Archive for the ‘College Student Crimes’ category

Sealing a criminal record in Massachusetts

November 22, 2013

Sealing Your Criminal Record

            Sweeney and Associates often receives calls regarding whether a person can seal their criminal record. The first thing we advise our clients is to obtain a certified copy of the docket sheet from the court regarding your case and the second is to hire an experienced attorney to represent you in the process. The docket sheet from your case is important because it states the disposition of your case. Depending on how your case was resolved, there are different laws that apply to whether and when you can apply to have your record sealed.  Attorney Sabrina Bonanno has extensive expertise in sealing criminal records in Massachusetts and can assist you in ensuring it is done correctly.  Call her at 617-328-6900.

On May 4, 2012, changes to the sealing laws in Massachusetts became effective. This means that individuals previously ineligible to have their records sealed due to time limitations or the type of disposition in their case, i.e. continued without a finding, pretrial probation, dismissal, or plea or conviction of guilty, may now be eligible to request that either the court or the Commissioner of Probation seal their record.

Section 131 of c. 256 amended G.L. c. 276, § 100C to allow judges to seal cases that were continued without a finding upon dismissal of the case. Dismissal of the case occurs upon an individual’s completion of their probationary term. If your case was continued without a finding, if you were found not guilty, if the District Attorney’s Office entered a nolle prosequi, or your case was dismissed, then on the day or any day thereafter you can request that your record be sealed by filing the appropriate documents. In these instances, an experienced attorney from our office would file a Motion to Seal with the court along with an Affidavit explaining why your record needs to be sealed.  It is important to note, that in order to seal your record, we have to show that you would suffer a specific harm if the record is not sealed. The benefit of hiring Sweeney & Associates is that we have successfully sealed client’s records and are very familiar with not only the process of preparing and filing the appropriate documents but also of what information we need to provide to the court so that the court will allow your record to be sealed.

The process for sealing your record begins with filing the motion and affidavit. Once this is done, there will be a preliminary hearing where a judge will determine whether we have established a prima facie case to seal your record. While you can waive your presence at this hearing, we always recommend that we attend the hearing to answer any questions the judge may have and to make sure the judge puts a face with the name on the paperwork.

Once we establish a prima face case, then there will be a formal hearing. The formal hearing takes place at least 7 days after we have given public notice that you are requesting your record be sealed. Also, the Commonwealth, probation department, any other interested party (for ex. a victim in the case), is allowed to argue for or against you being allowed to seal your record. If the judge finds in our favor, then your record will be sealed.

The sealing laws have also changed for those who plead guilty or were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Sections 128 and 129 of c. 256 made several amendments to G.L. c. 276, § 100A. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you can request your record be sealed after 5 years. Previously you had to wait 10 years. If you plead guilty or were convicted of a felony, you can request your record be sealed after 10 years. Previously you had to wait 15 years. The calculation begins to run when you are released from incarceration or if you were not incarcerated then upon the disposition of your case. Generally, however, if the conviction was for a sex offense, you still have to wait 15 years to request your record be sealed. Based on your classification, you may be ineligible to request your record be sealed. Under this law, we submit an application directly to the Commissioner of Probation to seal your record instead of going before a judge.

If you are interested in sealing your record or want to find out if you are eligible to seal your record call Sweeney and Associates at 617-328-6900 today and speak with a highly reputable and experienced attorney or email us at rsweeney@rsweeneylaw.com .

Possession of a Fake ID – Loss Of License in Massachusetts

January 23, 2013

Every year students will find a way to get their hands on a fake ID that they can use to buy alcohol or gain access to the local nightclub or bar.  Every year the police ramp themselves up in college towns across America to find these students and charge them with Being a Minor Purchasing Alcohol and will confiscate these IDs when they make the arrest.   Others will find themselves in bars when the police enter to check IDs.  Then the problems begin. 

The wise student has in his or her possession a fake ID which actually belongs to someone else and has another picture and someone elses information on it.  They will explain to the police that they do have an id (show the correct ID to the police believe me) and they also have “found” or are in possession of someone else’s ID because they intend on returning it or some version thereof.  In my previous life as a Boston Police Officer I can assure you I have heard every variation and I can equally assure you that the local police have also.

