Criminal Attorney: Sex Offense Charge

There are many collateral consequences of being charged with a sex offense under Massachusetts law.  Beyond facing the potential for a jail or state prison sentence, you will also face registration with the sex offender registry board, the potential for commitment as a sexually dangerous person, as well as GPS monitoring.  There has also been an upswing over the past few years in town residency restrictions.

Town residency restrictions are those adopted by the particular city or town that prohibit certain sex offenders, usually level 3, from residing within certain distances from schools and parks, just to name two locations.  A typical residency restriction would prohibit someone determined to be a level 3 sex offender from living within 1,000 of a school or park.

This can obviously be an onerous restriction if there are many parks within a particular town, or if the only place you can live is within 1,000 feet of a school or park.  Such a restriction could require someone to sell their home, and face significant difficulties in finding residency, all to prevent any violation of restrictions.

As residency restrictions are just one of a number of potential collateral consequences of a conviction for a sex offense, it is important to find a criminal attorney who has experience handling such cases.  Don’t hesitate, more than your freedom is on the line.

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If you are charged with a crime against another, and the alleged victim seeks a restraining order against you as well, the consequences of having the restraining order can be just as severe as the underlying criminal charge.  For instance, if you are married and your spouse has a restraining order against you, you could be ordered to stay away from your residence, and not have any contact with your spouse or your children.

Similarly, if you are unable to have any contact with your spouse, there may be issues pertaining to filing tax returns, paying bills, as well as, having access to money.  Also, if you are unable to have any contact with your spouse and you must stay away from your residence, what do you do if you are waiting for important mail that could impact employment?

Consider further that if the court determines that there is a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse, you must surrender all guns, ammunition, gun licenses, and FID cards, and any such licenses or cards are suspended immediately.  This will obviously have a huge impact on you, if your job requires you to carry a firearm.

The above-mentioned consequences are just a few considerations if you are facing a restraining order as part of a criminal case.  As a result, if you find yourself in such a position, contact a criminal attorney who will advocate for you and your livelihood.

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Criminal Attorney

            There have been many stories in the news lately involving allegations of motor vehicle homicide. If charged under Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 90 section 24G(a), where alcohol is a factor, the government must show that there was operation of  a motor vehicle, on a public way, at a time that either the person’s blood alcohol content was .08 or above, or while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.  The Commonwealth must also show that the vehicle operation was either reckless or negligent, and that death of another resulted therefrom.

If the Commonwealth is able to prove these elements, then the punishment encompasses not less than 2.5 nor more than 15 years in state prison, or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not less than 1 year, nor more than 2.5 years.   This part of the statute requires a minimum mandatory 1 year imprisonment.

If charged under Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 90 section 24G(b), the government wouldn’t have to prove impairment, or .08 or above and reckless or negligent operation.  If they prove one, and that such operation caused the death of another, then the Commonwealth has made out their case.  This subsection carries with it the penalty of imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not less than 30 days, nor more than 2.5 years, or by fine, or both.

As a result, if you find yourself facing such charges, contact a criminal attorney who will zealously advocate for you.  The penalties are too severe to take lightly.

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If you are a passenger in a stopped motor vehicle, there are three scenarios in which an order by the police to exit the vehicle is justified.  First, an exit order is justified if a reasonable person in the officer’s position would be warranted in the belief that the safety of the police or the public was in danger.  Second, if the police develop reasonable suspicion that the passenger was engaged in criminal activity separate from any offense of the driver, an exit order is justified.  Third, the police can order a passenger out of a vehicle based on probable cause to search the vehicle under the belief that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime.

As to the safety basis for a motor vehicle exit order, the court will look to whether the passenger is reaching under the seats of the passenger compartment, whether that person is cooperate, as well as the likelihood that the person’s actions are consistent with reaching for a weapon.

Additionally, if the police believe based on objective facts that the passenger is engaged in criminal activity, that person may be removed from the vehicle.  For instance, if the police approach a motor vehicle and observe cocaine within the possession of a passenger, that person may be removed immediately.

Finally, an exit order is justified if the police have probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime.  For example, if the police observe cocaine within the motor vehicle, and not specifically within the possession of any one individual, the police may order the passengers out of the motor vehicle.

As a result, if you are ordered out of a motor vehicle and charged with a crime, contact a criminal attorney today who will fight for you and your rights.  Just because you were ordered out doesn’t mean that it was legally justified.

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If you are on probation in Massachusetts state court, and you are charged with a violation, here are a few things to consider.  First of all, the standard of proof for the probation department to proceed on is much less than that required for a conviction after trial.  The standard is whether there is probable cause to believe there is a violation, and if a violation is found, the court will determine the appropriate sentence.

The sentence options for a violation will depend on the underlying disposition.  For example, if a jail sentence is suspended, and the court wants to impose incarceration, then the suspended sentence will be imposed on that count.  Similarly, if the disposition was straight probation, the court can impose up to the maximum sentence allowed under that statute.

Similarly, if you are on probation under numerous counts or indictments, then the court may give you a sentence on each count, and the sentences may be run consecutively.  As a result, agreeing to probation as part of a criminal disposition on the underlying case may seem like a good idea at the time, but it is not without inherent risk.

With this in mind, if you or someone you know is facing a probation violation in either district or superior court, contact a criminal law attorney who will fight for you.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.

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Many of you have commented on the story of the Northbridge middle school student who has been charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon as well as assault and battery against his teachers.  In order to proceed on the assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charge, which is a felony, the Commonwealth must prove that the boy touched the person of another, with the intent to touch the person of another; and where the touching was done with a dangerous weapon.

