Several times each week and sometimes multiple times in a day I am in a court in Massachusetts representing a client at his arraignment. This proceeding is so familiar to me that I often take for granted that my clients will know what to expect and how the arraignment process in Massachusetts works. In truth, unless you have been involved in the criminal legal process in the past you probably don’t know what will happen at this hearing. This post examines the process and what you should expect on the day of your arraignment. Continue reading →
If you fail to appear in court when scheduled to do so you will be defaulted. This may or may not be your fault but regardless you can assume that if you are in default an arrest warrant has issued. So naturally, when you finally do appear in court you can expect that the issue of bail will arise and you will have to convince a judge to release you or to set an affordable, modest bail. Default warrants and bail hearings in Massachusetts go hand in hand. This article looks at some issues associated with both and how you can help yourself when you are in default on a criminal case. Continue reading →
One of the questions I am asked by people who expect to be charged with a crime is the amount of bail they will have to post once the case gets filed. The answer varies from case to case and from person to person. The answer to this question also depends on the judge hearing the bail argument, the district attorney prosecuting the case and the county where the case will be prosecuted. There are no formulas for setting bail in Massachusetts. I was recently retained on two very different rape cases and the amount of bail set pleasantly surprised both of these clients. Each asked me “is there a standard bail for rape cases in Massachusetts”. This post explores this issue. Continue reading →
One of the things Massachusetts criminal defense attorneys have to consider when doing an arraignment is the potential issue of bail. Many prosecutors know very little about the cases their cases at the arraignment stage; particularly in the district courts. They arrive at work just before 9:00 a.m. and receive a stack of files. They review the police reports, often superficially, and look at the criminal record of the accused. Then, often without any investigation or contact with the alleged victim they request bail. Judges in the district courts, often fearful of bad publicity, set a bail. If the defendant has no immediate access to that amount of money, or will not ever be able to post that amount of bail they will ask their lawyer: How can I get my bail reduced? Here is the process and a recent case showing that all is not hopeless. Continue reading →
Arrests for serious crimes are likely to trigger requests for bail. This is true not just in Massachusetts but in every state. Bail orders are set in various situations. Bail orders depend on the severity of the crime charged and other things more fully discussed below in this post. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 276 Section 58 sets out the procedure for most bail matters. Initial orders of bail that are set in court are matters that should be handled by an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If not handled properly there is a chance that you can be held in jail. This post looks at the time and manner when bail is usually addressed.
As a rule, bail in Massachusetts is set by a clerk, an assistant clerk or a judge. Clerk’s and assistant clerk’s set bail after a person is arrested and held either at a police station or jail and prior to the person being arraigned on the pending criminal charge. Judges set bail after arraignment usually at the request of the assistant district attorney but sometimes on their own volition. The purpose of bail is to ensure the defendant’s appearance at future court appearances. Several factors are considered prior to imposing bail. Roots in the community, the nature of the case, the criminal history of the accused, prior defaults, risk of flight and the safety of the community constitute the majority of issues taken into consideration when setting bail. Courts also look to see if the defendant has any pending cases at the time of the commission of the crime.
The range of terms for an order of bail varies significantly. I have had judges impose a bail of fifty dollars on my clients. I have also had clients held without bail. This is most often for extremely violent crimes. For crimes that have considerable mandatory minimum sentences judges might hold the defendant without bail particularly if the accused is not a citizen of the United States. Orders of bail that cannot be paid by the defendant are often appealed to the superior court as a matter of right. There do exist further appellate rights for bails that people want to challenge, i.e. to the Appeals Court, however this right is rarely exercised and even less frequently successful.
Sometimes judges set bail orders with attached conditions that are absurd but not likely to get reversed. I recently represented a motorcycle gang member who was released over the objection of the prosecutor to bail conditions that bordered on ridiculous. The client was ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device. He could not leave his home. He could not go to work. He could not use a cell phone. Notwithstanding a recent back surgery he could not take his prescription medications without the express permission of the probation department and the judge who set the conditions of bail. Nevertheless the client opted to accept these conditions rather than await trial in jail.
