Use of a Vehicle Without Authority

Use of Vehicle Without Authority

It is a well-established right that an individual has the right to possess and protect his or her public property. In Massachusetts, a motor vehicle is considered private property and is thus protected from others. The crime of larceny is a common law crime involving the theft of another person’s property with the intent to deprive him or her of its possession permanently. Use of a motor vehicle without authority is a lesser-included offense of larceny of a motor vehicle, without the element of intending to deprive the owner of possession permanently as established by the Court in Commonwealth v. Giannino. Even though the crime of using a motor vehicle without authority is a lesser-included offense, it is still a very serious crime that could result in a prison sentence. In cases such as this, admission to sufficient facts or evidence may do more harm than good, even if you were mistaken as to whether you had valid authority to use the vehicle. Early intervention by a skilled Massachusetts motor vehicle crimes defense attorney may be hugely beneficial on the outcome of a case.

M.G.L. c. 90, § 24 [2][a] provides that any individual who uses a vehicle without authority or permission knowing that such use is unauthorized shall be in violation of this law. A conviction for a first offense shall be punishable by the following:

  • A fine ranging from $50- $500, or
  • Imprisonment for not less than 30 days or more than 2 years, or
  • Both fine and imprisonment.

A conviction for a second offense shall be punishable by the following:

  • Imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years, or
  • Minimum mandatory imprisonment in a house of correction for 30 days, but no more than 2.5 years, or
  • A fine not to exceed $1,000, or
  • Both such fine and imprisonment.

Any individual found guilty of a third or subsequent offense in Massachusetts for using a vehicle without authority committed within 5 years of the earliest of his two most recent prior offenses shall be punishable by the following:

  • A fine of not less than two hundred dollars or more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not less than six months or more than two and one half years in a house of correction or for not less than two and one half years or more than five years in the state prison or by both fine and imprisonment.

In order for a defendant to be found guilty of this offense, the Commonwealth must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant used a motor vehicle;
  2. At the time he or she used that motor vehicle, he or she did so without the permission of the owner, or the permission of some other person who possessed the legal right of control ordinarily exercised by the owner; and
  3. At the time he or she used the motor vehicle, the defendant knew that he or she was not authorized to use that vehicle.

For the purposes of this law, it is considered “use” if a person rides in the car, either as the driver or as a passenger. It is not necessary that the defendant personally drove or controlled the vehicle; only that he or she was physically in the vehicle while it moved. Under this law, the Commonwealth must be able to prove that the defendant had knowledge that his or her use of the vehicle was unauthorized. This may be established through testimony by the owner or other person in charge of the vehicle, or inferences may be made regarding specific facts surrounding the circumstances.

Assault and Battery

Assault & Battery

Sometimes people get into a situation where threats are made or they actually are physically attacked by another person. In these cases, the crime that is committed is assault or assault and battery. The main difference between assault and battery is the use of physical contact. Assault occurs when a person acts in a manner that is threatening to another person, making that other person feel threatened. The violator can be charged with assault even if there was no physical contact. An attempt to strike, hit or touch another person in a violent manner can be considered an assault.

Battery, however, does involve physical contact, no matter how minor. When someone touches another person in a violent manner, intentionally and without justification, this is battery. Also, if you throw something at another person, spit at them or engage in any other sort of aggressive behavior, you may be charged with battery. Battery is a more severe crime than assault.

Assault and Battery Charges & Punishments

The main difference between assault and battery charges is deliberate physical contact that is violent or threatening. Punishments for assault and battery vary by state, but it always is a serious crime. The degree of seriousness depends on the actual event; a suspect may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony degree crime.

Punishment also varies by state. For example, in Massachusetts, both assault and assault and battery crimes can be punished by up to 2.5 years in the state prison. If the crime is severe enough to be raised to the level of a felony crime, the punishment will also be more severe. The guilty person could spend time in a state prison instead of a county jail or house of corrections.

Examples of Assault and Battery

Examples of assault and battery are easy to envision. People that get into a bar fight, or an argument at a baseball game that soon gets physical could be charged with assault and battery. A heated talk that becomes a pushing and shoving match could also be categorized as assault and battery, due to the element of physical contact.

