Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

MASSACHUSETTS STATUTE ON SEALING CRIMINAL RECORDS

In 2010 the Massachusetts legislature passed (and the governor signed) the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Reform Act. The statute went into effect on May 4, 2012. Among other provisions, the new law shortens the waiting period before one is eligible to seal certain felonies and misdemeanors and puts greater limits on criminal record information given to employers and others.

Massachusetts differs from many other states in that its laws do not provide for expungement of criminal records. Expungement effectively erases records of criminal convictions, arrests, and police reports as if they never existed. Sealing, on the other hand, simply keeps those records confidential on some level. In addition, the sealing process in Massachusetts only applies to court and probation records and does not affect the records of the police or other arresting agencies.

Criminal Records that Are Eligible to Be Sealed

The sealing process generally does not happen automatically, and only applies to certain types of court and probation records. The following types of records may be sealed:

1.    Certain convictions or admissions, after the obligatory waiting period.

2.    Cases that were dismissed without probation, or that resulted in a not guilty finding. These records may be eligible to be sealed immediately.

3.    A recorded offense that is no longer a crime.

A defendant or attorney should request the relevant criminal records before applying to have them sealed, just to make sure they are eligible for sealing. There are numerous specific crimes for which, if you are convicted, you are not eligible to have the records sealed or the process for doing so is much more arduous than usual.

Changes to Record Sealing After CORI Reform

The CORI reform law makes the following changes to the process of sealing court records after a waiting period:

1.    Lowers waiting period to seal felonies from 15 to 10 years.

2.    Lowers waiting period to seal misdemeanors from 10 to 5 years.

3.    The clock on the waiting period now begins to toll either on the day the defendant is released from custody, or (if there is no incarceration) on the date of disposition. Under the old law, the clock did not beginl until the end of all court supervision, including incarceration, parole, and probation.

4.    Any new criminal conviction causes the waiting period to start over again. A defendant cannot get his criminal record sealed until the obligatory waiting period has passed since any criminal conviction.

5.    To apply to have a criminal record sealed, the petitioner should submit a one-page petition (available online) to the Office of the Commissioner of Probation.

As always, anyone attempting to navigate the criminal justice system will want to find quality legal representation with expertise in criminal law. If you have a criminal record in Massachusetts and are interested in having it sealed, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

See Related Posts:

MASSACHUSETTS MAKING STEADY PROGRESS IN REFORMING MANDATORY MINIMUMS

“WILL THIS GO ON MY RECORD?”: UNDERSTANDING CORI ACCESS 

 

SCHOOL ZONE RESTRICTIONS IN MASSACHUSETTS DRUG LAWS

On August 2, 2012, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law an omnibus crime bill that had been passed by legislature. The bill consisted of many disparate crime-related provisions, including a new “three strikes” statute called Melissa’s Law. Within Melissa’s Law was an important provision that drug policy reformers had been advocating for years; namely, the law included a reduction in the size and time requirements for drug violations that take place within school zones.

School zone provisions essentially add on an extra sentence for drug crimes that occur within what the legislature designates as a school zone. The previous law set the boundary at a 1,000 feet radius of any school. Criminal defense attorneys and justice reform advocates pointed out for years that, in parts of Boston and other Massachusetts cities, it was nearly impossible to not be within 1,000 feet of a school at any given time. In addition, the law made no distinction between drug crimes that took place during school hours and those that did not. The statute effectively allowed prosecutors to charge a large percentage of drug offenders with school zone violations, thus increasing the Commonwealth’s plea bargaining power and the length of sentences.

The 2012 amendment to the school zone provision reduced the area of the zones from 1,000 feet to 300 feet from a school. The new statute’s restrictions encompass headstart facilities, elementary, vocational, and secondary schools. The law now also provides a time exception, by excluding drug crimes that take place between midnight and 5 a.m. from the school zone statute. Reform advocates believe these changes better capture the spirit of the original law, by focusing on keeping drugs away from places where children congregate, during the time of day when children are likely to be there.