However there are now places where those that are under 21 will go and get their own picture on an out of state license with their own information but a, somehow, mistaken birthdate that makes them 21 years of age.  These licenses, or fake IDs, will serve their purpose until such time as the police take a look at it and then you will face charges but with less of a defense in court that you were “holding it for someone else who lost it”.  

The punishment in Massachusetts is a $300 fine which most students mistakenly pay and walk out of court without mom and dad knowing anything.  The problem is that you now have a criminal record and the court will then notify the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles which will promptly send notice to your home that your Massachusetts Driver’s License is being suspended for 18o days!  Now that’s a problem to most students and others under 21 (and their parents).

Here’s the advice:

1.  Don’t have a fake ID.

2.  Assuming no one listened to #1 above then, if and when, you are arrested or summonsed to court be SMART and have an attorney with you THE FIRST TRIP TO THE COURTHOUSE to try to stop the process at the initial hearing with a fine, community service and an alcohol program (mandated by courts sorry) and head the problem off before they send notice to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.   Be aware that some police departments have policies that mandate that the officer transmit the information to the Registry when they arrest you. 

3.  If you have already been notified that your license is to be suspended then contact an attorney to appeal the ruling as you ARE ELIGIBLE TO GET A “CINDERELLA LICENSE” that will allow you to drive for twelve hours a day. 

Contact us at 617-328-6900 and we can assist you to try and prevent a criminal record and the ensuing loss of license.  We can also assist you at the Registry Hearing where the Board will decide whether you meet the requirements for a twelve hour license.  You are NOT entitled to a twelve hour license and that is where an experienced attorney can help make sure you get one granted to you.   For more information check out our website at www.rsweeneylaw.com .  Also feel free to email me at rsweeney@rsweeneylaw.com

Having the fake ID was your first mistake, using it was your second, not getting an experienced attorney involved as soon as possible will be your third.  Let us, or the attorney of your choice, help you.

What Happens If You Get Arrested in Massachusetts

January 17, 2013

I was just arrested now what?

First, invoke your right to remain silent.  Shut up.  Do not give any confessions.  Do not give any statements.  Do not sign anything that even remotely smells like a statement or admission.  You have a constitutional right not to make a statement to the police.

Second, demand to speak to your lawyer, immediately.  You have a constitutional right to speak to your lawyer before questioning by the police, but only if you request one.  Once you have demanded to speak to your attorney do not speak to the police until your lawyer speaks to you.  The police DO NOT have to get a lawyer for you but they do have to stop questioning you.

Third, do not talk to your cell mates regarding your case.  They may inform on you to get leniency in their cases.  You may have to talk to them but you do not have to discuss the specifics of your case.

Fourth, if you are arrested for Driving While Intoxicated you should refuse to give a breath sample if you have had anything at all to drink.  You should refuse to participate in any field sobriety test.  If you have been drinking you should refuse to admit anything at all.  If you have “an odor of alcohol on your breath” you will most likely be arrested anyway as almost every police officer will not gamble his future on letting you go with the possibility that you may end up in an accident or cause an accident.  Any admission is likely to result in your arrest anyway.  Giving a breath test that shows a blood alcohol over .08 is going to be admissible as evidence and may be the basis for a conviction alone. Failing a field sobriety test is admissible and may result in conviction.  You have the right to remain silent and to refuse to give evidence about yourself so USE THAT RIGHT!

Fifth, even if you cannot afford to hire an attorney you can have one appointed for you.  When you do this you will be getting the next lawyer in line that day.  Most of these attorneys are excellent but you need an expert in drunk driving so you should plead “not guilty,” tell the judge you will hire your own attorney, and ask for copies of all of your reports from the court so that you may give them to the attorney of your choice.  If you cannot afford an attorney, the court has documents for you to fill out to see if you are eligible for a court appointed attorney.  Ask for these when you report to probation the very first day in court.

If you have been arrested and would like more information or assistance, feel free to contact us at (617) 328 -6900 or visit our website at www.rsweeneylaw.com.

New England Patriots, UMass Football and Gillette Stadium Concert fans are being arrested in record numbers.

