Law QA

Was I required to answer the officer questions for DUI?

I was stopped for DUI and the officer asked me questions? Was I required to answer them?
It is hard to believe that you were stopped by the police for an OUI. You may have been stopped for weaving or a marked lanes violation. At that point the police officer may have detected an odor of alcohol on your breath and then began to ask you questions regarding OUI. You did not have to answer any questions and you were not required to perform any field tests. If you do not cooperate the police will usually arrest; if you do cooperate the police usually arrest. The less you say and do, the easier it is to defend.

Can a felony theft be expunged from your record?

Massachusetts does not expunge criminal records but it does permit sealing a record. Current Massachusetts law permits an automatic administrative sealing of a felony 15 years after the case is closed. As of May of 2012 the 15 years will be reduced to 10 years. If the case is not ripe for administrative sealing, a petition to seal may be filed with the court. With proper facts and documentation a judge can rule on your petition and seal your record.

Can I be charged with murder if my friend gets shot while we rob a house?  If a friend and I rob a house and during the robbery the home owner shoots and kills my friend, can I be charged with murder?

Yes, you can be charged with murder if your friend (co-conspirator) dies during the course of a robbery. The rule is called the Felony-Murder rule.

What happens after I filed a false police report?

I filed a false police report saying my boyfriend hit me (he was already on probation for hitting me) because he cheated on me and the other girl and I got into a fight and she gave me a black eye, I was so mad at him I said it was him. If I tell the truth will I go to jail? and will he still be prosecuted?
Your best option is to hire an attorney.  You have a 5th amendment right to remain silent as anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. If you do not testify in your boyfriend's case there is no case against him and his case is likely to be dismissed. If you say anything; you could be prosecuted for filing a false report. You should hire an attorney.

What happens if both drivers in an accident are DUI?

Both parties got serious injuries.
If there is an auto accident involving two drivers and both drivers are under the influence of alcohol, both drivers are likely to be charged with operating under the influence of alcohol. Both drivers will have to hire independent counsel. Whether one or both of the drivers are guilty or not guilty, will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case and the quality of representation provided by their attorney .

Can I get a DUI on a bicycle?

I have a hearing for my first DUI. I just can't believe that I will get it riding a bike. Is it serious?
In Massachusetts you cannot be charged with OUI if you are operating a bicycle, even a motorized bicycle. Other states may apply the definition of motor vehicle differently. If the definition of motor vehicle includes bicycles you could be so charged. I know of no state where such a definition exists.

Was I required to answer the officer questions for DUI?

I was stopped for DUI and the officer asked me questions? Was I required to answer them?

It is hard to believe that you were stopped by the police for an OUI. You may have been stopped for weaving or a marked lanes violation. At that point the police officer may have detected an odor of alcohol on your breath and then began to ask you questions regarding OUI. You did not have to answer any questions and you were not required to perform any field tests. If you do not cooperate the police will usually arrest; if you do cooperate the police usually arrest. The less you say and do, the easier it is to defend.

Should I avoid driving when under medication?
I am currently taking medication. Should I avoid driving when under medication? What are the criteria of driving under the influence? What are the things the officers look for when they flag a possible "DUI" case? My work is quite far from my home and I need to drive everyday. However, I am asked to take a prescription drug for two months.

In Massachusetts you can be convicted of OUI while on prescription medication if you know that it is not appropriate to operate a motor vehicle or other machinery while taking the medication. You should know this because your doctor told you or because there was a warning label on the prescription bottle. If the medication states that alcohol can intensify the effects of the medication, you should not drink while on the medication and drive. Consult with your doctor to get the answer on your ability to drive while on the medication. The standard for OUI in Massachusetts is that alcohol diminished your ability to drive a car safely. If medication does that you can be convicted. Police will look for all signs and symptoms that suggest you are impaired and cannot operate a vehicle safely.

Can I keep on driving if my license is suspended?

I am in danger of losing my license. Is there any way that I can keep on driving? My work is several miles away from my home and public transport is scarce. Will I be allowed to drive to and from work? Can I request for this concession?

