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Boston Criminal Defense Law Blog

3 reasons to fight criminal charges in Massachusetts

When you face criminal charges, you probably want the easiest way out of the situation. Does that mean pleading guilty and accepting the consequences to avoid lengthy court trials and high legal fees? Does it mean not bothering to face minor misdemeanors because they are not worth it? Maybe you think that because you are innocent, you have no need to worry.

As you decide on how to respond, be aware of how criminal convictions, or even just an arrest, can affect various aspects of your life. It may not seem fair, but even a petty offense can lead to long-term consequences you did not think of. If you doubt the value of fighting your criminal charges, take a look at the impact they will have on just these three areas.

Federal crimes include sex crimes

The laws of Massachusetts define several kinds of conduct as sex crimes, including sexual conduct with a minor, sexual assault, child molestation and numerous others. Generally, most offenses involving sexual misconduct fall within the jurisdictions of the individual states. Nevertheless, federal law also defines a number of offenses as sex crimes. Some offenses on the list of federal crimes overlap or duplicate sex crimes enumerated by the Commonwealth, but some are unique to federal law.

Sexual offenses committed in a United States territory or in a federal prison are subject only to federal jurisdiction. Sexual offenders who cross state or international borders may also be guilty of a federal sex crime.

What is probable cause?

One of the most frequently used phrases in criminal law is "probable cause." In Massachusetts, probable cause is necessary to arrest someone, conduct a search without a warrant, detain a person arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime or to obtain a search warrant. The rule applies to both felonies and misdemeanors.

While the definition of the term may vary slightly from state to state, all definitions can be traced to the use of the term in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects the people from unreasonable searches and seizures of their property. To prove that the search or seizure is reasonable, the Fourth Amendment states, the police must typically have a warrant supported by probable cause.

Giving in to peer pressure can lead to criminal charges

If you have a teenager living with you in Boston, it may remind you of the challenges you faced as an adolescent. Teens deal with peer pressure and external influences that can make it hard to avoid making bad decisions. They are young and impressionable, and still have a lot to learn about the world. It is not uncommon for what appear to be innocent jokes and pranks to become incidents that result in juvenile criminal charges

It is important for you to stress to your teen that everything that seems like fun is not legal. Some of these actions may have serious ramifications that can follow teens for the rest of their lives. The immediate consequences often include expulsion from high school and disqualification from scholarships, financial aid and employment opportunities. 

Understanding sex offender registration laws

Many people in Massachusetts realize that the state has a sex offender registration act, but few understand its mechanics. The United States Department of Justice also maintains a sex offender registration list, but the existence of this list and how it may be accessed are very poorly understood.

Both statutes are intended to provide information to the public about the residence and other pertinent information concerning a convicted sex offender after he or she is released from prison. Convicted sex offenders can face penalties ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony if they fail to provide accurate and current information to whether ever list they may be on.

Can a defendant's past crime be introduced into evidence?

A common question asked by criminal defendants with histories of prior criminal activity is whether evidence of a prior crime can be used to prove guilt. For example, a person who is accused of felony drug charges may have been convicted of a similar crime on a prior occasion. Can that earlier conviction be used to prove that the defendant committed the crime for which he or she is being tried?

The answer lies in the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence, a compilation of the law of evidence in the

How a domestic violence charge/conviction can change your life

If you are accused of assaulting a roommate, family member or romantic partner in Boston, chances are you have a lot of questions on your mind. One of them may concern how a domestic violence charge can affect your life. Whether the allegations are true or not, you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Do not assume your presumed innocence is enough to keep the charge from having an impact on your life. Being accused of a crime often leads to an arrest, and the arrest gives you a criminal record that will follow you all throughout your life. Take some time to consider the additional ways a domestic violence accusation can change your life. 

Massachusetts court refines felony murder rule

The English common law has given courts in the United States, both local and federal, many doctrines that are routinely applied in criminal and civil cases. One of the oldest and best known of such rules is the felony murder rule. The rule states that anyone who participates in a felony during which a person is killed is guilty of first degree murder. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently issued an opinion in which it prospectively narrowed the definition of a felony murder.

The case in question involved a defendant who assisted in the planning of a robbery but was not present when two victims were shot to death. The defendant supplied a gun and sweatshirts to the burglars. The defendant appealed from his conviction on two counts of first degree murder, arguing that the trial court's application of the felony murder rule to him was overly broad and unfair. The appellate court agreed and announced new standards for application of the rule.

Helping defendants charged with felonies in Massachusetts

Those defending against a felony charge in Massachusetts face varying punishments depending on the nature of their offense. A conviction for any felony carries serious consequences such as prison time and fines. For example, if convicted of felony drug charges, defendants may be required to serve up to 20 years in prison and pay a $25,000 fine, depending on the type and quantity of drug in their case.

Massachusetts defendants may also be subject to living with the stigma of being a convicted felon which can influence many aspects of their lives such as securing housing and being accepted into college. At J.W. Carney, Jr. and Associates, we are dedicated to fighting for the best possible outcome in each case so that hopefully, defendants do not have to suffer these consequences. Our knowledgeable, experienced defense lawyers zealously advocate to protect our clients' rights and quality of life.

What is at stake for high schoolers caught with drugs?

All parents want to imagine that their son or daughter is a responsible and law-abiding young adult. When this proves not to be the case, it can be shocking, to say the least. High schoolers are often susceptible to peer pressure and the pressures of growing up, so youthful indiscretions are hardly uncommon. What happens, though, when law enforcement catches high schoolers with drugs?

According to the Washington Post, many high schoolers admit to trying drugs, but the consequences can often be disproportionately harsh. There is a lot at stake, in fact, for high schoolers who fall into drug use. There are a few things all parents should know if their child is caught in possession of illegal drugs.

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