If you commit a crime in Massachusetts, you may find yourself in court, paying hefty fines, and possibly even doing time in jail or a state prison. Maybe you’re a first-time offender and your crime was an honest mistake. Maybe you have an extensive criminal record. Whatever the circumstances of your individual case, the help of a Boston criminal defense lawyer can help you determine your rights and options.
The statistics on MA crimes change from year to year, but the following criminal offenses tend to remain at the top of the list each year:
- Assault and battery
- Drug possession
- OUI (multiple offenses)
- Vehicular homicide
- Firearms and weapons charges
Penalties for the Most Common MA Crimes
If you are charged with any of these crimes, you may face the following penalties:
- Assault and battery: If you are convicted of assault and battery against another person, you could pay up to $1,000 in fines and serve a jail sentence of up to two-and-a-half years. If, however, the crime was committed against a child, you could face up to fifteen years in a state prison if the child was seriously harmed. Fines in cases involving children, government officials, and pregnant women may also be substantially higher.
- Drug possession: Penalties for drug possession, as with other offenses, are largely dependent on criminal history. They are also based on the type of drug in your possession. A class A drug such as heroin, for example, carries penalties of up to $2,000 in fines and up to two years in jail. A second offense, however, may put you in a state prison for up to five years. Charges for Class B possession, including cocaine and LSD, are a bit less severe, with up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in jail.
- OUI: First time OUI offenders may face a license suspension of up to 90 days, fines, and jail time. Penalties for second and subsequent offenses increase dramatically. A third offense becomes a felony and comes with up to $15,000 in fines and an eight year license suspension. You may also do up to five years in a state prison for a third OUI conviction. A Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer can help you determine the best legal strategy if you are facing OUI charges.
- Vehicular homicide: A person may be convicted of misdemeanor vehicular homicide if he or she caused a fatal motor vehicle accident while committing a misdemeanor offense (such as speeding). The penalty for misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide is up to two-and-a-half years in jail and fines of up to $3,000. If the defendant was engaged in reckless behavior (such as speeding while under the influence of drugs or alcohol), the resulting death may lead to a felony conviction. This could land you in a state prison for up to 15 years.
- Firearms and weapons charges: Possession of an unlicensed firearm could result in a prison sentence of up to five years. Although a sentence for a first-time offender isn’t likely to be that severe, gun crimes carry a mandatory minimum sentence of eighteen months. As with other crimes, prior convictions play a significant role in the penalties you face if convicted of this crime.