Many people think that someone who is charged with assault and battery must have had a deadly weapon to use. Actually, assault and battery charges can be made when any type of weapon is part of the scene, including a shoe, a plate or a rock.


Punishment doled out for those convicted of assault or assault and battery crimes will vary by several factors. Severity of the injuries may have some impact upon sentencing and punishment. If any weapons were used, the charge could be boosted to a felony rather than a misdemeanor. Special circumstances may also affect the severity of any punishment. Heavier punishments could be rendered if the victim was a minor, or the assault and battery was part of domestic violence.

In Massachusetts, convictions on a misdemeanor assault and battery charge will bring up to 2.5 years in the county jail or house of corrections. If the crime is rated as a felony, the sentence can be more than 2.5 years in a state prison. The most violent offenders or career criminals are found in state prisons. Lower level offenders usually are housed in county jails or local houses of corrections.

Any punishment for this crime will be influenced by the actual circumstances of the event. If there is a small conflict and one person retreats, but then the other person comes after them with intent to harm, the second person might face criminal charges for assault. Use of deadly force may or may not be a factor in punishment, depending on the flow of events. Deadly force could be reasonable in a case of self-defense. Other factors that influence punishment may include consideration of the size, strength and age of the parties.

Criminal Defense for Assault and Battery

An experienced Criminal Defense Attorney who has successfully defended clients accused of Assault and Battery crimes will work hard on your behalf to protect your rights and your freedom. They may try to argue that you were acting in self defense, protecting another person or defending your property when the interaction got physical.

Proving voluntary consent is another defense against these charges. If you engage in a physical activity and someone gets hurt, that is not a crime of assault and battery. For example, players in a football game consent to and expect physical contact of a reasonable nature. If, however, they are hurt because another player deliberately tried to hurt them, that could be assault and battery. The issue at point here is whether or not the contact was more than what was reasonable and common.

If you are accused of assault or assault and battery, get competent legal advice and representation right away. You have no time to waste; your attorney will work diligently to examine all details of your case and work up a strong defense case to present to a judge or jury. If you are convicted, your attorney will make an appeal and possibly be able to get charges reduced to a lower level or eliminated.

No matter what actually happened, facing criminal charges can be a life-changing event. You could lose your freedom for several years, be slapped with high fines and have a permanent criminal record to follow you around forever. Being convicted of a physical crime may also interfere with your ability to find work or housing or travel freely in the future. Get help immediately from a Criminal Defense Lawyer who is experienced handling Assault and Battery cases.

Sex Offenses and Sex Offender Registration

What Constitutes A Sex Offense in Massachusetts

While the term ‘sex offense’ is enough to make most people immediately feel anger and disgust, Massachusetts law has numerous individual laws that define many different types of sex offenses and detail the different punishments that they may receive. There are numerous specific crimes that end up being classified as sex offenses, and determining what may constitute one is important.

There are two main types of sex offenses in Massachusetts law – forcible offenses and non-forcible offenses. Each of these is different in obvious ways, but still lead to serious penalties under state law.

Forcible sex offenses are the most heinous and the most heavily punished. These sex offenses include things like forcible rape, sodomy, sexual assault, and more. Essentially, it is defined as a type of crime that involves forcible sexual intercourse with any person. It doesn’t matter if the victim and the suspect are married, are dating, or are complete strangers. It also doesn’t matter what type of sexual activity is conducted – any type of sexual contact that involves penetration or sexual gratification that is unwanted and forced upon a victim is considered to be forcible sexual assault. Under this definition, numbers specific charges may be filed including sodomy, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, and more.

Non-Forcible sex offenses are those that often involve sexual conduct between a suspect and someone who is unable to give consent. This includes sex acts that involve mentally disabled victims, underage victims, and children. Statutory rape falls under this definition, as do most child abuse cases although these may also be considered forcible cases as well. In nearly all cases, even if consent is given by the victim the state of Massachusetts will still consider sexual relations with a person under the age of 18 to be a sexual offense.

In short, any type of crime that involves the exploitation of another person against their will, the assault and forced sexual relations with a person against their will, or any other situations related to sexual activity may be considered to be a crime. It’s important to note that the specifics of each situation will have a large impact on what type of charges will be filed against a person and what type of punishment they may receive. In many instances multiple charges could be filed.

