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:

Breaking & Entering: Definition by Worcester Criminal Defense Lawyer

Breaking and Entering in the Nighttime

There are various locations that the crime of breaking and entering in the nighttime can be committed in Massachusetts, according to Worcester criminal defense lawyer Shane W. Surrette. Some of these locations include buildings, houses, vehicles, boats and other vessels, just to name a few.  The essential elements include breaking, which is more than just smashing a door to enter a residence. Breaking also covers opening an unlocked door, going through an open window not intended as an entrance, as well as removing a screen to enter a building.

Additionally, there has to be an entry. This is accomplished by physically entering a  building. Similarly, an entry can be accomplished by controlling an item that goes inside the structure, even if you don’t personally enter. For example, opening a car door, and using a stick to sift around the interior is sufficient to cover the elements of breaking and entering.

The third element, which is the most significant under Massachusetts law, is the intent that is alleged. If the allegation is a breaking and entering with the intent to commit a misdemeanor therein, than the crime is a misdemeanor. If however, the intent is to commit a felony, than the charge is a felony.

In the absence of an expressed intent to commit a particular crime in either a complaint or indictment, the jury may infer that there is an intent to commit a larceny therein. The final element is that the breaking and entering has to occur in the nighttime. Nighttime under Mass. law is defined as one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise.

To read more about the recent local break-ins, click the following link: http://www.telegram.com/article/20120822/NEWS/108229937/1101/local

Worcester MA Criminal Lawyer: Who Has Access to Your Criminal Record?

A common concern of those charged with criminal offenses in Massachusetts, is to what level and extent will potential employers be able to access their criminal record information. Ultimately, the answer will depend on the nature of the job you are applying for (with jobs  involving hospitals, the elderly and children allowing for broader access) however, there are some basics.

For example, most employers will be able to get standard access to criminal record information, according to Worcester MA criminal lawyer Shane W. Surrette. This information includes pending cases, such as continuances without a finding, and misdemeanor convictions under five years old.  Similarly, felony convictions less than ten years old are available for standard access by the employer. (Note: The employer will have permanent access for convictions of certain crimes, such as sex offenses).

Beyond pending cases, however, employers will not have access to information not resulting in a conviction. For instance, a continuance without a finding that was dismissed is not available to the employer in most cases.

Furthermore, when we discuss standard access to criminal record information during the interview process, an employer may ask about an applicant’s history of convictions, but may not inquire about arrests not resulting in convictions. Similarly, during the interview process an employer may not ask about misdemeanor convictions more than five years old.

While the above restrictions apply to employers seeking criminal offender information from the state, employers may, however, choose to access criminal offender information from a private credit reporting agency. Such checks are very broad in scope and allow for information obtained from any public source.

With these standards and possibilities of inspection and inquiry by employers in place, it is now more important than ever to speak with your attorney and do your best to avoid convictions. For any questions regarding criminal matters, please contact attorney Shane W. Surrette below:

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