Anyone caught possessing or selling illicit drugs (under other provisions of the Massachusetts Controlled Substances Act) between 5 a.m. and midnight,  and within 300 feet of a school or 100 feet of a public park, can be charged with violating the school zone provision. The new law actually increased the mandatory minimum sentence for anyone convicted of violating the school zone provision. The minimum sentence these drug offenders can expect is a two year jail term along with a $1,000 fine. Defendants cannot use lack of knowledge of school boundaries as a defense when they are charged with a school zone violation.

Under the new statute, an offender convicted of a school zone violation is generally eligible for parole after serving half of the maximum sentence (15 years) he could have received. However, offenders who utilized guns during their crimes, who supervised another felon, who sold drugs to minors, or who supervised minors in selling drugs, are not eligible for parole, as these are considered aggravating factors. A Supreme Judicial Court decision from late last year found that the new law applies retroactively, thus providing relief for some defendants and prisoners.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts drug laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

See Related Posts:

MASSACHUSETTS MAKING STEADY PROGRESS IN REFORMING MANDATORY MINIMUMS

SUPREME COURT RULES THAT SCHOOL ZONE AMENDMENT APPLIES RETROACTIVELY

 

MASSACHUSETTS MAKING STEADY PROGRESS IN REFORMING MANDATORY MINIMUMS

In the early 1980s, the Massachusetts legislature passed the commonwealth’s first mandatory minimum laws for drug offenses. These laws took discretion out of the hands of prosecutors and judges and created fixed sentences based on the specifics of the crime committed. The length of the sentence is usually based primarily on the weight of the drugs with which the defendant was caught. The mandatory minimum laws were a response to a perceived increase in drug abuse in Massachusetts, and also a belief that other types of crime (including violent crime) tended to follow drug crime.

Over the past 30 years or so, mandatory minimum laws for drug offenses have become increasingly controversial, both in Massachusetts and around the country. Low-level drug offenders have wasted away in prison, while the overall rates of drug addiction and drug crime have either risen or stayed the same. The legislature has gradually reformed the drug sentencing laws to make them somewhat less harsh. Most recently, on August 2, 2012, the governor signed the 2012 Massachusetts Drug Sentencing Reform Law, which reduced the mandatory minimum sentences that courts must impose on drug offenders.

The 2012 law covers a series of drug distribution and trafficking offenses, and lowers the minimum sentence that a judge must impose on someone convicted of these crimes. The Massachusetts Controlled Substances Act divides illicit drugs into five classes: Class A (including heroin, morphine, codeine, and ketamine), Class B (cocaine, crack, amphetamines, methadone, LSD, and PCP), Class C (peyote and mescaline), Class D (marijuana), and Class E (non-narcotic prescription drugs).

The reform law shortened mandatory sentences for drug offenses by up to one-third. For example, the minimum sentence for someone convicted of a second time of distribution of a Class A substance is now 3½ years instead of five years. The minimum sentence for trafficking 100 to 2,000 pounds of marijuana was reduced from three years to two years. And the mandatory minimum for trafficking 100 to 200 grams of certain Class B substances was changed from 10 years to eight years.

In addition, the law significantly reduces the minimum fines that the court must impose. While the changes only apply to those who are convicted after August 2, 2012, the reforms will also have an impact on drug offenders who were already in prison when the new law was signed. Convicted drug offenders are now eligible for earlier parole, work release, and earned good time. While the 2012 law and some of the other previous reforms are steps in the right direction, the ultimate goal of sentencing reform advocates is to eliminate mandatory minimums altogether. This would restore judges’ discretion to determine sentences in each specific case, and would bring back some basic fairness to the justice system.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts drug laws, or have been given an excessive mandatory minimum sentence, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

See Related Posts:

Supreme Judicial Court Clarifies Drug Possession Law in Light of Marijuana Decriminalization

Supreme Judicial Court Rules that School Zone Amendment Applies Retroactively

 

Appeals Court Justices Split on Issue of Notice in Suspended License Cases

 

Massachusetts traffic laws can often be exceedingly complex, confusing, and illogical. In particular, there is an assortment of laws related to driving without a license or with a suspended license, with each offense carrying a distinct sentence. The devil, as always, is in the details. One of the crimes in this category that carries a particularly harsh sentence is that of operating a motor vehicle with a driver’s license that was suspended for OUI. The maximum penalty for this offense is two-and-a-half years in jail (with at least 60 days served), and an additional one-year loss of license.