It’s also important to understand that in many situations, particularly those involving children, the internet, or kidnapping, federal charges are likely to be filed as well. In these cases federal prosecutors will work to gain longer sentences and in some cases state as well as federal punishments will be applied.

Any type of sex offense also usually requires the guilty party to register as a sex offender in the sex offender registry. This is a condition of release and the number of years one will be included on this list may vary greatly and could even be for life.

Sex offenses are among the most serious crimes one can be charged with, and there are numerous specific types of charges one may face. Each one is different, but will involve the points listed above.


Sexual Assault & Rape

Rape and sexual assault are two of the most devastating crimes one can be the victim of. These crimes can cause serious physical injury, mental and emotional damage, and much more. In some cases it can lead to STDs, pregnancies, and more. Massachusetts has numerous laws in place to help punish those who commit these crimes.

While they’re essentially the same, the terms sexual assault and rape are just slightly different from one another. Rape is sexual intercourse performed without the consent of one of the people involved. Sexual assault is any unwanted sex act that is forced upon someone, whether it is penetration or simply sexualized touching. Fondling a woman’s breasts without her permission, for example, would be considered sexual assault and not rape. In many instances, the two terms are used interchangeably.

Sexual assault is the broader of the two and includes any type of contact that happens without consent of an individual. This could include forced intercourse, child molestation, incest, fondling, any type of sexual touching, attempted rape, and more.

Additionally, there is a separate definition for what is known as Aggravated Sexual Assault. This is a type of sexual assault that actually results in physical harm to the victim. Essentially, if any medical attention is required due to injuries sustained during a sexual assault, it becomes a case of aggravated sexual assault. With this will come much harsher punishments including longer prison sentences.

Under Massachusetts law, rape and sexual assaults can reach up to 20 years in a state prison along with probation, GPS monitoring, fines, and a lifetime being listed on the sex offender list at the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board. Additionally, many sex crimes may also fall under federal jurisdiction and could result in federal and state charges along with sentences in both of the courts. In certain instances additional charges may also be filed against someone and could lead to even longer sentences.

There’s no denying that these are among the absolute worst crimes that one can face. But in some instances there have been a growing number of false accusations made largely because of things like someone wishing to ‘get back’ at someone else. In cases of date rape, the number of false accusations is higher than in other cases of rape or sexual assault.

That isn’t to say that these aren’t serious offenses, or that the accused is always innocent. But there are cases of innocent people being accused, tried, and convicted of sex crimes that they didn’t commit. As a result, DNA evidence, expert witness testimony, and much more will have to be used in court to ensure that the facts of the case are presented accurately and correctly.

Sexual assault and rape are serious crimes and they deserve serious punishments. But those who are unjustly accused will want to ensure that they procure a legal representative who can help them, as well. There are often two sides to every story, and with a life on the line it’s important that representation is always available.

Date Rape

Rape is a dirty word and one that most people immediately identify with strong emotions. But there are actually a wide range of different types of rape, and date rape is certainly one of them. Massachusetts law focuses on prosecuting rape and sexual assault based on the situation at hand and in the case of date rape a number of specific charges may be filed against the accused.First, it’s worth understanding just what the act of date rape is. Essentially, date rape is a type of sexual assault that occurs when the victim knows the perpetrator. While it’s called ‘date rape’, the term also applies to those who are raped when not actually on a date, but who are victimized by friends, neighbors, or even boyfriends or spouses. Usually, drugs and alcohol are involved in cases of date rape although in other cases it may occur through nothing more than physical force.When these rapes occur, numerous charges may be filed. These could include sexual assault, lewd conduct, aggravated sexual assault, rape, and much more. These charges can lead to prison sentences from a couple of years up to 20 years or more in prison as well as fines and other penalties. Also, those convicted of the crime will have to register as sex offenders for years or even potentially for the rest of their life. It’s a serious allegation and one that can lead to serious long term repercussions.

However, an alarming trend of false accusations is actually on the rise. This is frequently the case on college campuses and in the bar or club scene. Reasons for false accusations vary. In some cases they may be a type of ‘revenge’ for a breakup or a broken heart. In other cases, the sex could be consensual during the act but one party may lead to regret their actions and often file charges. In some cases, both parties are intoxicated and the act is barely remembered by either person – even though it was consensual.

