Penalties in Massachusetts

The Penalties You Could Face If Convicted Of a Felony Or Misdemeanor Offense In Massachusetts

If you are convicted of a criminal offense in Massachusetts, the type of sentence that is imposed will be left up to the judge’s discretion. Before a trial begins, a defendant has the option of submitting a plea form (referred to as a green sheet), and if the judge imposes harsher penalties than those recommended by their MA criminal defense attorney, the defendant can withdraw their plea and request that a trial date be set. If the defendant is subsequently convicted at trial, then the judge will impose a sentence, but he or she will also consider recommendations by the district attorney and the defendant’s lawyer.

In the Attleboro District Court, a recent case involving a charge of indecent assault and battery, saw a judge reject the victim’s request for jail time. The judge imposed the sentence that was recommended by the prosecuting district attorney. The prosecutor’s recommendation was based upon the defendant’s lack of criminal history. This leads to the question:

How does a judge determine what the appropriate sentence is after a trial is concluded?

The possible sentence a defendant faces will be determined by a number of factors, including:

  • How serious the charge was
  • What minimum mandatory punishments are required by law and the maximum penalty the law allows
  • The defendant’s criminal history
  • The district attorney’s recommendations
  • Recommendations made by the alleged victim

If a defendant has been convicted of a relatively minor offense, or does not have a prior criminal history, then they will most likely receive a sentence of probation, along with the mandatory completion of a program that addresses the issue raised at trial. For example, a Massachusetts defendant, who was convicted of a first offense DWI, would be required to complete an alcohol treatment program. Likewise, a sentence for a first time drug conviction would include drug treatment at an appropriate facility.

With any Massachusetts felony or misdemeanor offenses that go through a district court, the judge possesses the discretion to impose a sentence up to the maximum allowed by law. For someone who does not have a prior criminal history, a jail sentence is unlikely, but it is still a possibility. For example, an MA resident convicted of a domestic assault charge involving punching or choking would most likely face a short jail sentence, due to the violent nature of the crime.

Once a person has been charged with an offense, their first course of action should be to retain an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer. Our criminal defense attorneys work vigorously on behalf of our clients to obtain not guilty verdicts, or have the charges dismissed altogether, when possible; however, in the event of a conviction, our MA criminal defense attorneys strive to place the incident in the context of our client’s whole life in order to obtain a sentence involving probation, rather than jail time. If you are facing a felony or misdemeanor charge in Eastern Massachusetts, please contact our law offices today for a free review of your case.

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