New Marijuana Law: by Worcester MA Criminal Lawyer

The New Medical Marijuana Law and Its Impact on Criminal Cases

Something that a lot of people are interested in is question 3 on the ballot this November is legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. As referenced in the proposed question is that marijuana can be prescribed for you if you have an underlying medical condition. Of course if you don’t have a prescription and you are in possession of over an ounce of marijuana, you can still be charged with criminal possession, according to Worcester MA criminal lawyer Shane W. Surrette.

Similarly, if you are stopped in a car for a motor vehicle infraction, and the only observation by police is the odor of burnt marijuana, the police may not order you out of the vehicle, or search the vehicle based on that odor alone under Massachusetts law. The police may, however, order you out of a vehicle or conduct a search thereof if they believe you are operating while under the influence of marijuana.

Furthermore, if someone is charged with operating under the influence of marijuana and he/she has a prescription for that marijuana, a question that may arise at trial under the new law is whether they had knowledge that their use of marijuana in any amount would reduce their mental-clarity, self-control and reflexes so that their ability to operate safely was impaired. For example, does the prescription clearly indicate that if someone consumes any amount of marijuana such use may impact their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle? The government will likely argue that marijuana is similar to alcohol in that the effects are well known. The problem with such an argument is that doctors don’t prescribe alcohol.

Of course the question will have to pass first before this and similar questions will have to be answered in the court system. If, however, you have been charged with a criminal drug offense, contact an experienced Worcester Ma criminal lawyer at the link below:

Motor Vehicle Homicide Charges: Defined by Criminal Attorney

Worcester Man Facing Motor Vehicle Homicide Charges for Accident at Franklin and Grafton Streets in Worcester

Of concern to the public is a motor vehicle collision the other night at Franklin and Grafton Streets in Worcester causing the death of a Worcester man.  Another Worcester resident is facing motor vehicle homicide charges as a result of the accident.  Motor vehicle homicide charges have different consequences under Massachusetts law, depending on the particular section that the police charge under, according to criminal attorney Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA.

For instance, the operable statute is Mass. General laws chapter 90 section 24G.  Section 24G(a) is the felony branch of the statute and it requires a showing that the person charged operated his/her motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or with a blood alcohol content of .08 or above, and in a negligent or reckless manner, and by such operation caused the death of another.  This section calls for a minimum mandatory sentence of one year to the house of correction.

If charged under section 24G(b), the misdemeanor branch of the statute, the Commonwealth may proceed on this charge by showing either that the individual operated his/her motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or with a blood alcohol content of .08 or above, or in a reckless or negligent manner, and by such operation caused the death of another.  Under this branch of the stature there is no minimum mandatory jail sentence.

As a result, which section you are charged under will determine what the Commonwealth must prove, as well as, whether or not there is a mandatory sentence.

Negligent Motor Vehicle Operation, by Criminal Lawyer Surrette

Worcester City Bus Driver Involved in Pedestrian Fatality

There has been much discussion recently about a seventy year old city bus driver being involved in a pedestrian fatality last month in Worcester. Much has also been made of prior citations against the bus driver. The main issue in this matter, as with any case involving either negligent motor vehicle homicide, or negligent operation in general, is whether the Commonwealth can show that the operator of the vehicle drove in a manner that a reasonable person would not have, under the circumstances that the operator found himself, according to criminal lawyer Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA.

Many factors become relevant in any case involving either negligent operation of a motor vehicle or negligent motor vehicle homicide.  For instance, in determining whether someone drove negligently in a manner that might have endangered the public, a jury should take into account the facts of the situation, including the driver’s rate of speed and manner of operation, his/her physical condition, how well he/she could see and control the vehicle, as well as, what other vehicles and pedestrians were doing at the same time.

The factors mentioned above are just a few of the considerations that a jury will be instructed to consider in any criminal case involving either negligent operation of a motor vehicle, or negligent motor vehicle homicide under Massachusetts law. What is important to remember in any negligent operation case is that there has to enough evidence to satisfy a probable cause determination of negligence before a criminal charge will even be justified.

When Facing Drug Charges-What to Do, by Worcester Criminal Lawyer

Worcester County Firefighter Charged With Theft of a Drug and

Obtaining Drugs by Fraud

A Princeton, Massachusetts firefighter was arraigned the other day in Worcester Central District Court on one count of larceny of a drug, and one count of obtaining drugs by fraud. Any Worcester area citizen has to be concerned where such a person in a position of power and trust is charged in such a manner. What is important to remember, however, is that the firefighter is innocent until proven guilty, according to Worcester criminal lawyer Shane W. Surrette.

The idea of innocence until being proven guilty is often dispelled with in society today, as we often adopt sensational allegations and leave it up to the person being charged to disprove the allegations.  While larceny of a drug and obtaining drugs by fraud are serious charges, as are any drug offenses, we as a society must remain vigilant not to condemn those charged with criminal offenses, and we must allow the court process to take its course.

