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Boston Criminal Defense Law Blog

What is the National Sex Offender Public Registry?

All fifty states, including Massachusetts, require convicted sex offenders to provide certain information about their current residence, employment and related life information. The purpose of compiling this information is to allow members of the public to check up on sex offenders who may have moved into their neighborhood or have begun working for a local employer after being convicted of a sex crime in another jurisdiction.

The National Sex Offender Public Registry was established in 2005 to permit people to search sex offender registries in different states. The NSOPR was deemed necessary because sex offenders often moved to a state where their names were not registered and then committed another sex crime, thereby defeating the purpose of the state's sex offender registry program. The NSOPR has now become the National Sex Offender Public Website, an Internet based database that allows the public to search sex offender registries in each of the fifty states and tribal and territorial governments.

What is a computer crime in Massachusetts?

Computers have infiltrated the lives of almost everyone who lives in Massachusetts, and the English language has consequently incorporated new verbs and nouns -- spam, viruses, malware, identify theft and hacking, to name a few. Despite the advantages of living in the digital age, a few malefactors have found ways to subvert computers to in order to commit a crime. The Massachusetts legislature has responded by identifying certain computer actions as felonies.

The defining element in the Massachusetts computer crime statute is "intent to defraud." Anyone who commits any of several enumerated acts with fraudulent intent is guilty of a computer crime and may be subject to imprisonment for up to two-and-a-half years and a fine of $3,000. Specific crimes include obtaining access to a commercial computer system, using a computer as part of a scheme to defraud and using or modifying data on a computer system.

What is a 'terroristic threat' in Massachusetts?

Ever since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, many states, including Massachusetts, have passed laws making "terroristic threats" a crime. Prior to passage of such laws, the actual use of guns, explosives and biological agents was covered by the general criminal laws of the states. Now, however, the making of threats to cause violence, whether or not the violence actually occurs, is a serious felony.

The crime of "terroristic threat" is defined as the willful communication of a threat (1) that a rifle, machine gun, an explosive or incendiary device, a dangerous biologic agent or any of several other substances capable of causing death or serious bodily injury is present or will be used at a specified place or location; or (2) that an aircraft, ship or common carrier will be hijacked, thereby causing anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort.

Federal crimes: what is conspiracy under federal law?

Most people in Massachusetts understand that a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to engage in criminal conduct. But what, exactly, is a federal conspiracy? The answer is both simple and complex.

The United States Criminal Code states that "If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy," each member of the conspiracy shall be imprisoned for not more than five years. Oddly, the central concept of the statute -- conspiracy -- is not defined. Other federal statutes define a conspiracy with respect to specific crimes in much the same way.

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.

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