instead of driving. However, a new study shows that while this helped to prevent you from drunk driving, Uber has no overall effect on drunk driving fatalities.

According to a CNN report, cities where Uber was a popular mode of transportation saw no decrease in drunk driving fatalities. To come to this conclusion, researchers selected 100 cities in America with the highest population counts and studied drunk driving data between 2009 and 2014 for these areas. Not only did Uber not reduce drunk driving at the most likely times, such as on the weekends, but it had no effect overall.

Massachusetts jurors can let beliefs inform judgement

Every judge has a set of criteria to uses to measure whether an individual would make a good juror in a case. At the top of the list is that person's ability to have an open mind as evidence is presented. However, some look a little further, also expecting that a juror's beliefs, worldviews or opinions should not inform their decision-making process for the case.

Now Massachusetts Justice Kimberly has written a decision that refutes this latter assertion. In part, it reads: "Asking a prospective juror to put aside his or her preconceived notions about the case to be tried is entirely appropriate (and indeed necessary); however, asking him or her to put aside opinions formed based on his or her life experiences or belief system is not."

Worcester man faces cocaine trafficking charges and more

As so many legal problems do, a Worcester man’s recent arrest began with a traffic stop. He was driving his car east on the Massachusetts Turnpike when he was pulled over in Framingham. Law enforcement officials said the officer searched the man’s vehicle and found 112 grams of cocaine in the driver-side door.

Later that day, police searched his Worcester home and found 1.5 kilos of cocaine that had been packaged for sale. He now faces drug trafficking charges, in addition to other pending charges, officials said.

Roadside drug tests are often inaccurate

A Florida deputy sheriff recently made national news for 80 arrests. However, rather than being celebrated for good work, it was because it was determined that many of the roadside drug tests employed by the deputy were inaccurate, which led to false arrest. It is unclear at this time whether the deputy's fault was ineptitude or faked results, but the fact is that many innocent victims ended up in jail for weeks and months because of false drug charges.

Lab analysis refutes roadside test

Governor pressing for more traffic safety measures

Governor Baker began his second term with a wide-ranging traffic safety proposal. According to the news media, the governor cited such facts as 1,820 people died and 15,662 seriously injured on the Commonwealth’s roads between 2012 and 2016. He also stated that traffic safety here in Massachusetts would be top priority. This is good news for all drivers, but those who have inconsistent driving habits will likely find the governor’s solutions for the issue a difficult pill to swallow.

Big issues include:

How can you know if your DUI traffic stop was valid?

If you are facing drunk driving charges in Massachusetts, you may think it is best to simply plead guilty and move on. In many cases, however, this is not the optimal course of action, and a strong defense strategy is an important step in a fight against any type of OUI charge. 

Law enforcement must have a valid reason to pull a driver over for suspected drunk driving. This means that it is not permissible to simply pull drivers over and have them submit to a field sobriety test or chemical test at whim. There must be a specific reason to do so. This is called reasonable suspicion. Without it, an OUI traffic stop may be invalid.

Department of justice changes law on domestic violence

The Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women has made major changes to how it defines domestic violence. These changes roll back Obama-era definitions that were expansive and decidedly favored the prosecution. The most notable change was to categorize domestic violence as a felony or misdemeanor criminal act that involves physical assault or sexual violence by an intimate partner or spouse. It may also involve a person living under the same roof or individuals who share children. It can apply to either an adult or a minor.

This eliminates such previous qualifying behaviors as:

Why you should avoid participating in field sobriety tests

After stopping off at the local hangout with your friends or co-workers, you head home. Perhaps you take a moment to consider whether you drank too much to safely drive home but determine after a self-assessment that you could.

On your way home, lights and sirens appear behind you, seemingly out of nowhere. You now wonder whether you were mistaken, but remain confident. As if on cue, the officer asks you to step out of the vehicle and participate in field sobriety tests. You've probably heard that you don't legally have to participate in these tests, but you may not be aware that there are other, more practical reasons for refusing to participate.

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