September 29, 2012

Every week UMass Football fans, New England Patriots fans, and concert goers are arrested at Gillette Stadium and in Foxborough Massachusetts by officers patrolling the stadium, roadways and the surrounding parking lots.  There is a large police presence at these events and they are looking for Fake IDs, drunken behavior and DUI’s. You can be issued a trespass order and if you don’t comply you find yourself under arrest. If you find yourself arrested and charged with a crime a good attorney can assist you in getting a diversion program or help you win your case in Wrentham Court.  We are experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorneys familiar with Wrentham Court and Gillette Stadium arrests.  Our attorneys have a combined experience of more than forty years of successfully defending people arrested for crimes all over Massachusetts.  Make us your law firm.   Call the law office of Sweeney and Associates in Massachusetts at 617-328-6900, or feel free to email any questions you may have on this or any Massachusetts Criminal Law to me at RSweeney@RSweeneylaw.com.   Please visit our web page for more information on a variety of topics at www.Rsweeneylaw.com.

Massachusetts Drug Lawyer

October 25, 2010

Defending Against Criminal Drug Charges

This article is intended to provide clients who are under investigation or have been charged with possession, distribution or trafficking in cocaine, heroin, oxycodone or other Class A or Class B narcotics in Massachusetts.  It is written by a retired Boston Police Sergeant, now criminal defense lawyer, with extensive experience in the investigation of drug crimes from initial investigations, to search warrants to actual indictment and arrests of hundreds of people charged with drug crimes in Massachusetts.  That expertise has allowed me, now as your attorney, to look closely at the charges against you and to find the best possible defense in your particular case. 

Always remember that each case is unique in its investigation, the officers involved and the court in which you are charged.  This local knowledge is helpful in knowing how the court is likely to react to your charges.

Anyone accused of a drug crime should follow the advice of an attorney experienced and knowledgeable in the defense of selling, trafficking, delivering, or conspiracy to sell, traffic, or deliver cocaine, marijuana, oxycontin, oxycodone, GHB, or other drug, and who is familiar with the specific facts of the individual’s case.   This is a general article and not meant as specific legal advice in your particular case. 

Introduction

Defending a person arrested, indicted, or charged with selling or conspiracy to sell illegal drugs present unique and special challenges that many other criminal charges do not present. Unlike crimes such as robbery or assault which the government investigates after the fact; when the government conducts an investigation in the sale, conspiracy to sell, or the trafficking in drugs the government will often target individuals and “build a case” against the targeted individual.  In the typical investigation of the sale or the conspiracy to sell or traffic in drugs the government can take its time and build its case. Wiretaps, the use of confidential informants, undercover agents, accountants to comb thru financial records, video and audio surveillance, are all tools that the government will often employee in conducting a drug investigation.

If the government does not have enough evidence they simply continue to investigate  such as surveillance of the targeted individual or switch to a proactive investigation and introduce undercover agents or “confidential informants” in an attempt to entice the target of the investigation to commit criminal acts. (Note: One exception to this scenario is the vehicle stop where the police stumble upon a large amount of drugs.) Due to the extreme complexities and unusual nature of a drug sale, conspiracy or trafficking case and the extreme and harsh penalties often inflicted upon those convicted of such crimes with sentences which can reach up to life in prison, it is extremely important that anyone facing such charges hire an attorney experienced and qualified in defending against allegations of drug selling, dealing, and drug trafficking.

The most important defense against drug charges involves being aggressively proactive in seeking information regarding the investigation and the agencies or departments involved.  Also the amount of drugs you are alleged to possess will play a huge part in your case as, in Massachusetts, the drug must be tested and the actual person who tested the drug must testify at your trial.   With limited money and resources the state almost always reserves these individuals for bigger cases and you have an opportunity at trial to have the drug evidence thrown out under these circumstances if they cannot prove the substance is in fact the illegal drug they state it is.  We are aggressive in filing pre-trial motions that force the state to divulge as much information regarding the investigation and arrest as possible to better understand the case against you and the possible defenses available to you.

Anyone attempting to formulate a defense to an allegation of drug sale, drug conspiracy, or drug trafficking, should also consider the following factors when developing the plan of defense.

Hire an Attorney Immediately Who Has Experience Handling Drug Cases

Serious and irreparable mistakes can be made by the targeted individual who tries to deal with the government himself before or instead of hiring an attorney. Because the government will employ tricks or lies to get the person to agree to a search or to make a statement these individuals will usually make the huge mistake of agreeing to a search of their home, car, or other private premises, and will also often make the huge mistake of making a statement to the government. I do not know of any person who has ever been convicted of a crime for keeping quiet or for being uncooperative with the government but I do know of plenty of individuals who have talked themselves into a conviction or consented to searches that resulted in a conviction which could have been avoided had the individual first kept quiet and refused to cooperate and hired an attorney.