In order to establish that a defendant committed a crime, the Commonwealth must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of driving with a license suspended for OUI are as follows: (1) Operating a vehicle on a public way; (2) with license suspended or revoked; (3) due to having previously admitted to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty of OUI; and (4) with proper notice that said license had been suspended or revoked.

In a recent case before the Massachusetts Appeals Court, a criminal defendant appealed his conviction for operating with a license suspended for OUI, on the grounds that he was not given proper notice of the suspension, and therefore that the Commonwealth did not prove the fourth element of the crime. In a 2-1 decision, the Appeals Court found for the Commonwealth, upholding the conviction. However, the dissenting judge, Justice Agnes, used some interesting reasoning that, if it were to be adopted by a majority of judges, would be beneficial to criminal defendants and defense attorneys.

The only evidence the Commonwealth presented pertaining to the fourth element was a docket entry included in a trial exhibit, showing that the defendant admitted to sufficient facts in his previous OUI case, and that the sentence included a 60-day loss of license. However, as Justice Agnes pointed out, the docket entry did not say that the defendant received notice that his license was suspended and that the suspension was effective immediately.

The majority reasoned that the docket entry provided a basis to make a reasonable inference that the defendant had notice of the suspension. However, Justice Agnes countered that an inference is not enough to prove the element beyond a reasonable doubt, if there is no additional corroborating evidence. Also, there were facts in the case that actually undermined the inference in question. Specifically, the defendant’s license should have been confiscated when he was convicted of OUI, but it apparently was not, since he had it with him when he was later pulled over.

Justice Agnes wrapped up his dissent by asserting that a criminal defendant’s Due Process rights place the burden on the Commonwealth to prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt, and that, in this case, it did not meet that burden. While Justice Agnes is an outlier at this point, his dissent does provide a glimmer of hope for some criminal defendants and defense attorneys who handle traffic crimes.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts traffic laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

See Related Posts:

HIGH-SPEED CHASE HIGHLIGHTS INCONSISTENT SUSPENDED LICENSE LAWS

SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT RULES POLICE OPINION INADMISSIBLE IN OUI CASES

 

 

High Speed Chase Hightlights Inconsisten Suspended License Laws

 

An 18-year-old driver from Bridgewater allegedly led police on a high-speed chase in the early morning hours about three weeks ago. According to a story in the Taunton Daily Gazette, the driver is facing multiple criminal charges, and will likely face more as the case moves forward. He was originally clocked going 91 miles per hour down a city street, and refused to pull over when an officer tried to stop him.

The chase took the driver and police down several streets in Bridgewater and West Bridgewater. Police were finally able to stop the driver when they used spike strips to puncture the two front tires of his car. When he was finally apprehended, the driver told police that he had refused to pull over because he did not have a license. Episodes like this one, which happen more often than we would like to think, illuminate the complexity and inconsistency of certain traffic laws, and the failure of most drivers to understand them.

The Massachusetts criminal and traffic codes are full of outdated, incoherent laws and punishments. One example is the incongruity in punishment for unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle as opposed to operation of a motor vehicle with a suspended license. According to the newspaper story, the driver in the high-speed chase did not have a license. The statutory punishment for that crime is a fine between $100 and $1,000.

However, if the driver had been operating a vehicle with a suspended license, depending on the circumstances, he could have faced jail time, a steeper fine, and a further suspension of his license. On the extreme end of the spectrum we find the crime of operating a motor vehicle with license suspended for OUI. This is punishable by up to two and a half years in jail (at least 60 days of which must be served) and a one year additional loss of license.

Notice that, even if a driver is not operating under the influence at the time he is arrested for driving without a license, he still faces a very harsh penalty. In other words, a driver who had a license at one time (so presumably passed a driving test) and lost it is generally subject to harsher penalties than a driver who never had a license in the first place. This counterintuitive dynamic creates confusion and bad incentives among drivers. Since most drivers are not lawyers and do not have a sophisticated understanding of the traffic laws, they often rely on anecdotal accounts from friends and relatives to inform them about the laws.