The rise of false allegations – as well as the increase in cases of true offenses – are on the rise in Boston in particular due to the large influx of college aged students. Date rape often comes down to a ‘he said, she said’ type situation and when these cases go to trial it can be hard for even a jury to determine the right verdict. For every person who is deserving of a prison term for their heinous actions, another person may stand accused of a crime that they didn’t commit. Date rape is actually the one area of sexual assault with the highest percentage of unsubstantiated and false claims.

It’s important to note that rape is a serious offense and a despicable act that can have huge negative impacts on those who are victims of it. But at the same time, false accusations can also destroy one’s life temporarily or even for good. With that in mind, and with the rising number of these false allegations, date rape remains one of the murkiest and most difficult types of criminal accusations to manage.

Domestic Assault and Battery

Domestic Assault and Battery

An allegation of domestic assault and battery is a serious matter in Massachusetts. Based
on recent high profile cases involving local defendants (see the Jared Remy case out of
the Waltham District Court) and defendants in other jurisdictions (see NFL player Ray
Rice’s case in Maryland) the Legislature in Massachusetts undertook the drastic step of
amending the law in our Commonwealth to create the specific crime of domestic assault
and battery under M.G.L. Ch 265 § 13M. This particular offense did not even exist prior to
the amendment in August 2014, and the changes to the landscape of defending this
particular charge go way beyond the enhanced penalties provided for under the new law.
You can be sure that every district attorney’s office in the Commonwealth is making the
prosecution of domestic assault and battery their top priority. This is evidenced by the
hard-line stance they take in not dismissing these cases short of a trial date, the specific
red “DV” stamp they use on the case folders (the modern “Scarlet Letter”), and the
lengths to which they will go to make these charges stick despite the wishes of the
alleged victim. The one-size-fits-all approach to prosecuting these cases is frustrating to
many defendants and their loved ones, as it does not take into account the alleged
victim’s true desires, and it completely ignores the complexity and history of relationship
between the individuals involved. While no one should ever be in fear that they will be
the victim of domestic violence, similarly no one should be forced to feel victimized
when that is not the reality of the situation. Quite often citizens will call the police to
legislate their relationships or to “just get the other person to leave” without realizing
the long-term consequences of that decision. The police are not a relationship counselor
or a mediator. They are there to make an arrest, and you can be sure that when it comes
to domestic assault and battery calls they are instructed that an arrest is the only
appropriate course of action to prevent the possibility of further disturbances.

Once you have been arrested for a domestic assault and battery, you will be held in
custody for a MINIMUM of 6 hrs, even if the alleged victim protests that this is
unnecessary. When you are eventually brought to court, even someone with no prior
record can expect the prosecutor to ask for bail in a domestic assault and battery case,
and it is important to have a qualified and experienced lawyer on your side to rebut that
request. The prosecutor will also file an “allegation of domestic abuse” which will be
forever stored in a database under the Commonwealth’s control. The Commonwealth can
also ask for what is called a “dangerousness hearing,” at which a judge will be asked to
make a preliminary determination about the likelihood that the defendant is
“dangerous.” If the Judge makes a preliminary determination that a defendant is indeed a
danger to the alleged victim or the community at large, the Commonwealth is entitled to
3 days to prepare for a final hearing, and the defense can ask for a continuance of up to 7
days. At the final hearing evidence will be taken, and witnesses will be heard as to the
defendant’s alleged “dangerousness,” and if the Judge sides with the Commonwealth a
defendant shall be held for 120 days without the right to post bail. This can be a
devastating and completely horrific consequence to any defendant. But, it is especially
nightmarish for those who have never spent time in custody, and whose cases may
eventually be resolved without any incarcerated sentence. People lose their homes, jobs,
business, etc by virtue of being taken out of their community for 4 months without
warning. So before a jury ever hears your case, you may have to spend 4 months away
from your friends, family, etc. The stakes are very real and very high when you are
charged with a domestic assault and battery. You cannot afford to take chances with your

If you are convicted of a domestic assault and battery you can face a sentence of up to 2.5
years in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Further, the change in the law in August 2014
requires that anyone convicted of this offense complete a “certified batter’s program.”
This condition is extremely onerous on most defendants as it requires the expenditure of
a considerable amount of time (approximately 80 hours over 40 weeks) and money (as
costly as $3,500 in program fees).