If your license is suspended in Massachusetts and you continue to operate a motor vehicle, you run the risk of being charged with the criminal offense of operating after suspension? If you are found guilty of operating after suspension the Registry of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license again. Although your unlikely to go to jail for an initial charge, you will be fined. Subsequent offenses could result in jail. Depending on the type of suspension you may be able to get a hardship license. If your license is suspended for more than one reason (you would have two suspensions running at the same time), you will not get a hardship license. Hardship licenses are usually available after you have served half of the suspension. A hardship license is a 12 hour license; the Registry of Motor Vehicles is flexible regarding the 12 hours chosen.

What is the punishment for a minor distributing a controlled substance on school grounds?

What is the criminal punishment for a 17 year old distributing a controlled substance on school grounds and also having possession of a pipe?

In Massachusetts a seventeen year old is not considered a minor. The seventeen year old is treated as an adult and the case will be in adult court. Distribution in a school zone is a mandatory jail sentence of 2 years. (no parole or early release) It is a felony offense. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor offense punishable up to 2 years in jail. The sentence is not mandatory. If you do not have an attorney, it is advised that you get one soon.

How much jail time is issued for stealing prescription drugs?

How much jail time would you get in for stealing prescription drugs from somebody in your household if they pressed charges?

Larceny of prescription drugs in Massachusetts, assuming the drugs are worth more than $250, carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. If the value is less than $250 the maximum penalty is 2 1/2 years in the house of correction. There is a secondary issue associated with larceny of prescription drugs. One can also be charged with illegal possession of those substances; the maximum penalty for most prescription substances would be one year in prison.

Do I qualify for a record expungement of a misdemeanor if it happened 10 years ago?

I was charged with assault almost 10 years ago having a hard time finding employment. The only thing on my record before and after abusive relationship. I just hit back and told the truth. I obey the law always and have until this one time. How can I qualify for record expungement misdemeanor?

  • The current state of Massachusetts law regarding the sealing of a misdemeanor record permits and administrative sealing to the Office of the Commissioner of Probation 10 years from the date the case is closed. As of May 2012 the time frame for an administrative sealing of an misdemeanor will be reduced to five years. In either event it appears that you are in a position to seal your record no later than May of 2012.

Can a police officer pull me over for DUI for my third tail light being out?

I was pulled over after a cop followed me from a bar. I went three blocks when he lit me up with his red and blue lights over a block away from me and said he pulled me over for my third tail light being out which he even said isn't needed. Then he asked if I had been drinking and the rest is history. Is this a legal stop? I was never issued a fix it ticket for the light.

The police have the right to stop a motor vehicle for a moving violation or for an equipment violation. In the scenario you presented the police will argue that they stopped you for an equipment violation. Because no citation was written relative to the equipment violation and because the light in question is not listed in Chapter 90 section 7 of Massachusetts Gen. laws there is a strong probability that you may be able to vacate or suppress the stop. Your attorney will probably file a Motion to Suppress the stop. If the stop is suppressed or vacated then the charge of operating under the influence will be dismissed. If the motion to suppress fails then your only alternative will be to fight the drunk driving case.

Can a cop arrest me for evading arrest when I never resisted?

A cop arrested me because when he pulled a car over, I did not stop when he yelled stop right there. I had no idea he was even talking to me. I allowed him to put on my handcuffs and I waited until he ran my information and took me in. I never fought back resisted are anything when he arrested me. How could he say that I evaded arrest? Also can if I'm found not guilty can I use false imprisonment?

From the facts you related it sounds like the police officer charged you with resisting arrest because you did not stop when he said to stop. If that is the case the police officer is stretching the meaning of the statute; you should win. Fight the case. You might be responsible for resisting arrest if you caused the police officer to chase you. That did not happen in your case. There is no resisting arrest in Massachusetts.

Can I fight against my arrest if I was questioned without my Miranda rights read to me?

I was brought in under the word of the officers that I was not under arrest. I was asked to answer a few questions then I was let outside to smoke a cigarette. After I returned, I was placed under arrest and booked instantly. No Miranda rights were read. Can I fight the way they did this?

You can challenge any statements that you made to the police prior to the reading of Miranda. If those prior statements incriminate you and the statements are suppressed, that is, not used during any trial against you, then you may win the case. If the police have other evidence against you and that evidence is sufficient to convict you, even without you statements, then you may be convicted.

Can police search my vehicle without a warrant?

