Arrest – When someone is arrested in Massachusetts, they are immediately brought to the police station and booked. Booking is the process of getting a picture taken, getting biographical information, and fingerprints. In most cases after booking a clerk or a bail, the commissioner is called to set an after-hours bail.
There is a statutory fee of $40. In cases of Domestic Violence, the law requires a cooling-off period of 6 hours before a bail commissioner or clerk can set bail. If bail is denied or if the person cannot post the bail the person is held at the police station until the court is usually the next day.
Summons- A summons is the notification of a court date. The court mails summons to the last known address. It is usually the only notice someone will receive about an upcoming court date.
Arraignment – The arraignment is the first court event. It is the formal charging of a crime. The clerk reads the charge aloud in the courtroom. In the District Court in Massachusetts, the clerk automatically enters a plea of Not Guilty. The judge then asks if the person is planning on hiring their own attorney or seeing if they qualify for a public defender.
The District Attorney can ask for bail or conditions of release. Even if bail has been set and posted at the police station the District Attorney can ask the judge to set an additional bail or impose conditions of release. If the District Attorney requests bail then there is a hearing. The judge must evaluate the case and set bail based on certain factors set forth in MGL 276.
If the case is relatively minor the person may deal with it themselves. The judge will sign a form waiving their right to counsel. After waiving counsel they may talk to the District Attorney about resolving the case.
Pretrial Hearing – A pretrial hearing is the second court event. The purpose of a pretrial hearing is for the attorneys to discuss the case. Many times it is the first time a lawyer appears on the case. Courts typically allow more than a few pretrial conferences. Witnesses, police officers, or accusers do not have to be present.
At a pretrial hearing ( also called a pretrial conference) is for the lawyers to discuss issues with the case. The parties can also discuss a possible resolution.
The defendant could enter a plea at the pretrial hearing.
Compliance and Election – Compliance and Election are court events to ensure all discovery has been provided. There are in-court and out-of-court compliance and election dates. Discovery is evidence either side wants to introduce at trial. When discovery is not provided the Judge may limit the introduction of the evidence and may even dismiss the case.
The defendant can enter a plea on a compliance and election date.
Motion – Motions are where one side is asking the Judge to make a legal ruling. Motions can either be evidentiary or non-evidentiary. An evidentiary motion has live witnesses. Examples of evidentiary motions are motions to suppress evidence or a stop. Non-evidentiary motions are questions of law. Examples of non-evidentiary motions are motions to dismiss for the lack of evidence.
The defense and the prosecution argue motions. Judges conduct the hearing and rule on the motion. The judge will issue a decision on the motion.
Status dates are when the parties are waiting for a judge’s decision on a motion.
Trial – The final date in a criminal case is the trial date. In District Court, a trial can either be before a judge or a jury. A jury consists of 6 people randomly selected from the community. On the day of the trial, all witnesses need to be present. If the main accuser fails to appear at a trial date the judge may dismiss the case. If both sides are ready the judge can immediately start the trial. At the end of the trial if the verdict is not guilty the defendant is free to leave. In the case of a guilty verdict the judge usually will impose the sentence then and there.
Ma. Criminal Lawyer
Massachusetts Criminal Attorney Donovan offers free consultations. And, his office is located in Quincy. It is close to route 93.
Attorney Donovan offers both evening and weekend consultations and will meet at places convenient to the client. Please call attorney Patrick Donovan at (617) 479-1800 for your free consultations.