The days of a domestic assault and battery being viewed as a “private” or a “family”
matter are long gone, and you can expect the prosecutor to prefer the possibility of
losing a case at trial to the possibility of dismissing a case like this prior to a scheduled
trial. For this reason you absolutely need a capable and seasoned trial lawyer to represent
you in any assault and battery case. From the moment you are charged with a domestic
assault and battery you need to work with your attorney to formulate a strong and
sensible defense to protect yourself.

You can find more information about the penalties for domestic assault and battery at:[1]

A&B on a Family or Household Member

Before delving into how this new crime of domestic assault/assault and battery is different, we must first examine the existing crimes of assault and assault and battery. An assault is either (1) an attempted battery or (2) an immediately threatened battery, where a battery is a harmful or unpermitted touching of a person.

To convict a defendant of an assault and battery, the Commonwealth must prove that:

(1) the defendant touched the person without having any right or excuse for doing so;
(2) the defendant intended to touch that person; and
(3) the touching was either harmful or was done without the person’s consent.

The new crime of domestic assault or domestic assault and battery is proved by showing the above-mentioned elements, but in addition, the Commonwealth must show that the defendant and alleged victim was a “family or household member” of the defendant, which is defined in the statute as persons who:

(i) are or were married to one another;

(ii) have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or

(iii) are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265, § 13M.

In short, if you are accused of assault or assault and battery on a “family or household member” as defined above, then you can be charged with domestic assault or domestic assault and battery.


One big difference in being charged with domestic assault/assault and battery (instead of simple assault or assault and battery), is the possible penalties involved. As with assault or assault and battery, the punishment for conviction of a domestic assault/assault and battery is up to 2.5 years in a house of correction, but where the fine for an assault or assault and battery is up to $1,000, the fine for a domestic assault/assault and battery can be up to $5,000. There is also an aggravated penalty for a second domestic assault/assault and battery, where conviction can result in up to 2.5 years in a house of correction or 5 years in state prison. Ch. 265, §§ 13A, 13M(a), (b).

In addition, a person convicted of or taking a continuance without a finding (CWOF) for a domestic assault or domestic assault and battery must complete a certified batterer’s intervention program, unless the court concludes, in written findings, that there is good cause to relieve the person of this requirement. Ch. 265, § 13M(d).

The penalty for conviction of this crime also includes a mandatory $50 fee that will be deposited in the Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance Fund and that will be controlled by the Department of Public Health to fund grants for domestic violence prevention programs. See ch. 17, § 20.

Waiting Periods

Persons charged with domestic assault/assault and battery, must now wait a period of 6 hours before a clerk or any other person authorized to take bail (other than a judge in open court) can admit him/her to bail. Moreover, if the Commonwealth chooses, it can make the accused wait a maximum of 3 hours after the complaint is signed before he/she is arraigned. Ch. 276, § 42A, 57, 58.

The mandatory waiting periods are significant, as defendants accused of this crime may now be waiting in jail longer than those accused of other crimes before they are released on bail. In addition, as to the 6 hour waiting period for bail, if a person is still in custody by the time he/she is arraigned, his/her lawyer will not be able to argue to the judge when requesting bail that the fact that the client was released by a clerk on bail and showed up for arraignment is proof that the client will show up for trial. With respect to the 3 hour waiting period for arraignment, should a defendant be charged late in the day, the 3 hours may expire after the court is closed, meaning that the person will not be arraigned until the following day.