Perhaps the most onerous of all bail orders pertain to sex offenses. Almost everyone who is charged with a sex crime and is able to post bail is forced to wear a GPS device. The defendant is often not permitted to go within a specified distance from schools, parks, playgrounds or children. This distance ranges but five hundred feet is not uncommon. While this might not present a large burden to someone who resides in a rural area it is nearly impossible to honor for people who live in cities such as Boston or Lawrence. In these cases, once the defendant is out of custody we try to get the judge to modify the conditions to permit the defendant to work and live in areas that otherwise would constitute a violation of the bail conditions.
According to the Salem News, last week a Beverly, Massachusetts man went into a Tedeschi convenience store wearing a mask and a hoodie. The store clerk was arranging items in the store. He heard someone come into the store. He then saw a man carrying a large semiautomatic weapon demanding money. He complied with the demand and gave the robber between one hundred fifty and two hundred dollars. When he realized exactly how much money he got the defendant expressed disappointment and fled. No arrest was made that day. By the way, the store clerk never saw the face of the man. A few days later the clerk believed that he saw the person who had committed the Armed Robbery just outside of the store. The reason he thought this was the culprit: the man was wearing the same pants and had the same gait. The police obtained an arrest warrant and on Saturday the defendant was arrested. The case is currently being prosecuted in the Salem District Court. Bail was set in the amount of ten thousand dollars.
A central issue to many criminal cases in Massachusetts is the identification of the accused as the person who committed the crime alleged. In Massachusetts it is the obligation of the district attorney to prove identification beyond a reasonable doubt. Mistaken identifications are not uncommon making your choice of a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer one of paramount importance. Since the arrival of DNA testing there are many people who have been freed from jails and had convictions reversed. Many of these convictions were based on eyewitness identifications that were made in error. I sometimes wonder whether some of these convictions could have been avoided with a better attack on the identification testimony.
Jurors in Massachusetts are instructed on the issue of identification if it becomes a live issue at the time of trial. Judges tell jurors that the witness must have had an adequate opportunity to observe the defendant. Jurors can consider a lapse of time from the time of the commission of the crime until the identification was made. Similarities between the person identified and other people who might have been near the crime scene or had the motive to commit the crime can also be a factor that impacts jury deliberations. An initial failure to make an identification is a factor to scrutinize when deciding guilt or innocence in a case such as this one.
The defendant referenced in this article has a lot work with in terms of presenting his defense. His lawyer did an excellent job arguing mistaken identification issues. I am surprised that the bail was set so high in this case given the suggested weakness of the identification. It would not surprise me to see the bail lowered in this case. I have had cases like this one and tried them to an acquittal. Mistaken identification cases require the services of an Experienced Massachusetts Lawyer.
Late Monday night members of the Boston, Massachusetts Police Department responded to a call after it was reported that two people had been stabbed. The police arrived at Huntington Avenue to find two Cambridge, Massachusetts residents being treated by emergency medical personnel. The unnamed victims are men ages twenty two and twenty six. The Lynn Item reports that the alleged victims were in a group that was approached by another group who demanded to know where they were from. A fight erupted and the two men who were stabbed and some of their friends entered a taxicab and fled the area. Once police arrived an investigation began. Ultimately, Jose Soriano of Lynn, Massachusetts was identified as the assailant. Bail was set in the amount of twenty five thousand dollars in the Boston Municipal Court. Soriano has been charged with Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon.
So exactly what is Soriano looking at? Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon in Massachusetts is a violent felony punishable by up to ten years in state prison and a five thousand dollar fine. The crime is codified in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 15(A)(b). The court where this case will be prosecuted depends on the severity of the stabbing and Soriano’s criminal record if any.
As a Massachusetts Stabbing Defense Lawyer I am concerned about the identification process and understanding just how it came about the Soriano was identified by the alleged victims. In Massachusetts the prosecution must prove identification beyond a reasonable doubt. Identification witnesses do not always have an adequate opportunity to view their assailant. Incorrect identifications are made all of the time. It is the duty of the defense attorney to ensure that any tainted identifications are suppressed. It is also the duty of a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer to make sure that any subsequent “in court” identifications are not suggestive. Sometimes suspects are presented in person to the identification witness. While Massachusetts has approved this procedure it is the least reliable method of identification and the most vulnerable to attack. This article makes me somewhat suspicious about the identification procedure that might have been used. Soriano is from Lynn. It is unlikely that he was identified so quickly from a photographic array in that the arrays would likely contain photos of Boston men. This procedure can take a long time due to the volume of photos that have to be assembled and viewed by the victims. The incident occurred around 11:30 Monday night and Soriano was arraigned in court yesterday. More likely, the police conducted a “show up” procedure. The circumstances of this process might lend themselves to an attack on the legality of the identification of Soriano. This might be his best defense to these charges.