I left the scene of an accident. The police found me later and I told them that I was the one in the accident. They impounded my car and searched it. Is that allowed without a warrant?

If the charge is Leaving the Scene after Causing Property Damage, the police are stretching their powers to search your car and impound your car. The police had the right to arrest you for the crime and to search the car for "fruits" or evidence of the crime you committed. Technically the only fruit of leaving the scene is your car, as the damage to your car may be consistent with the damage to the other vehicle. The police can take photos of your car, they can write in there police report that the damage to your car was consistent with the damage to the other vehicle; but, I have never seen a situation where the police impounded the vehicle. It is worth engaging an attorney to argue this matter on your behalf.

What is someone who was caught with drugs while on probation facing?

A person that is on probation and got caught with a quarter gram of meth but has not been indicted on the charges of the drugs yet, what are they facing?

If a defendant commits a new offense while currently on probation, that defendant will face a probation violation hearing. The result of that hearing could cause the defendant to be re-probated with additional conditions or sent to jail. If the defendant in your scenario was not arrested, the probation department may not find out of the new offense until it is brought to court. If the police never bring the charges before the court and the probation department does not learn of his possession of the illegal substance, the defendant should avoid a probation violation. The defendant should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

What will happen after I was caught shoplifting?

I was caught shoplifting $42.95 worth of items. The cops showed up and gave me a court hearing but they never told me what is going to happen. What do I plead? Do I need a lawyer? What happens when I plead guilty or not guilty? I don't want this to be on my record, I want this to go away as easily as possible so I can go back to my life and never do something that stupid again.

If you were not arrested by the police then they probably requested a clerk's hearing. If you can convince the clerk not to issue the complaint you will not get a criminal record. It is always wise to have an attorney present as it shows respect for the court process. It also shows that you realize the seriousness of the situation and the attorney may assist you in persuading the clerk to adopt an alternative disposition other than issuing a criminal complaint. If the complaint issues then you have to be concerned about how you plead and how the matter will appear on your record. There are many options to avoid a conviction but once the complaint issues it is on your criminal record. Consult an attorney.

Can someone be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter if they died from another cause?

If someone dies after being beat up severely, but autopsy show other ailments, could those people still be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter?

The assailant can be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter if the victim died of injuries caused by the assailant. If there is a question as to what actually caused the death of the victim, a prosecution may be brought and if a jury decides that the death was caused by the assailants attack, a conviction will result. A case such as this may become a battle of experts (doctors). The defense will be that the victim died of unrelated causes; the prosecution will argue that the assailant contributed to the death of the victim. If the jury is convinced that the assault was not the cause of death, then the verdict should be a not guilty. This is a serious matter; and attorney should be consulted immediately.

What are my son's rights if he is being accused of a robbery?

My son was recently visited in our home and questioned about a robbery that happened over 2 months ago by a detective, my son did not do this crime and the detective said a teenager had stated that my son took him to where the items that were stolen were thrown away. My son didn't do any of this. The detective wants my son to take a voice stress analyzer test. While we have no problem doing this we feel it is not necessary since on the day in question, my son had just been released from the hospital and was in no physical shape to even leave the house, we do have the hospital report and can't understand why the detective is asking for this test. What are my son's rights?

  • Your son is under no obligation to cooperate with the police. He is certainly a person of interest to the police and maybe a prime suspect. At this point he should exercise his constitutional right to remain silent. If the police take him into custody or arrest him he should say nothing and ask for an attorney. If the police have focused on him there is nothing he can say that will change their minds. If they insist on talking to him then they probably do not have sufficient evidence to arrest him. Any statements made by him will be used against him. At this point he is giving away his defense to the case by communicating with the police and allowing the police to fashion a response to his statements or use them against him. He should consider retaining an attorney who can discuss issues with the police. The attorney can decide if cooperation with the police is warranted. Good luck.

What do I do if I was arrested for theft and this is a first time offense?

I was arrested for theft of $7500.00. This is a first time offense and the court date is soon. I need advice. The person cashed checks that were cashed once by him.

If you were arrested for larceny by check of $7500, you need to retain an attorney. Larceny over $250 is a felony in Massachusetts, punishable by imprisonment up to five years. The amount of money in question is significant and is likely to draw the attention to the District Attorney's Office. Restitution, if it can be paid immediately, is often an important factor in mitigating the penalty for the offense. The facts as you recited in your question are confusing. It appears someone cashed the check, but it is not clear who cashed the check. There may be a defense to this case.