Hiring an attorney immediately has further benefits. When targeted by the government and under investigation or arrest or indictment for the sale, trafficking or conspiracy to sell and traffic of cocaine, marijuana, oxycontin or other drugs the targeted individual needs to take action by having an attorney and our private investigator making sure that the investigator is speaking to witnesses and potential witnesses, collecting documents and evidence which are exculpatory, making sure that favorable witness statements are locked in early so that it becomes more difficult for the witness to turn against you and later make an allegations in an attempt to save themselves from prosecution when the government starts to reward or threaten witnesses or co-defendants with charges they may be facing.

Another reason that it is extremely important to have an attorney involved as soon as possible especially if the targeted individual is in fact guilty and the State has a strong case is that it may be in that persons best interest to become the cooperating witness. In such cases it is often the first defendant in a large conspiracy that agrees to cooperate with the government that will receive a significant reduction in their ultimate sentence or possibly avoid a conviction. Those who hold out and go to trial or later plead guilty are often left facing much longer prison terms. Deciding whether to become the cooperating witness or to hold out and fight the charge to the end is possibly the most difficult and most important decision one faces. It involves considerations of whether the target is actually guilty, the strength of the government’s case, the extent of the exposure (potential sentence or prison term), whether there is danger of violent reprisal from other members of the criminal enterprise, and the personal values of the person who is under investigation. Due to the complexity of this decision it simply should not be made without the advise of an attorney who can assess the strength of the government’s case, possible defenses, and the potential sentence if a conviction is obtained by the government, and who can take measures to insure as much as possible that the government will honor any promises it makes.

Any criminal defense attorney who believes that he can match the power and resources of the government or leads his client to believe such a thing is not very experienced. Even an army of criminal defense lawyers or the largest law firms cannot match the government’s financial resources, its manpower and its resources to find and use “cooperating witnesses”.   However, this does not mean that a defendant cannot win. The government can and has been beaten. The key is to remember that the only thing that the defense attorney needs to do is to convince the jury that there is reasonable doubt. Granted, getting the jury to see that there is reasonable doubt is sometimes easier said than done. Often times however, what appears to be an impossible case for the Defendant to win can in fact be won by simply finding that one weak spot in the government’s case and exploiting that weak spot. Taking out one aspect of the government’s case, or showing one key government witness to be a fraud and a liar, or showing how federal agents and police officers can make serious mistakes in judgment and perception, or showing the willingness of the government to violate rights, can cause a jury to sometimes see the governments entire case in a different light.

In almost all cases political pressure will often dictate what types of cases will be prosecuted and how aggressively. Few types of crimes have been the focus of as much political focus as drug crimes. In fact no other type of crime has been the subject of an official “declaration of war”. The result of this political pressure and the declared “war on drugs” is the desire of the politicians to appear tough and aggressive. They are therefore often reluctant to abandon cases that should be abandoned and will sometimes seek the mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases to show they are tough on crime.  This often results in a grave injustice to the defendant.

Almost every serious drug prosecution will involve a charge of conspiracy. Prosecutors love conspiracy charges because the law of conspiracy encompasses a wide variety of activity.  Witnesses should be located and affidavits obtained for pre-trial use and for locking in the witnesses testimony for trial that verify the relationship with the other defendants or conspirators was familial, social, or a legitimate business and that these witnesses observed no criminal activity by the client. Financial, real estate, personal property, and legitimate business records should be obtained to demonstrate that the Client is not living an extravagant life style and is not wealthy, as one would expect if the person were involved in a drug conspiracy. If the targeted individual does have significant wealth evidence of legitimate sources of that income should be gathered. The targeted individual with wealth may need to hire accountants to testify as experts as to the legitimate sources of income of the targeted individual.