A driver whose friend went to jail for two years for driving with a suspended license might be frightened to stop for the police, even if he is only operating without a license. But in the story above, the driver is now facing charges of unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for police, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, speeding, marked lanes violation, failure to stop/yield, taking an improper turn and a one way traffic violation. And he could face even more, all to avoid (at most) a $1,000 fine.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts traffic laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

See Related Posts:

Supreme Judicial Court Rules Police Opinion Inadmissible in OUI Cases 

 

 

NEW MEDICAL MARIJUANA REGULATIONS LAY OUT PATIENT REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS

In 2012, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative allowing the use of cannabis for medical purposes within the state. The language of the initiative, which passed with the support of 63 percent of Massachusetts voters, stipulated that the Department of Public Health would develop and publish regulations for the implementation and management of the new medical marijuana program.

The extensive regulations, entitled “Implementation of an Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana,” provide detailed guidance to physicians, patients, caregivers, dispensary agents, and dispensaries. Of particular interest for the general public may be the section that details the process for the registration of qualifying patients. Correctly following these rules could be the difference between ending up in court as a criminal defendant, and sitting at home as a law-abiding citizen with a serious illness.

According to the regulations, in order to obtain a medical marijuana registration card, a qualifying patient must provide the following information to the Department of Public Health:

1.    The qualifying patient’s full name, date of birth, address, telephone number, and email address if any, and a statement indicating his or her age and that his or her primary residence is in Massachusetts.

2.    Written certification for the qualifying patient from the qualifying patient’s certifying physician.

3.    Full name, address, and telephone number of the qualifying patient’s certifying physician.

4.    Full name, date of birth, and address of the qualifying patient’s personal caregivers, if any.

5.    A statement of whether the qualifying patient will be applying for a hardship cultivation registration.

6.    A copy of the qualifying patient’s Massachusetts driver’s license, government-issued identification card, or other verifiable identity document acceptable to the Department, except in the case of a qualifying patient under 18 years of age who does not have to comply with such requirement.

7.    A non-refundable registration fee. If the fee poses a verified financial hardship, the qualifying patient may request a waiver of the fee in a form and manner determined by the Department.

8.    Written acknowledgement of the limitations on his or her authorization to cultivate, possess, and use marijuana for medical purposes in the Commonwealth.

9.    An attestation that the registered qualifying patient will not engage in the diversion of marijuana and that the patient understands that protections conferred by the Act for possession of marijuana for medical use are applicable only within Massachusetts.

10.  Any other information required by the Department.

Once a qualifying patient is granted a registration card, the card will be valid for one year. In order to renew the card, the patient must once again provide all the information listed above. The registered patient must notify the Department within five days if any of the information from the application changes. A registered qualified patient must carry the registration card at all times while in possession of marijuana.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts drug laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

See Related Posts:

Supreme Judicial Court Clarifies Drug Possession Law in Light of Marijuana Decriminalization

 

What Is a Crime?

We all have some idea (based on our own experience, moral intuition, common sense, and viewing of Law & Order) of what constitutes a crime in our legal system. We know that legislative bodies make rules of conduct, and that when citizens do not follow those rules, we face punishment. Courts determine whether we have broken the rules and what the punishment should be for doing so.

However, most Americans are not aware of the actual legal requirements for an action to be considered a crime. In order to win a criminal conviction against a defendant, the government must establish each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. There are four basic requirements that, when met, can produce criminal liability against a defendant in the American common law system. They are as follows:

1.    Actus Reus: Literally means “guilty act.” Generally the rule is that there must be an underlying act or a breach of legal duty to find the requisite actus reus. A fervent desire to do something cannot be punished, even if it proves that the defendant has a wicked heart. We also, in general, do not punish behavior that involves inaction or involuntary acts. Actus reus is probably the most straightforward of the elements of a crime, and many Americans assume it is the only requirement for a crime.

2.    Mens Rea: Latin for “guilty mind.” Mens rea can generally be defined as criminal intent, ill-will, malice, knowledge, awareness, or purpose. Not all crimes have a mens rea requirement. Some use a strict liability approach, in which inherently dangerous behavior is punished, regardless of intent. According to the Model Penal Code, there are four levels of mens rea intent: purposefulness, knowledge, recklessness, and negligence. Most criminal statutes specify which level of intent is needed to establish liability.