What can happen to me if I got pulled over with a suspended license?

I got my license suspended for 30 days due to a DUI. I completed the 30 days and just went to court, I got all these fines and another extra 45 days of suspended license. Today I got pulled over and now I have another court date. What could happen?

If you are stopped for Operating after Suspension after an OUIconviction in Massachusetts and your license suspension is for that OUI, you are facing a mandatory 60 days injail. If you were stopped for Operating after Suspension for refusing the breath testand it is a first offense you cannot be sentence tojail for more than 10 days. The 10 days is not mandatory, it can be suspended.Typically for first time OUI offenders the 30 day suspension is for failing the breath test; the 45 day suspension is for the OUI conviction. It is important that you have representation in this matter.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

How does my daughter get the false police report corrected if it is forwarded to the prosecutor's office?

My daughter "A" had a person (her sister B) that attacked her and file a false police report stating false facts and reversing the situation. She did this to hurt her sister but with her "A" being a school teacher it could blemish her future. Except for some lost hair the only injury was a bit finger which was done by "A" to prevent her "b" from choking her. Their ages are 35 and 40, "a" has 3 witnesses that saw it to include their mother that would testify it was a false report. It took 3 weeks to get a copy of the police report; she went to the prosecutor's office but was told it may be in for review and as of now no summons as been issued.

The facts you describe are confusing; they need clarification. One thing is certain; both A and B were involved in some type of Assault and Battery. Both could be charged. Both therefore have a 5th amendment rights to remain silent. If both A and B hire separate lawyers; the lawyers will help both through the process of asserting their 5th amendment rights. All charges should ultimately be dismissed unless the prosecutor can prove the assault by other witnesses who were present. Tell A and B to hire separate criminal attorneys.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

Can I be charged with murder if my friend gets shot while we rob a house?

If a friend and I rob a house and during the robbery the home owner shoots and kills my friend, can I be charged with murder?

  • Yes, you can be charged with murder if your friend (co-conspirator)dies during the course of a robbery. The rule is called the Felony-Murder rule.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

How much dose it cost to get my record sealed?

The cost to seal a criminal record depends on whether the case can be administratively sealed through the Commissioner of Probation or if the matter must be brought to court via motion. A misdemeanor case can be sealed through the Commissioner's office 10 years from the closing of the case.(Will change to 5 years in May 2012); a felony can be sealed through the Commissioner's office 15 years from the closing of the case ( 10 years after May 2012). All other sealing require a two step motion hearing before the Court in question. Administrative sealing is not expensive; motion proceedings can be costly. There is much more involved; consult a qualified attorney before proceeding.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

What are penalties for reckless driving?

I just got a summons for reckless driving. At first I was influenced with alcohol and when they brought me to the precinct and did my BAC level was 0.015 .The officer gave me the summons. I was wondering what are the penalties for this summons when I go into court.

The maximum penalty for operating recklessly in Massachusetts is up to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $200. It is rare that someone goes to jail for this type of offense, assuming no serious accident and no serious bodily injury. They are often resolved without a conviction and with payment in court costs.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

How can I as the victim have an aggravated assault charge dropped?

My ex boyfriend choked and beat me with a baseball bat. I did not call the cops, the hospital did and the state then pressed charges. I have no permanent injuries. I need to know what I can do to help stop these charges. I don't want to be responsible for sending him to prison.

  • Most prosecutors in Massachusetts will not force a victim to testify, particularly if the were no serious injuries. In your case the facts sound serious. If you were beaten with a bat and choked, there are recognizable injuries, and the police took photos of the injuries, the prosecutors may be reluctant to dismiss the charge. If your boyfriend has a criminal past for this type of behavior then the prosecutor may force you to testify.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

What is the penalty for driving with a hardship license at unauthorized times?

Driving at unauthorized times with a hardship license is the same as Operating without a License. It is technically an arrestible offense; although the police usually issue a citation and do not make an arrest. The police will have the car you are driving towed unless a licensed individual is available to drive the car. The penalty usually results in a fine. The Registry of MV will likely revoke your hardship license; you will then have to wait out the original suspension period to get your full license reinstated.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

What happens to the person who put up the bond when the person does not go to court?