Law enforcement officials at the state, federal and local levels arrested twenty eight people in the Brockton area yesterday following an investigation targeting low to mid-level drug dealers selling Cocaine and Crack Cocaine. The ages of the defendants ranges from nineteen to forty nine years old and includes women, men and homeless people. Most of the defendants are from Brockton, with a few from Bridgewater and Raynham. The charges leveled at the defendants vary. Some are charged with Cocaine Distribution, Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws, Distribution of Crack Cocaine, School Zone Violations, Heroin Distribution and Distribution of Cocaine Second and Subsequent Offense. Bail ranged from personal to thirty thousand dollars cash. The investigation was named Operation Street Sweeper II. This operation follows two other successful large scale investigations in the Brockton area in the last year. The cases are pending in the Brockton District Court. According to newspaper reports one courtroom was set aside to handle all of the arraignments in this case.
Brockton Cocaine Distribution Defense Lawyer
All throughout Massachusetts and the entire country police have been implementing various tactics aimed at disrupting street-level drug dealing activities. Among these strategies are controlled buys, raids and large scale crackdowns. The latter method deploys large numbers of undercover officers who typically target Heroin, Crack and Cocaine dealers. There is a belief that the effectiveness of these operations is limited to the short term. Once the arrests are made and law enforcement vacates the area drug dealers come to the area quickly and establish or reestablish their presence. This can be defeated if there is a follow up plan that prevents the reinstatement of the unlawful activities. It is however generally agreed that drug sweeps do result in a diminution of drug dealing activities at least initially and that getting these people off the streets is a good start towards fighting drug dealing efforts.
There is often difficulty in effectively prosecuting these kinds of cases. People arrested in drug sweeps are done so an extended time after the commission of the alleged activity. For instance, if the police are engaged in one of these large scale operations they will often make the controlled buy and not effectuate the arrest until a future date. This makes the job of the Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney somewhat easier. Doubt is often raised in these cases simply because jurors cannot understand why the police would wait to make an arrest. People simply do not believe that a police officer would fail to make an arrest immediately after witnessing a crime. It is counterintuitive to the lay person. Evidence of the overall operation might be excluded at trial particularly in cases where there in no link between the various people arrested and charged with drug dealing.
The Salem News reported today that Christian Clemons of Salem, Massachusetts has been charged with Indecent Assault and Battery in the Salem District Court. The report alleges that Clemons was at a friends’ home watching a movie. With the exception of Clemons everyone at the apartment are girls. The girls fell asleep. One of them awakened to find Clemons fondling her. Clemons has been charged with three counts of Indecent Assault and Battery to which he has pleaded not guilty. The defendant was previously charged with a theft related crime from a pet store. As a result, the bail on that case has been revoked and Clemons is going to be held for at least sixty days.
Revocation of Bail in Massachusetts
Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 276 §58 if a person is admitted to bail for a particular offense he receives a warning that his bail can be revoked if he is charged with another crime during the pendency of his release. This is known as a bail warning and it is indicated on the docket sheets of the case on which bail is imposed. If a person does in fact get charged with another offense while on bail and a judge finds probable cause to believe that he has committed the offense charged then the judge has to make a determination of whether or not to release that person. Many factors play into that decision including the person’s prior record, the nature of the offenses with which he has been charged, drug usage, mental health considerations and more. If the judge finds necessary, he or she can then revoke the existing order of bail for up to sixty days. This is what happened to Clemons in this case. The judge decided, based on factors most of which likely were not mentioned in this article, that Clemons posed a danger to the community and that a revocation of his existing bail was in order.
Indecent Assault and Battery, Salem, Massachusetts
Here is what makes no sense about the new charge. Someone complained that Clemons somehow committed an indecent assault and battery on her. This was done while she was sleeping. The other girls were sleeping as well. There is not report of any screaming when the girl awakened to the assault nor is there any indication that someone witnessed the account. There is no suggestion that the police were called at three in the morning when the alleged assault occurred. There is an awful lot missing that could shed some light on the significance of these allegations. A Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer would want to know the following. Who saw what? What time were the police called? When did the alleged incident occur? What evidence other than the complainant’s words support this allegation?