Reporting Requirements

Lastly, there are new reporting requirements where domestic abuse is merely alleged. The law says that before any criminal defendant is released, discharged, or admitted to bail, the court must ask the Commonwealth whether domestic abuse is alleged to have occurred prior to or in conjunction with the crime charged. If this is the case, the Commonwealth must file a written allegation of domestic abuse. When the court is satisfied that there has been an allegation of abuse of a family or household member (as would be the case if a domestic assault or domestic assault and battery is alleged), the court must make a written ruling that such abuse is alleged and such a ruling will be included in a statewide domestic violence record keeping system. This 56A allegation, as it is commonly referred to, can only be removed if the person is subsequently found not guilty, if a grand jury has returned a no bill, or if the court makes a finding of no probable cause. The Commonwealth’s decision to dismiss the case will not remove the allegation from the statewide domestic violence record keeping system. See ch. 276, § 56A.

Although 56A allegations will not be included in the defendant’s criminal offender record information (CORI), so that employers and the general public will not be able to see such entries, these allegations will be listed on the defendant’s court activity record information (CARI). CARI records are used by courts and probation departments when making decisions that relate to the issuance of restraining orders and, in domestic relations cases, domestic relations protective orders. They are also used by juvenile courts when making decisions regarding custody and guardianship of children. Therefore, a 56A allegation can have wide-ranging consequences for the accused outside of the criminal case from which it was generated.

Harassment and Stalking

Criminal Harassment  and Stalking

A criminal harassment charge can be levied against you in Massachusetts for several reasons. For you to be found guilty, prosecutors must show that you willfully and maliciously engaged in a pattern of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to feel emotional distress.

In most cases, the person who is charged knows the alleged victim. You might have been in a romantic relationship or a business partnership, and the other person desired you to stop contacting him or her but you did not stop. Or, you may have had no relationship with the person but a recent event caused you to contact the person more than one time, and he or she has gone to the police.

Sentencing Guidelines

If you are found guilty of criminal harassment in Massachusetts, you can be jailed for up to 2.5 years and given a fine of $1,000 for a first offense. A second offense for criminal harassment can net you up to 10 years in jail.

A judge will consider several factors to determine what your sentence will be. For example, she may consider how much harm was done to the victim, any remorse that was shown, your criminal history and other factors.

Conviction for Criminal Harassment

For you to be convicted of criminal harassment, the prosecution needs to prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

Must show that you engaged in a pattern of conduct on at least three occasions that were directed at the alleged victim.

Must show that the actions could cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress.

Actions must have caused the alleged victim to be seriously alarmed.

Must show that you engaged in such actions willfully and with malicious intent.

Under the laws of Massachusetts, ‘substantial emotional distress’ is required for you to be convicted of criminal harassment. This is something more than mere uneasiness, nervousness or unhappiness.

The conduct that needs to be directed towards the alleged victim three times or more includes any type of exchange, be it in person, by phone, email, letter or text message. However, if you sent an email to another person who then forwarded it to the alleged victim, this would not be direct contact.

People who have been victims of abuse or harassment can petition the court for an Order of Protection or Restraining Order. The state of Massachusetts provides such victims with two types of relief: abuse prevention order and a harassment prevention order. both injunctions will require you to do or not do certain acts. If you do not comply with one of these orders, you can incur fines, probation and sometimes jail time. Abuse and harassment orders are most common in cases involving domestic violence, harassment and stalking.

Stalking Even More Serious

Stalking in Massachusetts is related to criminal harassment but is more serious. Stalking requires the prosecution to show that you made a threat with intent to make a person fear harm or death. If you are convicted of stalking in this state, you face up to five years in prison and a $1000 fine for a first offense.

If you are convicted of stalking in violation of a protection order, you will get a minimum mandatory sentence of two years and up to 10 years in prison.

Restraining Order Violations

Violations of Restraining orders (“209A” Orders), and Harassment Prevention Orders

Violations of Restraining and Harassment Prevention orders carry serious penalties, and such a charge can be brought against you on what seems like very little evidence.

Often the evidence supporting a charge of violating a restraining order is solely the testimony of the alleged victim.  A claim that someone violated the “no contact” or “proximity” provisions of the order can be brought solely on the basis of the alleged victim’s statement that she was contacted or the defendant came to her house or place of work, or was near her at a bar or restaurant.

But no matter how “good” the evidence appears, these cases are extremely serious.

Judges take these charges very seriously precisely because they begin with a court having issued a restraining order. A violation is a violation of a previous court order.