As drug offenses can affect any segment of the population, as the Princeton case highlights, if you or someone you love is faced with possessing, stealing, or intending to distribute drugs, don’t go at it alone. Contact an experienced criminal lawyer who has tried drug cases in both the Superior and District Courts.

For more information, please contact Attorney Surrette by clinking the link below:

Holiday Drinking Advice, by Worcester Criminal Lawyer

What is Important to Keep in Mind When Drinking Alcohol and Driving a

Car Over the Holiday Season

As Thanksgiving is approaching, it is the time of year for homecoming parties and renewing old friendships. For many this will include consuming alcohol at the local bar scene with those you haven’t seen in a while. If you are consuming alcohol and subsequently get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, it is important to remember that there are going to be more police officers on the road during this time of year.

According to criminal lawyer Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA, these additional officers will be looking for drivers that they suspect are under the influence of alcohol.  Being under the influence under Massachusetts law doesn’t mean you have to be drunk or unconscious. The standard is if the alcohol you consume reduces your mental-clarity, self-control, and reflexes, thereby reducing your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Read literally, any impairment at all will suffice under Massachusetts law.

With this in mind, you don’t have to be swerving all over the road to be stopped by police and suspected of operating under the influence. For instance, the police may stop a motor vehicle for committing any motor vehicle infraction, such as speeding. As soon as the officer then smells the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the interior of the vehicle, the scenario is going to turn into a suspicion for operating under the influence.

What is important to remember at this time is to remain calm and polite to the officer as he/she is watching your every move.  Also, as the police will inevitably ask you to perform field sobriety tests, it is crucial to note that you are not obligated to perform such tests, and under Massachusetts law, any refusal to perform these tests can’t be used against you at trial. 

It must be stated, however, that without such tests, the officer is going to have to make a decision on whether he/she believes you are impaired based on all other observations. In this scenario, the police will generally err on the side of caution and arrest, as the standard to arrest is much less than that needed for a conviction at trial.

The up side, however, is that being arrested for operating under the influence doesn’t guarantee a conviction. Your most important decision at this time is to hire an experienced Worcester OUI Attorney to expose the government’s case and fight for you at trial.

For more information, contact criminal lawyer Surrette at the link below:

DUI Attorney: What Does OUI Mean?

What Does it Mean to Operate a Motor Vehicle in Order to be Charged with OUI under Mass. Law

In order to be found guilty of operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor under Massachusetts law, the Commonwealth must prove that an individual has operated a motor vehicle on a public way at a time his/her ability to operate safely has been impaired by alcohol, or with a blood alcohol level of .08 or above.  All elements are of equal importance, and an overabundance of one element does not make up for a deficiency in another, according to dui attorney Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA.

For example, the government must prove that the person has operated a motor vehicle. Operation is a term of art and has been defined as, “intentionally manipulating some mechanical or electrical part of the vehicle, which alone or in sequence, will set the vehicle in motion.”

With this in mind, consider the situation where two people are intoxicated and are walking around outside a motor vehicle that was involved in a crash, where such vehicle came to rest on a public way.  What will the police look for in determining who the operator of the motor vehicle was?

Beyond an admission to operation, which is insufficient without corroboration to support a conviction, the police will look to a variety of factors to support their belief that a certain person operated the motor vehicle in the example provided above.  For instance, the police will look to see who has the keys to the vehicle, who owns the vehicle, if either party agrees to field sobriety tests, and any additional evidence that may corroborate an opinion that a certain person operated the motor vehicle. In appropriate cases, this may even include DNA testing where blood and/or saliva are left within the driver’s seat area.

As a result, it is important to remember that the Commonwealth has to prove all three elements beyond a reasonable doubt to support a conviction for operating under the influence under Mass. law. Even if intoxication and public way can be shown, the government still has to prove to a moral certainty that the person charged has in fact operated the motor vehicle. If you or someone you know has been charged with OUI where the police discovered you outside of a motor vehicle, contact an experienced Worcester OUI Attorney who will fight for you.

What to do When Arrested for OUI, by Worcester DUI Attorney



If you are arrested for operating under the influence, the police are watching you as they place you in and remove you from the cruiser, and as they begin the booking process. They are making observations in order to gather more evidence to support a conviction for operating under the influence, according to dui attorney Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA.

The police are looking to gather evidence because their opinion of operating under the influence is just an opinion. Consider for example, the officer who testifies that the citizen is staggering and highly intoxicated, yet is able to enter and exit the cruiser without difficulty, and is further able to appropriately answer routing booking questions.

These observations could completely undercut an officer’s opinion of operating under the influence. The converse is also true if the police claim the person had difficulty getting in and out of the cruiser, as well as an inability in answering booking questions.

What is important to remember in such a situation if you are arrested for operating under the influence is not to panic, to be respectful of the police, and to try to answer all booking questions to the best of your ability. Once you do this, your next decision should be to hire a Worcester OUI attorney with experience in dealing with and questioning the police.

To find out more information, contact DUI Attorney Surrette below:

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