3.    Concurrence: The simultaneous occurrence of both actus reus and mens rea. If the defendant thought about committing an illegal act one week, and then accidentally committed the same act a week later, the concurrence element would probably not be satisfied and a crime would not be committed. There are two types of concurrence in criminal law: temporal concurrence and motivational concurrence. Temporal occurrence means the mens rea and actus reus occurred at the same time. Motivational occurrence means that the mens rea motivates the actus reus. Strict liability crimes do not require concurrence.

4.    Causation: The causal relationship between conduct and result. The actus reus must cause the actual harm or result that occurs. If you shoot a person with the intention of killing him, and the bullet misses all his vital organs, and then he dies a few hours later of an unrelated terminal illness, the causation element of murder is probably not established. Both but-for cause and proximate cause must be present to prove causation. Results that are unforeseeable generally do not satisfy the causation element.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts criminal laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

 

Supreme Judicial Court Rules Police Opinion Inadmissible in OUI Cases

 

Last month, the Supreme Judicial Court issued a ruling that will have far-reaching consequences for criminal cases involving charges of Operating under the Influence (OUI). In Commonwealth v. Canty, the SJC ruled that, in an OUI case, a police officer’s opinion as to whether the defendant’s driving was diminished by alcohol consumption is inadmissible in court. While an officer can testify that he believed the defendant was drunk or intoxicated, he cannot give an opinion regarding the ultimate issue in the case.

OUI cases turn on whether the defendant’s driving was impaired by alcohol, so in stating an opinion as to this issue, the officer is effectively saying that he believes the defendant is guilty. This interferes with the ability of the fact trier (a judge or jury) to independently determine guilt or innocence, and therefore this sort of testimony is not admissible.

In Canty, one of the arresting officers testified that, in his opinion, alcohol diminished the defendant’s driving ability. The SJC ruled that this testimony essentially amounted to one witness’ opinion about the ultimate issue to be decided by the trier of fact. However, another officer’s testimony that the defendant was probably impaired was ruled admissible, because it did not address the defendant’s driving.

The SJC actually upheld the defendant’s conviction, ruling that the error in admitting the first officer’s testimonies was not dispositive. The defendant had pled guilty, and enough admissible evidence was presented during his trial to convict him even without the first officer’s inadmissible testimony.

Prosecutors for years have utilized a line of questioning in OUI trials that allowed the jury to hear the arresting officer’s opinion about the defendant’s ultimate guilt or innocence. The prosecutor would start by restating the officer’s testimony up to that point, and then would ask if, based on those observations, the officer was able to form an opinion about whether the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle had been diminished by alcohol consumption.

The officer would answer that yes, he had formed an opinion, and the prosecutor would ask him what that opinion was. The officer would then repeat his testimony again, and state that, based on those observations, he formed an opinion that the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle had indeed been diminished by alcohol consumption. The SJC’s decision in Canty effectively banned this sequence of questions. Police officers can still express an opinion that the defendant was intoxicated, but not that he is guilty of OUI.  

OUI is one of the most common crimes charged in Massachusetts. Police officers often commit procedural errors while investigating and arresting a suspect for OUI. It is paramount for a defendant in an OUI case to be represented by an effective criminal defense attorney. An attorney who has experience with OUI cases can pick apart every detail of the Commonwealth’s case and may be able to get the charges dropped or win a Not Guilty verdict in court.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts criminal laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

 

Supreme Judicial Court Clarifies Drug Possession Law in Light of Marijuana Decriminalization

Last week the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court released an important decision, generally favorable to defendants, dealing with marijuana possession laws and how to determine whether a suspect intends to distribute the drugs in his possession.

The juvenile defendant in Commonwealth v. Humberto H. was charged on January 24, 2011 with possession of a Class D substance (marijuana) with intent to distribute, in violation of G.L. c. 94C, § 32C, and a delinquency complaint issued later that day. A Boston school police officer, after conducting an administrative search of the juvenile, found five plastic bags of marijuana on his person, totaling one half ounce in weight.  

A district court judge later dismissed the complaint against the juvenile, stating that the evidence did not support a finding of probable cause that the juvenile intended to distribute the marijuana. The Commonwealth appealed the decision, and the case eventually made its way to the SJC.

In 2008, Massachusetts voters decriminalized possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. However, possession of less than one ounce with intent to distribute remained a crime. In order to prove this crime, prosecutors must show probable cause that the accused intended to distribute the drugs.