At your initial appearance, the judge can either detain you or may impose stringent conditions upon your release. Conditions may include house arrest, mandatory sobriety tests, ankle bracelets and drug testing. If convicted, in addition to any jail and probation time you must complete a 42-week batterer’s treatment program.

Penalties for violating a restraining order can vary from probation to significant jail time, depending on the nature of the violation and the criminal record of the person accused.  Violations can also have serious consequences for child custody and visitation, and other family court matters such as divorce cases.

Restraining order violations are misdemeanors and are handled in the district court. The penalty is up to 2.5 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.00, plus the batterer’s program and any other probation conditions the court orders.

What can constitute a restraining order violation?

A violation of any of the conditions set by the order is a criminal offense. A restraining order violation could arise out of an allegation that you made contact with an individual protected by a restraining order, by appearing either at their home or their work, or within a certain distance from the person or a place as defined in the order.  “Third party contact” is when you have someone else contact the person on your behalf.

Contact can include:

  • Phone contact;
  • In person contact;
  • Emailing;
  • Texting;
  • Commenting on a person’s social media post;
  • Sending or leaving notes or mail;
  • Causing a third party to contact the person on your behalf.

Another form of violation is “abuse” of the person protected by the order. Sometimes this is when there is a charge of a  assault and battery and at the time there was also a restraining order between you and the person assaulted. But it can could also happen when the only provision of the restraining order is “no abuse” of the person, and you get in a verbal argument or make threats to them.

Abuse can include threats, intimidation, or even causing utilities to be shut off at the home where the Plaintiff is living, even if you own the home.

Proving a violation of a restraining order.

In order to convict you of a restraining order violation, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • First, that a valid restraining order was issued against you by a court;
  • Second, that you received notice that the order was in effect or learned of the terms of the order;
  • Third, that you violated a term of the order; and
  • Fourth, that the order was in effect on the date and at the time of the violation.

Defenses to a charge of violating a restraining order.

If you were charged with violating a restraining order, you may have viable defenses, including but not limited to:

  • You were not served with the order;
  • That the contact did not violate the terms of the order;
  • That it was unintentional and simply accidental or “incidental” contact;
  • Even if there is a technical violation of the order that was not intended to abuse, threaten or intimidate the plaintiff, the penalty may be greatly mitigated;
  • That the contact or abuse never happened.

Charges of restraining order violations sometimes start out as “he said, she said” cases, but often phone records, screen shots of texts, or video surveillance recordings are found that either prove or disprove the charges.  Cases that seem simple at the outset can sometimes prove to be much less clear after some investigation.

A complainant may have a motive to lie about the violation.  The conduct may not be an actual violation, especially when an order has been modified to accommodate shared child custody or allows for some kinds of contact but not others.

If you are charged with violating a restraining order.

Most importantly, get yourself an experienced, qualified lawyer who has handled these kinds of cases before. This is not the time to wing it.

Unfortunately, if you are charged, you will be facing an uphill battle, because prosecutors can be particularly zealous in these cases.  Depending on the facts alleged against you, a judge is likely to impose bail, or hold you in custody as dangerous if the prosecutors request it.  You can expect to be treated by the court and prosecutors as if the allegations are true right from the start.  Domestic violence is a serious and dangerous issue, and courts and prosecutors will go out of their way to protect the “victim”, even before anyone has been found guilty of a violation.

Remember that from the moment someone makes an allegation of a restraining order violation against you, everyone, from the police to the prosecutors to the judge, will be watching you closely, looking for signs that you are “dangerous” or that you don’t take the court’s order seriously.

Remember that you are being observed and evaluated from the beginning. From the moment that you learn you are being accused, it is imperative that you:

  • remain calm, don’t argue or get excited or loud;
  • be respectful of police and court officials;
  • don’t try to explain – once the allegation is made, you are probably getting charged no matter what you say;
  • get a lawyer;
  • and again, don’t try to talk your way out of it, you will probably make your defense harder.

Most importantly, get experienced, qualified representation from a criminal defense lawyer who has handled restraining order violation cases successfully.

Motor Vehicle Homicide

Motor Vehicle Homicide

Any motor vehicle accident causing death is a horrendous experience for all involved. And if you are accused of negligently or recklessly causing someone’s death in a car accident, you can be charged with motor vehicle homicide or manslaughter by motor vehicle under Massachusetts law.