In this case, the allegation is that the dangerous weapon is a shod foot.  Under Massachusetts law, a food shod in footwear that is capable of causing injury is considered a dangerous weapon.  The essence of the charge is the touching, regardless of whether or not an injury occurs.

To prove the charge of assault and battery, which is a misdemeanor, the government must show that the boy touched the person of another, with the intent to do so, and where such touching was likely to cause bodily harm to another.  An assault and battery is a lesser included offense of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

With this in mind, if you or someone you know is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon or any crime against the person of another, contact a criminal lawyer who will fight for you.  Don’t hesitate, call today.

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Many of you have commented and have expressed interest in the case involving the Becker College student who is facing home invasion charges.  It goes without saying that home invasion is an extraordinarily serious allegation under Massachusetts law, and if a prison sentence is imposed, it carries a minimum 20 year sentence.  As more and more home invasion allegations are being brought forward, it is important to focus on what the government must show in order to prove a home invasion charge.

To prove a home invasion under Massachusetts law, the Commonwealth must show: entry upon the dwelling house of another; at a time that the defendant knew or had reason to know that someone was present in the dwelling; while armed with a dangerous weapon upon entry; and finally that force was used upon any person within the dwelling, or any person within was threatened with the use of force, or injury was caused to any person within the dwelling.

The key element that separates a home invasion from other charges is being armed with a dangerous weapon upon entry into the dwelling.  A dangerous weapon is any instrument that by nature of its construction or the manner of its use is capable of causing grievous bodily injury or death or would be perceived by a reasonable person as capable of such injury.  The definition of a dangerous weapon also includes any instrument or instrumentality which, because of the manner it is used or is attempted to be used, endangers the life or inflicts great bodily injury, or that is calculated as likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.

As a result, if you or someone you know is facing a home invasion allegation, don’t take a potential 20 year prison sentence lightly.  Contact a criminal lawyer today who will fight for you and who will attack the Commonwealth’s case.

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If you are arrested for certain specified drug offenses under Massachusetts law, and these offenses occur within 300 feet of a school zone between the hours of 5 a.m. and midnight, there is an enhanced penalty under Massachusetts law.  If found in violation of the statute and given a house of correction sentence, the punishment is for not less than 2 years nor more than 2.5.

If sent to the state prison, the sentence is for not less than 2.5 years, and for not more than 15 years.  Any sentence under the school zone statute is to run on and after the sentence for the underlying drug case.

It is important to note, however, that the school zone statute was recently amended by the legislature within the past year, changing the distance required to be found in violation under the statute from 1,000 to 300 feet, and abolishing any potential violations between the hours of 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.  This highlights the legislature’s intent that the statute be tailored to drug cases occurring in very close proximity to a school, at a time when there is a possibility that a school activity may be taking place.

Even with the legislature’s tightening up of the distance and time requirements under the statute, if you or someone you know is charged with such a violation, contact a criminal law attorney who will fight for you and who will challenge the Commonwealth’s evidence.

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Many of you have commented on the Leominster man that is charged with armed robbery after allegedly using a knife in a store robbery last weekend.  In general, the government may prove an armed robbery if they show that an individual was armed with a dangerous weapon; that he applied actual force or violence to the body of the alleged victim, or put the alleged victim in fear by threatening words or gestures; that he took money or other property from the alleged victim with the intent to steal it; and that he took the property from the possession or immediate control of the alleged victim.

An often litigated issue in armed robbery cases is whether the item qualifies as a dangerous weapon.  The term “dangerous weapon” under the armed robbery statute is a term of art and it includes any instrument that by the nature of its construction or the manner of its use is capable of causing grievous bodily injury or death, or could be perceived by a reasonable person as capable of such injury.  This would include obvious examples such as firearms and knives, yet it would also include a pencil, if someone held it in their hand and was perceived as willing to stab another with it.

Another often litigated issue is whether or not it has to be shown by the Commonwealth that the person charged actually possessed a dangerous weapon, or whether it is sufficient that the alleged victim perceived the defendant as having a dangerous weapon.  The case law is conflicting in this area, yet it seems likely that the court will allow the charge to stand if it is perceived that the defendant has a dangerous weapon, and it isn’t specifically shown that his possession of such a weapon was impossible.

As a result, if you or someone you know is charged with armed robbery, there may be substantial defenses to explore.  Go with a criminal attorney who will fight for you and your rights.

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As many of you might have seen in the media lately, there has been an upswing in the number of home invasions across the county.  To prove a home invasion under Massachusetts law, the Commonwealth must show: entry upon the dwelling house of another; at a time that the defendant knew or had reason to know that someone was present in the dwelling; while armed with a dangerous weapon upon entry; and finally that force was used upon any person within the dwelling, or any person within was threatened with the use of force, or injury was caused to any person within the dwelling.

To qualify as a dwelling, the Commonwealth must show that the premises were presently a place for the living and habitation of persons other than the defendant.  Similarly, to qualify as a dangerous weapon under the home invasion statute, the Commonwealth must show that the item is an instrument that by its nature of construction or the manner of its use is capable of causing grievous bodily injury or death, or would be perceived by a reasonable person as capable of such injury.  The definition of dangerous weapon also includes any instrument which, because of its manner of use, endangers the life or inflicts great bodily injury.  This could include a pencil if intended as a weapon.

The home invasion statute also carries with it a sentence of not less than 20 years in state prison and up to life.  As a result, home invasion is a very serious allegation, and you should choose among the criminal law attorneys who will fight for you and your rights.

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