A “cooperating individual” is the person who agrees to testify on behalf of the government in return for an agreement from the government for a reduction in that person’s sentence, or sometimes even the dismissal or agreement not to file charges against the “cooperating individual”. In short a police officer will catch a suspect with drugs and offer him a deal if he cooperates and turns in a “friend”.  The secret to this arrangement is that rarely will the “cooperating individual” or the government directly and expressly acknowledge that a deal was made. The officer will usually tell the cooperating individual that he cannot make any promises but that if the individual testifies against the other defendant(s) that the prosecutor will take his cooperation into consideration later on. Therefore the “cooperating individual” when cross-examined will attempt to claim that he was not promised anything and that he has just seen the error of his ways and is doing his “civic duty”. It is therefore extremely important that an attorney defending a person charged with a drug offense be very skilled in cross-examination and be able to demonstrate thru cross-examination that the cooperating witness will say or do anything including lie under oath and take down an innocent person if that is what it takes to save his own skin. The difference that a skilled cross-examiner can make in this situation as compared to the in-effective cross-examiner can very well be the difference in many cases between a guilty verdict and a not guilty verdict. It is further extremely important to do as much of a background investigation on the “cooperating individual” as possible in order to obtain extrinsic evidence such as previous criminal convictions in order to attack the credibility of the cooperating individual.

Do not Cooperate with the Government Before Getting Legal Advice

One of the most important things that any person under arrest or investigation for the sale, conspiracy to sell, and the trafficking in drugs needs to understand is that there is almost never any benefit in consenting to a search, agreeing to make a statement, or agreeing to cooperate unless and until an attorney has been consulted and has worked out an understanding with the government on your behalf. When I say almost never I mean that in 10 years as a criminal lawyer I have never seen a targeted individual’s cooperation provide him with significant benefit unless an attorney worked out the deal, it may have happened but I have never seen it. Many individuals believe that a police officer cannot lie to you and believe that if the government’s agent says that they are going to help you they are legally and duty bound to honor that promise, this is not true. Government agents are allowed to lie, at least to a certain extent. They can lie about what evidence they have when interrogating a defendant. They can make implied promises and then claim that no express promise was made.

Although there are times that cooperating with the government can be a person’s best option to avoid a criminal conviction or a much longer prison sentence any “deal” needs to be negotiated by a qualified criminal attorney because if the government can get what they want from the targeted individual without providing him anything in return they are happy use him and then leave him to “hang”.

Plea Bargaining

Plea-bargaining which is the term for the defendant agreeing to a lesser sentence in return for his agreement not to take the case to trial and / or in return for his cooperation in the prosecution of other individuals is an art.

There are two things that in my opinion greatly help in the ability of a defense attorney to be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain. The first is whether the defense attorney has a reputation as an attorney who is willing to take a case to trial and who is at minimum a competent defense lawyer. Prosecutors are not likely to give a favorable plea bargain to a defendant who is represented by an attorney that they know does not like to or who is afraid to take a case to trial or who is incompetent. Why should they? They know they will get what they want in the end. The more willing the defense lawyer is to take a case to trial, the better he is, and the more he will make the prosecutor work for any conviction he may hope to obtain often greatly enhances the ability of that defense attorney to negotiate a favorable plea bargain. If a prosecutor knows that he will have to work much harder (which means spending his weekends preparing for trial) or that he may not get a conviction at all because the defense lawyer knows what he is doing the prosecutor will often be more likely to offer that lawyer a better deal. The second factor that in my opinion greatly helps the ability of a defense attorney in the art of plea-bargaining is if the defense attorney has had prior experience working as a police officer or a prosecutor and has established relationships with the police and the district attorney’s office.

Taking into account knowledge of the prosecutor’s job and each particular prosecutor’s personality is very important in plea negotiations. There are times during negotiations to take a hard stance meaning that you point out the weakness of the government’s case and express your confidence you could win, there are times you need to bluff and act like you can win even though you know that is not likely, and there are times to acknowledge to the prosecutor that the defendant is in fact guilty and to appeal to the prosecutor’s sense of mercy, and compassion.

How to negotiate with the prosecutor and when simply depends upon many different variables that are different with every case and with every prosecutor. These variables include the prosecutor’s personality, how long he has been a prosecutor, local custom, the facts of the case, the defendant’s desires, the judge involved in the case, and other factors. It is the weighing, considering, and balancing of these factors and determining the best way to approach plea bargaining that makes plea negotiations an art.

Pretrial Motions

There are various types of pre-trial motions to file in drug cases, a few of the more common motions include:

A) A motion to suppress, which challenges a search or the seizure of evidence because the search or seizure by the Government was illegal.