If someone puts up bail for someone and that person does not go to court or follow through with what they are suppose to do, what can happen to the person that put up the bail money?

If someone posts bail for a defendant and the defendant does not appear for court on the scheduled date, the bail is forfeited to the state. If there are extenuating circumstances which caused the defendant to miss the court date (i.e. in the hospital)the person who posted the bail can request relief and get the bail returned,assuming the defendant returns to court and disposes of the case.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

How can you drop a charge on your husband for domestic violence?

If you made a police report about your husband and want to drop the charge is it best to go to court or not go?

In Massachusetts one spouse cannot be forced to testify against the other spouse. The District Attorney controls the prosecution of the case; but, most District Attorneys will not force a victim to testify. In this case the wife can refuse to testify and the District Attorney has no say. Without further evidence the case shall be dropped. The ideal situation is to have an attorney represent the wife's interest. If she cannot afford an attorney then have her speak to the defense attorney of the husband and the assistant district attorney. In this case she should appear in court on her husband's behalf.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

Will my friend be accused of rape if both of them were under the influence?

My friend is accused of having sex with a woman without consent. Both were drunk and can't remember any details. All she knows is that she woke up and her jeans were down. She had a test done and it did show semen. It was not violent or anything and she was not injured. They were drinking together all night. He can't remember anything. He hasn't been in trouble before and is a pretty good guy. I was wondering what the punishment would be for him if the DNA came back positive.

Your friend can be charged with rape; a recent Mass Supreme Court decision ruled that if a person is so intoxicated, they are not capable of giving consent. Being convicted is another story. The victim is alleging that she did not consent to the sex. That may be challenged. Who initiated the sex? Did she voluntarily go with your friend to a room or location? Are there witnesses who saw them flirting with each other? You can bet that the DNA is your friend's. The question is consent.

Did they do an illegal search if my son was not home?

My son is being charged with a misdemeanor. He was not at home when his room was searched. Was it legal?

If the police entered your home without permission and without a warrant, and searched your son's room, the search would be illegal and any evidenced seized as a result of that search would be suppressed.(not allowed as evidence) If a parent or owner of the house gave the police permission to search his room, then the search may be legal and any evidence seized can be used at trial. This type of case is very fact specific and those facts will determine whether the search was legal or illegal.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

Is it an illegal raid if the search warrant has a different address on it?

The search warrant has a different address from the property searched.

One of the central inquiries for a judge or magistrate to consider in issuing a search warrant is whether the items sought, relative to the criminal activity, can be found in the place to be searched. If the police have provided an incorrect address, the general rule is that the search is illegal and any evidence seized from that search shall be suppressed and not admitted at trial. The fact that the wrong address is indicated on the search warrant may not always mean that the search is illegal. If the description of the property is sufficiently clear in the warrant (it cannot be confused with any other property), the court may find that the warrant adequately identified the property to be searched and any evidence found can be used to trial. Your question is facts specific. An attorney will have to look at all the facts and details relative to the search warrant to determine whether or not the search was illegal.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

What happens if my daughter filed a false police report?

My daughter pawned a laptop computer I was renting. I couldn't afford to make payments so she told me that the company came and took the laptop back, but she filed a police report. Then the police found out that she pawned it so now she has to go to court for filing a false police report. What can she get for it?

  • The charge of Filing a False Police Report is a misdemeanor offense which carries a fine between $100 and $500 and/or a maximum penalty of one year in jail. If this is a first offense and there were no serious consequences as a result of the false filing, it is likely that a conviction could be avoided and a penalty involving costs would be imposed.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts

Will my son go to jail for stealing a vehicle?

My 18 year old son stole a four-wheeler. He was asked by the police to come in for questioning. He admitted to doing it. They haven't arrested him yet. What will happen to him? He has a clean record with no trouble prior to this. Are they going to put him in prison?

  • If your son has a clean record, he is unlikely to go to prison, There are many options available to your son, Because he is under 21, he may be eligible for a diversion program, pretrial probation or a continuance without entering a guilty finding. All will involve a probationary period but no jail. Hire a good attorney and he may receive one of these options.

Answer Applies to: Massachusetts