If you are accused of leaving the scene of an injury resulting in death, or if you were allegedly impaired during the accident, the criminal charges are compounded.

In addition to all this, your name will probably be in the news, particularly if it is an alcohol-related accident that resulted in someone’s death. That kind of stress and shame can be overwhelming if you have made a terrible mistake.

And, unfortunately, this is the type of tragic event that could happen to anyone. A momentary distraction that wasn’t even your fault can have deadly consequences. We’ve all had careless moments behind the wheel that could have resulted in a terrible accident.

I want you to know that you have rights, and you need and deserve proper legal defense representation in court. Whatever lead you to this situation, you are innocent until proven guilty. A defense attorney like myself will fight on your behalf to get you the best possible outcome.

When it feels like no one is on your side, please contact me for a confidential legal defense consultation.

Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Homicide Laws & Penalties

Motor vehicle homicide charges can be either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on if the driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs.

For any motor vehicle homicide conviction in Massachusetts, you face a 15-year license loss, and it could be lifetime license suspension (revocation) if you have a prior OUI conviction on your driving record.

Your license is immediately suspended upon being charged with motor vehicle homicide. You will have to have a hearing at the Registry to get your license reinstated even if you are acquitted.

Misdemeanor Motor Vehicle Homicide Charge – Massachusetts Penalties

A homicide by motor vehicle can be a misdemeanor charge in many cases.

A motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation is charged when you are accused of driving negligently or recklessly, resulting in a death.

The penalty for Misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide is:

  • a Minimum of 30 days in jail, or up to 2 ½ years in the House of Correction.
  • Fines range from $300-$3000.

clerk magistrate's hearingMisdemeanor charges where the officer didn’t witness the incident typically result in a criminal citation to appear at a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing, even with something as serious as a homicide.

These hearings are evidentiary procedures to determine if there is sufficient probable cause to move forward with a formal criminal charge and an arraignment. With a charge this serious, and the standard for probable cause so low, it can be difficult to win these hearings outright. However, the hearing itself is still an important step in preparing a defense, and evaluating any evidence the Commonwealth is planning to use to prosecute a case.

Felony Motor Vehicle Homicide Charge -Massachusetts Penalties

To be convicted of felony motor vehicle homicide, the Commonwealth must prove that your driving negligently or recklessly caused death, while you were under the influence of an intoxicating substance (alcohol or drugs).

The penalty for felony vehicular homicide under Massachusetts law 90 24G is:

  • A minimum 1 year in house of corrections, which must be served.
  • The maximum is 15 years in state prison.
  • Fine of no more than $5000.

You are not eligible for parole until after 1 year of sentence.

Ref: MGL Ch 90 Sec 24

Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle

With essentially the same standard of proof as felony motor vehicle homicide, you can potentially be indicted and face a more serious charge of manslaughter by motor vehicle (manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle) in Massachusetts Superior Court.

Penalties for vehicular manslaughter under Massachusetts law 265-13 are as follows:

  • Mandatory minimum 5 years in jail.
  • Maximum 5-20 years in prison.
  • Fines up to $25,000.
  • 15-year license loss
With the stakes this high, you need the help of a criminal defense attorney immediately. The quicker we can advise you on your case, the more options we will have and the more time we will have to prepare every possible defense option.
Please contact me immediately for a free and confidential legal defense consultation and case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can a homicide charge only be a misdemeanor?

It does seem surprising to many people, but if the incident was essentially a terrible accident – even if the accused may have made a mistake or displayed poor driving – it is still only a misdemeanor under Mass law.

It’s not so crazy. Terrible accidents do happen. If someone is tragically killed directly by someone else’s action, there is an understandable desire for someone to be responsible under the law.

But, every terrible thing doesn’t have an appropriate criminal legal remedy, and almost all of the time, there is no justice in seriously punishing someone who caused a tragic accident. There is no continuing public safety risk to be addressed for a freak incident, no matter how terrible.

You can get a ticket for a homicide and not be arrested?

Yes. That is how misdemeanor offenses work in Massachusetts. If the officer didn’t witness the offense, and it is a misdemeanor, you can’t be arrested.