Criminal defense in Massachusetts

Massachusetts criminal laws provides for varying legal penalties depending on the crime and whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony and whether prior offenses are involved. A misdemeanor is conceived as a lesser offense compared to a felony. Misdemeanors are punishable by fines and a possible prison term of up to one year. Felonies carry a more severe penalty with prison terms of over one year. You need to have an overview of criminal defense in Massachusetts to completely understand the consequences of any criminal charges.

Your Court Arraignment

If you have been arrested, you will be brought before a district court for arraignment. The charges against you will be read and your plea will be entered into the court records. You have the option of pleading not guilty, guilty, or no contest. In some instances the prosecution may be willing to negotiate what is called a plea bargain in which you plead guilty in consideration of lesser charges or other specific promises. This is where having an overview of criminal defense in Massachusetts can help you protect your rights

Your Rights in a Criminal Proceeding

In most criminal cases you also have the right to a jury trial but you can also choose to forego or waiver a trial by jury and plead guilty or you can go before the judge and have a bench trial where the judge try the case and determine your sentence. If you are found guilty you have the legal right to sentencing without unreasonable delay. You also have the right to appeal your sentence in which case, a judge may order a stay of execution of your sentence. This means that you not have to serve your sentence while you work on your appeal and until all appeals are final.

Appealing Your Sentence

You also have the right to appeal the severity of your sentence. Your appeal will be heard in superior court before a panel of three judges. They can decide whether you will receive a new hearing or not based on the facts you provide in your appeal. The judges have the option of increasing or reducing your sentence or they may choose to let the original sentence stand. You will be allowed a hearing if it is determined that the sentence needs to be increased. Again, having an overview of criminal defense in Massachusetts will help you to understand the appeals process and how it affects your case.