Call Our Attorneys 617-830-6760
J. W. Carney, Jr. and Associates

felonies Archives

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Four grounds for appeal based on harmful error

A previous blog post discussed the process of appealing a criminal conviction or sentence in Massachusetts. Harmless errors - or ones that do not affect the substantial rights of the defendant - will not justify reversal. To justify reversal, the error must have been a harmful error affecting the substantial rights of the defendant.

Felony drug charges: school zone violations

In Massachusetts, possession with intent to distribute is a felony drug charge, regardless of the type of drug the defendant is accused of having. Those convicted of possession with intent to distribute may face up to two years in jail for a first offense. Second and subsequent offenses may carry more serious sentences depending on the type of drug and circumstances of the case. Those accused of selling or intending to distribute drugs in a school zone may be subject to sentence enhancement.

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.

Email Us For A Response

Charged With A Crime? Get The Strong Defense You Need.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

J. W. Carney, Jr. and Associates
20 Park Plaza
Suite 1405
Boston, MA 02116

Phone: 617-830-6760
Fax: 617-338-5587
Map & Directions