B) A motion for bill of particulars and other discovery motions keyed specifically towards drug cases seeking that the Government discloses more details about when, where, and how it alleges that the defendant committed the crime, who was involved in the investigation and how was this particular investigation conducted.

C) A motion in limiting seeking to prohibit the Government from placing into evidence certain evidence that is unfair or overly prejudicial (such as the prior criminal conviction of a defendant).

Use of pre-trial motions is one of the best ways for the Defense to find the weak parts of the Governments case and to assess the credibility and vulnerability of Government witnesses.

Finally, if you have a drug problem and need help handling your problem then we can assist you in getting that help with our team of professionals that we have used over the years to help many clients not only beat their case but beat their addiction.  In some cases getting that help can assist you in winning your case.

Conclusion

Defending against criminal allegations of selling or conspiracy to sell, distribute or trafficking in cocaine, marijuana, heroin, oxycontin, or other illegal drugs present unique and special challenges that many other criminal charges do not present. Anyone facing a drug charge should hire an attorney who has extensive experience not only as a criminal defense lawyer but who also has extensive experience with how police handle drug cases.

Attorney Richard Sweeney spent years as a Boston Police Officer and retired as a Sergeant directing one of the Boston Police Drug Units and has testified in state and federal courts in hundreds of criminal cases involving search warrants, investigations, hand to hand sales and conspiracy cases involving every class of drug. Sweeney & Associates is an AV-Rated criminal defense firm and we have successfully represented our clients in every phase of an investigation or a trial involving drugs.

You NEED a law firm with KNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE AND THE ABILITY TO DEFEND YOUR CASE!!  Call Attorney Richard Sweeney at 617-328-6900 and use my experience and knowledge to help you or your loved one.  Call now or visit us at www.Rsweeneylaw.com for more information.

This article used some content ideas from many different online posts.

Mass Motor Vehicle Laws, Ticket Appeals, Driver’s License Suspensions and Fake IDs

June 16, 2010

APPEAL THE TICKET and call Sweeney & Associates at 617-328-6900 for a free consultation. TIME MATTERS!

Massachusetts has enhanced the penalties for speeding and for Junior operators receiving any motor vehicle citation. YOUR CHILD NOW FACES A LICENSE SUSPENSION FOR A SPEEDING TICKET OR FOR HAVING A FAKE ID. (SEE MY BLOG BELOW FOR DETAILED INFO ON FAKE ID’S IN MASSACHUSETTS!

Every parent and junior operator should be aware of the license loss they face under the states drunk driving laws and also for other moving violations including speeding and operating with other passengers in the motor vehicle. EVERY operator has a right to appeal any citation they receive and they should appeal and hire a lawyer familiar with these appeals.

DON’T ARGUE WITH THE POLICE OFFICER. DON’T RELY ON INTERNET QUICK FIXES. IN MASSACHUSETTS CLERK MAGISTRATES OF EACH COURT HEAR TICKET APPEALS AND THE RIGHT ATTORNEY CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!
The tables below should assist you and every teen should be aware of these penalties BEFORE they get pulled over by the police. Knowledge and prevention beats hiring a lawyer every day.

Driving with other passengers in first six months:
• 1st offense: $35 fine; plus 60 day license suspension
• 2nd offense: $35 – $75 fine; plus 180 day suspension; plus completion of registry program that encourages attitudinal changes
• 3rd offense: $75 – $150 fine; plus 1 year suspension; plus completion of registry program that encourages attitudinal changes

Junior Operator Driving between midnight and 5 am:
• 1st offense: $100 – $1,000 fine; plus 60 day license suspension
• 2nd offense: $100 – $1,000 fine; plus 180 day license suspension; plus completion of registry program that encourages attitudinal changes
• 3rd offense: $100 – $1,000 fine; plus 1 year license suspension; plus completion of registry program that encourages attitudinal changes

Permit Holder driving without an adult or between midnight and 5 am:
• 1st offense: $100 – $1,000 fine; plus 60 day learner’s permit suspension
• 2nd offense: $100 – $1,000 fine; plus 180 day learner’s permit suspension; plus completion of registry program that encourages attitudinal changes
• 3rd offense: $100 – $1,000 fine; plus 1 year learner’s permit suspension; plus completion of registry program that encourages attitudinal changes

