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Boston Criminal Defense Law Blog

Laws against furnishing alcohol to minors

The legal drinking age in Massachusetts and around the United States is 21. That means if you supply alcohol to individuals under the age of 21, you could face misdemeanor charges

Massachusetts has the Social Host Law, which states knowingly providing alcohol to people under the age of 21 who are not your children is a punishable offense. There is an exception to this law stating parents and legal guardians can provide alcohol to a minor under their own roofs. That means parents could allow their underage children to have a sip of champagne or wine and would not face criminal charges. However, providing alcohol to anyone else will result in serious consequences. 

College hearings lack procedural safeguards

College students do not lose their constitutional and legal rights when they enter their freshman year and step forth on campus. However, a students' rights group gave a failing grade to colleges for the protections it affords students in college campus disciplinary hearings in a report it issued last year.

Due process and other rights, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, have not kept pace with the increased enforcement duties undertaken by colleges in areas such as sexual assault, illegal drugs and underage drinking. It reviewed 53 universities across the country along with several Massachusetts colleges.

What juveniles need to know about expungement in Massachusetts

The brains of young people are still developing, but in spite of their mental and emotional immaturity, they may make mistakes that follow them for years after they become adults. If those mistakes result in a conviction, the criminal record can affect where young people live, whether they go to college and what jobs are open to them. 

Recent changes to the law mean there is good news for many young people with criminal records in Massachusetts. Beginning October 1st, certain records may be eligible for expungement.

Drug charges shouldn't derail a student's life

College is a time of great academic pursuits and personal growth. Between studying for exams, discovering a path in life, and creating lifelong relationships, there is a huge amount of pressure and expectation placed on students. Sometimes, this pressure may contribute to making decisions that aren't necessarily in the best interest of the student, such as taking drugs. These decisions, however, shouldn't completely derail a student's momentum in life.

At J. W. Carney, Jr., we understand that college isn't just a time for academic and personal growth but also a time to make mistakes and learn from them. Taking drugs may be one of those mistakes and it is certainly not to be taken lightly. But we don't believe a student should be kept from reaching their full potential because of one bad choice.

Never waive your Miranda rights

As a college or graduate student in the Boston area, you and your friends likely have seen your fair share of “cop shows,” both at the movies and on TV. You therefore probably have heard various iterations of the Miranda warning many times. What may never have occurred to you, however, especially if you have never experienced a run-in with law enforcement officers, is that this warning is for your benefit, too.

The Miranda warning stems from the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona back in 1966. It consists of the following four parts

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to an attorney.
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

Do not let one mistake dictate your future

Going to college in the Boston area is a big responsibility. Though you may relish the fact that you are no longer under your parents’ direct supervision and are able to make your own decisions, you must be careful about the choices you make. Your age and innocence do not give you a pass to break the law. As a freshman student, you are at the threshold of adulthood and subject to many of the same penalties that grown adults who break the law must face. 

It is essential for you to consider the consequences of any situation before you act so you can avoid running afoul of the law. Here are some pointers to consider if you ever find yourself dealing with criminal charges from a college mistake: 

Understanding first and second degree murder in Massachusetts

Murder is perhaps the most serious criminal charge that can be leveled at a person. Most residents of Massachusetts understand that murder is the crime of intentionally killing another human being. Less well understood is the difference between first and second degree murder.

An act that leads to the death of another person must be committed with intent to injure or kill in order to be considered either first or second degree murder. Conviction for the felony of first degree murder requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an unlawful killing occurred, that the defendant had formed the intent to kill before committing the murderous act known as premeditation and acted intentionally to inflict serious bodily harm or death on the victim known as malice aforethought.

How do federal grand juries work?

Today's media is filled with references to grand juries, especially the grand juries that are hearing evidence presented by special counsel, Robert Mueller. Even with all this news coverage, few Massachusetts residents outside of the legal profession understand the function of grand juries.

Grand juries are used in federal criminal cases to decide if available evidence shows "probable cause" to believe that a crime has been committed. The Fifth Amendment states, "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury." Thus, a grand jury indictment is a necessary starting point for a federal criminal prosecution.

Can you drive under the influence of a prescription medication?

Your doctor recently prescribed a popular sleep aid to help you cope with insomnia. For the past few days, you've slept better, although you still feel groggy in the mornings. Your cup of coffee hasn't yet taken the edge off your drowsiness as you head to work, and before you know it, a police officer pulls you over for crossing the center line. You and other Massachusetts residents may be aware of the potential dangers of driving with a drug in your system that causes sleepiness, but you might not realize that you can also face OUI charges.

What are the consequences of school bullying in Massachusetts?

Adults have legal recourse if someone harasses, discriminates against or physically assaults them at work or in public. Like many parents in Massachusetts, you would want the same protections for your children. Also like many parents, you understand that kids do not always follow the rules or realize that there can be serious consequences for hurting someone else.

According to the Massachusetts Legislature, schools prohibit bullying across the state. However, as you may realize, this behavior continues in most schools. Common bullying types in middle and high school include the following:

  • Physical bullying – threatening, intimidating or physically harming another student
  • Emotional bullying – taunting, belittling and ostracizing the other person
  • Social media bullying – sending harassing, threatening or degrading messages through text messages, email or social media platforms
  • Food allergy bullying – teasing the target for his or her food allergies or exposing the allergic student to a known allergen
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