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felonies Archives

Grounds for appealing a criminal conviction or sentence

A previous blog post discussed the process of appealing a criminal conviction or sentence. If the trial court error involved the defendant's constitutional rights, the conviction would be subject to automatic reversal. Otherwise, a reversal will only be granted to defendants who can show that a harmful error occurred which affected their substantial rights. Harmless errors, ones that did not contribute to the guilty verdict, will not justify a reversal.

Appealing a criminal conviction or sentence in Massachusetts

Once defendants have been convicted, they have the right to appeal on certain grounds. In Massachusetts, a defendant may appeal in several circumstances including when new evidence was discovered that could affect the outcome of the case, evidence was improperly admitted, incorrect legal rulings or jury instructions were given or other legal errors were made that significantly impacted the outcome of the case. Generally, direct appeals are first made to the Appeals Court, after which they may proceed to the Supreme Judicial Court for further appellate review. However, in the case of a first-degree murder conviction, the case will proceed directly to the SJC.

Legal defenses to burglary and robbery

A previous blog post discussed the potential penalties for burglary and robbery and the differences between the two. Those accused of burglary or robbery should also know the legal defenses that may be asserted in response to the accusation of such a serious crime.

What is the difference between burglary and robbery?

Burglary and robbery both often involve theft, but there are several differences between the two crimes. Burglary involves the unlawful entry into a structure whereas robbery does not. Robbery involves the use of force or fear upon another person to obtain property whereas burglary does not. Both crimes carry varying penalties upon conviction depending on the circumstances of the crime.

Defending a charge of manslaughter or murder

Manslaughter and murder are two of the most serious charges that individuals face in Massachusetts. Manslaughter, or the killing of a person without premeditation, can result in legal consequences of up to 20 years in prison. Murder, or the unlawful and premeditated killing of a person, can lead to life in prison upon conviction. Defending a manslaughter or a murder charge requires a powerful defense and the assistance of a knowledgeable, skilled and experienced attorney.

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