Arrested in Massachusetts?
Know the Law and Defend Your Rights!
After an arrest, you already know that you may be facing serious legal consequences. Consulting with an experienced criminal lawyer who deals with criminal defense issues in Massachusetts every day can help you work through all the complexities which may leave you feeling overwhelmed.
If you are arrested on a criminal charge, you will have to appear in court. Most Massachusetts arrest offenses are heard in District Court, but if you are indicted on a felony charge, you may end up in Superior Court.
Here are the general steps in the process for most criminal legal matters in Massachusetts District Courts:
- Clerk’s Hearing: Also known as a Show Cause hearing, A Clerk Magistrate’s hearing can happen before or after an arraignment. If you received a summons in the mail and were not arrested, you must appear at a Clerk Magistrate’s hearing. Consult with a lawyer first! At the hearing, the Commonwealth must establish sufficient evidence to move forward with the charges against you. It’s an excellent chance for a good lawyer to have the entire case thrown out in many cases before even a criminal complaint is issued. More on Clerk Magistrate’s Hearings.
- Arraignment: An arraignment is your first appearance in court after being arrested. You will have the charges officially read to you and be advised of your legal rights. If you are bailed out, in most cases your arraignment date will be within a few days. If you are held in jail, you’ll generally be brought to court on the next business day.
- Pre-trial Conference: Typically a pre-trial conference happens a few weeks after an arraignment. You and your lawyer will meet with the DA, who will usually offer a plea bargain if you decide to plead guilty. You can decide to accept the offer, or reject it and ask for a trial. Other evidentiary motions and court paperwork will be processed if you are fighting the case. Otherwise, you will usually go before the judge that day to plead guilty or to a CWOF.
- Suppression / Motion Hearing: A court hearing at which various motions are filed, depending on the circumstances. For example, if your lawyer feels that your constitutional rights may have been violated, he may file a motion to suppress the evidence against you on those grounds.
- Trial: Most trials in Massachusetts criminal cases take place in district court where you have a right to have a trial in front of a judge (a bench trial), where the judge decides your guilt or innocence if you and your lawyer decide that is best for you. Otherwise, you will be set for a jury trial, where 6 empanelled citizens make that determination.
- Sentencing: The Court imposes a sentence after a conviction at trial or after a plea bargain is formally accepted and a plea entered. Sentences may include fines, probation, jail time, community service, or some combination or those. Of course, we always fight for the minimum sentence alternative. After a conviction in a Massachusetts District Court, the sentence is usually issued immediately.
There are a few other types of court dates that come up less frequently, such as compliance and election dates where the Commonwealth and the defense agree that all evidence has been submitted, or trial assignment dates, where dates for cases going to trial are officially selected. Call me to speak about your criminal charge, and I can give you specific advice about your options in protecting your rights and your freedom. Being arrested in not the same as being guilty!
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Criminal Defense Lawyer
By calling, you have nothing to lose. I’ll be happy to talk with you and discuss your case before you decide if you want to hire me. Either way, you’ll get some free advice. Defending people accused of crimes is what I do for a living. Call for a consultation now.