The United States Constitution holds that a citizen is presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, there are some exceptions. In Massachusetts, an individual accused of a crime can be detained in the county jail, before his trial, for up to 90 days if he is deemed a “dangerous person.” This is known as pre-trial detention.
In addition to creating extra stress and hardship, pre-trial detention can impede the defendant’s ability to work with his lawyer on a defense. In most cases, a defense lawyer works with the defendant, immediately following a charge, to craft an effective defense while details are still fresh in his mind. During these crucial hours and days following a criminal charge, the defendant may:
- Provide contact information for witnesses.
- Visit the scene of the alleged crime with his lawyer.
- Provide details of the events leading to his arrest.
- Work with his attorney to gather important evidence.
If the defendant is locked in pre-trial detention during this important phase of the defense process, his chances of success are dramatically reduced. For this reason, among others, it is essential to find a Boston defense attorney who understands how to avoid pre-trial detention. And if, for any reason, your attorney is unable to remove such an order, he or she should understand how to use it to your advantage. When a defendant is subjected to pre-trial detention, his attorney is generally permitted greater access to the prosecution’s witnesses. During cross-examination, a skilled MA defense attorney can look for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and use them to the defendant’s advantage.
What Types of Crimes Can Place a Defendant in Pre-Trial Detention in MA?
This type of order is most commonly issued in domestic abuse cases, but the following scenarios may also result in the pre-trial detention of a defendant:
- Felonies involving “the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against the person of another.”
- Felonies that involved a “substantial risk” of physical force or injury even if no injury occurred.
- Violations of restraining orders.
- Misdemeanors or felonies involving abuse.
- Drug offenses with mandatory minimum sentences of three years or more.
- Third or subsequent motor vehicle offenses (generally involving drunk driving).
Prior to the issuance of a pre-trial detention order, a hearing must be held. The hearing is like a mini-version of the upcoming trial; the judge makes rulings and examines the facts. However, the hearing is also an opportunity for the defense attorney to learn a great deal about the prosecution’s evidence, or lack thereof.
What Factors Does a Judge Consider When Deciding if a Pre-Trial Detention is Necessary?
- The level of danger posed to the community by the defendant.
- The allegations of violence against the defendant.
- The potential penalties if the defendant is convicted.
- History of mental illness.
- The defendant’s reputation.
- The risk that the defendant will attempt to intimidate witnesses or obstruct justice.
- Past criminal record.
- Whether the alleged crime included abuse.
- History of restraining order violations, if any.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Criminal Defense Lawyers Serving Boston and the Surrounding Areas
If you are facing any type of criminal charge, the skilled defense team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been fighting for the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. Our talented, knowledgeable attorneys have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced or dismissed entirely. We will fight tirelessly to protect your rights, reputation, and freedom. We understand that people make mistakes. Don’t make another one by hiring the wrong attorney. If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.