Massachusetts Criminal Defense

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Massachusetts Criminal Defense

massachusetts criminal defenseCharged with a Crime in Massachusetts?

Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties

A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.

If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local Massachusetts criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.

What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?

The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:

  • Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
  • Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
  • Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
  • Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.

In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.

What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in Massachusetts?

Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. In Massachusetts, misdemeanors are determined on a case-by-case basis, relative to the severity of felonies, which are defined as "a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in the state prison is a felony.” Thus, all other crimes are misdemeanors: offenses that cannot be punished by a state prison sentence.  

In Massachusetts, most misdemeanors do not involve serious bodily injury, or major property damage. Sentencing often depends on the amount of damage done or value of theft. For example, larceny of $250 or less is a misdemeanor, while larceny over $250 could be charged as a felony. Some of the most common examples of misdemeanor violations include:

  • Petty theft or shoplifting.
  • Driving without a license.
  • Trespassing.
  • Operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OUI).
  • Vandalism.
  • Possession of more than one ounce of marijuana intended for personal- non-medicinal use.

Most of the time, misdemeanor convictions will result in a fine and probation instead of serving time in jail. However, should a misdemeanor conviction result in jail time, the maximum penalties for a misdemeanor is Massachusetts in two and a half (2 ½) years in a House of Corrections.

What Is the Penalty for a Felony in Massachusetts?

Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction. In Massachusetts, in the same vein of its broad misdemeanor categorization, felonies are defined as a crime that can be punished by a state prison sentence up to and including life in prison. If the law that a person is charged with breaking includes a possible state prison sentence, it is considered a felony in Massachusetts.

Felony crimes can range from charges of relative less-seriousness, like a third OUI offense, to much more consequential crimes such as:

  • Murder.
  • Assault with a deadly weapon.
  • Rape.
  • Burglary.
  • Forgery and counterfeiting.
  • Motor vehicle theft.
  • Motor vehicle homicide.
  • Indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.
  • Armed entry of dwelling house and assault.
  • Armed robbery with a firearm.
  • Possession of child pornography.

A felony conviction can result in a substantial state prison sentence, and the potential loss of certain privileges and Constitutional rights such as U.S. citizenship.

Need a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help

If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.


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