In Commonwealth v. Humberto H., the Court found that the five bags of marijuana were not packaged in a manner or weight consistent with intent to distribute. Therefore, according to the SJC, the lower court did not err in dismissing the charges. The Court also noted that the dismissal was without prejudice, and that the Commonwealth would be able to file a new delinquency complaint against the juvenile if it were to present evidence supporting a finding of probable cause of intent to distribute.

In addition, the SJC reflected on the strategic changes to policing and prosecution following passage of the decriminalization ballot initiative. Prior to 2008, when a suspect was allegedly caught with less than an ounce of marijuana, prosecutors would often charge him with simple possession even when there may have been probable cause that the suspect intended to distribute the marijuana.

Since the decriminalization, the only options available to prosecutors in this situation are to charge the suspect with possession with intent to distribute, or to charge him with nothing. Therefore, both police and prosecutors may have an incentive to infer intent to distribute even when probable cause cannot be established. The SJC stressed the need for law enforcement to avoid this temptation, since doing so would undermine the intent of Massachusetts voters. While prosecutors are entitled to change how they exercise their discretion in light of decriminalization, they must do so in a way that is consistent with the law.

This case may have important implications for criminal suspects and criminal defense attorneys. It makes it more likely that suspects, with effective legal representation, will be able to convince prosecutors and judges to drop or dismiss charges of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana with intent to distribute.

If you have been charged with violating Massachusetts criminal laws you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

 

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/blog/supreme-judicial-court-rules-school-zone-amendment-applies-retroactively 

 

Mall Santa Faces Indecent Assault and Battery Charges after Allegedly Pinching Co-worker’s Buttocks

Hanover, Massachusetts shoppers have more to be upset about than Black Friday crowds this week now that a mall Santa Claus faces criminal charges. A 62-year-old Hanover Mall photo display Santa is charged with indecent assault and battery after allegedly touching a female employee in an inappropriate sexual manner.

According to kionrightnow.com, 62-year-old Herbert Jones, a Santa Claus working for Cherry Hill Photo, pinched the buttocks of his female co-workers this week at the picture display booth where they both worked. Mr. Jones was allegedly sitting in the Santa Claus chair when he made the offensive move, and told the co-worker that he wished she were younger as he pinched her. While reports indicate that there were no child witnesses to the inappropriate behavior, many mall shoppers are uneasy about the thought of a Santa facing criminal charges for indecent assault and battery. Cherry Hill Photo reportedly denies the allegations of misconduct and Mr. Jones is innocent until proven guilty.

Indecent, or sexual, assault and battery is a crime that is distinct from ordinary assault and battery in that it contains the element of offensive touching on certain parts of the victim’s body. Under Massachusetts criminal laws, indecent assault falls into two different categories for the purposes of sentencing: indecent assault and battery against a person 14-years-old or older; and indecent assault and battery against a child under 14-years-old. When a person is convicted of indecent assault and battery against a victim that is 14-years-old or older, he or she may be sentenced to up to five years in a state prison, or up to two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction. However, if the victim is either an elderly person or a person with a disability, as further defined under the law, the offender may be sentenced up to ten years in prison, or two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction. A subsequent conviction is punishable by up to twenty years in prison. A first-time offender of indecent assault and battery against a child under 14-years-old may be subject to a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment in a state prison, or up to two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction.

It is important to note that not only does an indecent assault and battery offense come with a potentially lengthy prison sentence, it also come with the penalties and consequences that are associated with a “sex offense.” A conviction on a crime that is a “sex offense” requires convicted persons to comply with sex offender registration requirement, which can impact all avenues of a person’s life once he or she is out of prison.

Indecent assault and battery, and all “sex offenses, are very complex cases and skill and experience are necessary in order to understand the full range of consequences of a conviction. If you have been charged with a sex offense, or any criminal offense under Massachusetts law, your best line of defense is to immediately speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, today for a confidential consultation.

See Related Stories:

Alleged Assault and Battery By Means of a Deadly Weapon at Boston Bar

Middlesex Appeals Court Sets Aside Verdict of Sex Offender on Accosting or Annoying Charges, Affirms Attempted Kidnapping Charges

 

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