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When a night out turns into a fight, what should you do?

You’re out with your friends, having some drinks at a bar. It’s getting later and later, and you’re knocking back a few more beverages. So are the people around you, and the atmosphere is getting rowdy. One thing leads to another and before you know it, you are in an altercation with another patron. The situation escalates into physical blows—and that’s when you see the flashing lights of the police car.

A fun night out with friends has somehow evolved into a fight… and you could be facing criminal charges. In a situation like this, what should you do?

Implied consent doesn't mean you can't challenge a breath test

When you obtained a Massachusetts driver's license, you consented to submit to a breath test if requested by a member of law enforcement. If you refuse, you could face consequences, such as a suspended driver's license. Whether you decide to submit to the test is a personal decision, but you should know that you have options.

The implied consent law doesn't preclude you from challenging the results of the breath test if it showed that you were intoxicated. Those readings provided the officer who administered the test with probable cause to arrest you. What you may not know is that breath-testing machines don't always provide accurate results.

What to know about plea bargains

Thousands of criminal cases go through the United States criminal justice system every year. If you are a defendant in one of these cases, you have a few options when it comes to entering your plea. You could plead not guilty, proceeding to trial and hoping to successfully defend your case. You could plead guilty, thereby avoiding a trial but possibly receiving a harsh sentence.

There is a third option that you may not know about: You could enter a plea bargain.

What are some common theft defenses?

Being charged with a crime is never pleasant. Neither is going to court. If you have been charged with theft, a trial may very well be in your future. If you are convicted, you could face serious legal consequences that affect you for a long time.

Still, it is possible to defend against criminal charges of theft. The right legal defense can be a powerful weapon in your corner. Even if the evidence points against you, the right strategy could help you and your attorney defend your case. Here are some common types of theft defenses:

What is the difference between assault and battery?

We often hear the terms “assault and battery” together— used in common speech, reported on the news, and discussed regarding criminal charges. The two crimes may seem similar at first, and that is partially because some states frequently charge one offense in conjunction with the other. Assault and battery, however, are two separate crimes that have different definitions.

There can be serious legal penalties for both crimes. If you are facing charges of assault, battery or both, it is important to fully understand the distinctions between the two.

What is in the Massachusetts criminal justice reform bills?

Late last month, the Massachusetts senate passed a sweeping criminal justice reform bill. The House has now followed with its version. In order for criminal justice reform to become law, the two halves of the legislature will have to agree on a final version, pass it, and send it to Governor Baker for his signature.

What reforms are being considered? They hit on a number of topics, including adjusting sentencing for a variety of offenses, increasing the use of diversion programs, and making the system fairer for people of modest means. MassLive put together an excellent comparison between the two bills. Here are some highlights:

The factors that can affect your OUI-related license suspension

Drunk driving charges of any kind are serious, and Massachusetts drivers accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol could face serious penalties if convicted. However, there are certain factors that could make the stakes even higher, increasing the penalties associated with your OUI, specifically the length of the license suspension.

The cost of a criminal conviction is high, no matter the details of your individual case. Whatever you are up against, you would be wise to take your situation seriously and fight for the best possible outcome for your individual situation. When charged with an OUI, it is prudent to take quick action to build a strong defense.

Report: State crime lab withheld pro-defense evidence in OUI cases

A report by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety found that the State Police Office of Alcohol Testing routinely failed to provide pro-defense information to defendants' attorneys as is required by the law and constitution.

The 126-page report states that the Office of Alcohol Testing "made serious errors in judgment" during the discovery phase of criminal trials. During this phase, the prosecution is required to provide notice of its entire case, along with any evidence they have that could help the defense's case.

DOJ announces voluntary limits on gag orders after email warrants

Last year, Microsoft sued the federal government over its practice of routinely issuing gag orders when it presented warrants for emails. According to an 18-month analysis by Microsoft, the Department of Justice issued indefinite gag orders under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 in 68 percent of cases where it served warrants on Microsoft for customer emails. These indefinite gag orders require Microsoft and other companies to remain silent about the warrant until further notice, or forever.

In its lawsuit, Microsoft alleged that this practice violated its First Amendment right to communicate honestly with its customers. It also claimed that the practice violated its customers' Fourth Amendment right to know when the government has searched or seized their property.

Study: Hiring an OUI defense lawyer could actually pay for itself

Being convicted of OUI in Massachusetts can really cost you. Even a first-time OUI can mean jail time, a minimum fine of $500, the loss of your driver's license for a year, a permanent police record and more. The penalties are higher for those under 21, if you refuse the breath test, or if you are found guilty of OUI more than once.

The legal penalties are substantial, but you're also facing a sharp increase in your auto insurance rates. A recent study by the online insurance comparison site QuoteWizard found that, on average, being convicted of a first-time OUI increases your insurance by $4,000 over five years.

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