Criminal Law

Crimes are split into three categories in Massachusetts (every state has its own definition of criminal laws, as does the Federal Government):

Violations/Infractions – Petty crimes, usually punishable by fines. Examples:

  • James got a speeding ticket for going 47mph in a 30mph zone.
  • Derek got a parking ticket for parking near a fire hydrant.

Misdemeanors – Less serious crimes, that are punishable by confinement in the House of Correction, probation, fines, or community service. Examples:

Felonies – Serious crimes, punishable by state prison, heavy fines, or other loss of rights. Examples:

  • James was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon after stabbing Ryan.
  • James was arrested after he killed someone while drunk driving.
  • James was just arrested for tax evasion.

Although many crimes result in individual victimization, the echoing effects can be felt throughout society. For instance, with a murder, it is impossible to truly know how many lives will be forever changed. A murder can make a once peaceful neighborhood feel unsafe, cause irreparable psychological harm to friends and family, or profoundly change a victim’s work environment, to name a few. The severity of the social harm caused by the criminal activity is usually what determines if removal from society is the appropriate punishment for the crime.

What does Prosecution mean?

Prosecution is the term for the legal proceedings instituted against a person accused of committing a crime. After an arrest is made, a person is “booked”. This refers to a series of events conducted by the police, including fingerprinting and photographing, also known as a “mugs hot”. During the booking process, the police frequently try to question the accused.  At no point is a person required to give a statement to the police. After the arresting officer has completed his/her report, the information is sent to the court and a prosecutor, who works for the government. The prosecutor will review the information to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with prosecuting an individual with a crime(s).

If the prosecutor decides to pursue charges, the Defendant appears at an “arraignment”. Here, the arrested individual will have the charges against them read by the presiding judge, and the accused with enter of a plea of either guilty or not guilty. Assuming a plea of not guilty is entered, the person will either be free until the next court appearance, be imprisoned unless they can post bail, or be remanded to custody without bail. The last alternative means imprisonment until a trial or plea bargain.  In general, the more serious the crime, the less likely the person will be freed without bail, or at all.

In light of the seriousness of being charged with a crime of any sort, it is highly advisable to consult reputable and experienced attorneys like those at Carter DeYoung.  The attorneys at Carter DeYoung have the knowledge and skill to ensure you receive the best results.