Junior Operator drag racing:
• 1st offense: $250; plus 1 year license suspension; plus $500 to reinstate license; plus completion of the state courts against road rage program
• 2nd offense: $500; plus 3 years license suspension; plus $1000 to reinstate; plus completion of the state courts against road rage program

Junior Operator speeding (in addition to fines):
• 1st offense: 90 day license suspension; plus $500 to reinstate license; plus completion of registry program that encourages attitudinal changes; plus completion of the state courts against road rage program; plus $50 reinstatement surcharge; plus must retake and successfully complete driving test
• 2nd offense: 1 year suspension; plus $500 to reinstate; plus completion of registry program that encourages attitudinal changes; plus completion of the state courts against road rage program; plus $50 reinstatement surcharge; plus must retake and successfully complete driving test

Permit Holder speeding (in addition to fines):
• 1st offense: 90 day license suspension; plus $500 to reinstate license; plus completion of registry program that encourages attitudinal changes; plus completion of the state courts against road rage program; plus $50 reinstatement surcharge; plus must retake and successfully complete driving test
• 2nd offense: 1 year suspension; plus $500 to reinstate; plus completion of registry program that encourages attitudinal changes; plus completion of the state courts against road rage program; plus $50 reinstatement surcharge; plus must retake and successfully complete driving test

Junior Operator operating recklessly or negligently (in addition to fines):
• 1st offense: 180 day license suspension
• 2nd offense: 1 year license suspension, if it occurs within 3 year period of first offense.

SUSPENSIONS AND REVOCATIONS

When your license has been suspended or revoked by the registry of motor vehicles you must apply for a hearing to have it reinstated. A court order in some instances is NOT binding upon the registry of motor vehicles. For example a Court may treat a drunk driving offense as a first offense and order the standard first offense license suspension whereas the registry may see that, in fact you have more than one drunk driving offense on your record and they WILL treat the suspension as a second or third, etc. despite the court’s finding. That is why you need an experienced attorney to explain the outcome of any case.

The Registry will also suspend your license if you are found with a fake ID or are guilty of most drug offenses, whether a car was involved or not! Once again an experienced attorney can assist you.

Reinstating Your License

To reinstate your license or your right to operate, you may need to appear for a hearing at an RMV Hearing site. To be prepared for your hearing, please choose one of the following to view the registry’s criteria needed when appearing before a hearing’s officer for your particular type of suspension: OUI Hardship Criteria, First Offense (24D) OUI Hardship Criteria, (94C) Drug Offense Hardship Criteria, HTO Hardship Criteria.

If you had a hearing at the Board of Appeals and received a letter of decision rescinding or modifying the Registrar’s actions, you may appear at any Registry branch for reinstatement. Please bring the letter of decision with you.

Fees:

If your license was suspended or revoked, a reinstatement fee will be due when your license is reinstated. This fee ranges from $100 – $1,200, depending on the offense. This reinstatement fee is in addition to any other fee or charge for which you may be responsible.

Junior Operator Reinstatement Fees:

For reinstatement of a learner’s permit or junior operator license, a Driver Attitudinal Retraining Course and/or the State Courts Against Road Rage (SCARR) program may be required.

Payment Defaults

Non-Criminal Citation

If you defaulted on a non-criminal civil citation and have been suspended as a result, you must pay the fine to the court and bring the green court release forms to any Registry branch. There is a $10.00 filing fee to remove each default. In addition, a $100.00 reinstatement fee is required if your license or right to operate was suspended.

Non-Criminal Citation after January 1, 1992:

If you received a non-criminal citation after January 1, 1992, you may pay the citation, late fee and/or reinstatement fee by calling the registry or paying at one of their full service offices, or

Mail your fees to (Do Not Mail Cash):

Attn: Citation Payment
Registry of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 55890
Boston, MA 02205-5890

Criminal Citations

If you defaulted on a criminal civil citation and have been suspended as a result, you must pay the fine to the court and bring the green court release forms to any Full service Registry branch.

Out-of-State Suspensions and Revocations

If your Massachusetts license is revoked due to a suspension or revocation in another state, you must be reinstated in that state before you can resolve any revocation in Massachusetts. Once you have resolved the suspension or revocation in the other state, you may resolve your revocation in Massachusetts by bringing either a reinstatement letter or a current driving record from the state of suspension to any Registry branch

Please note, your reinstatement letter or driving record may not be more than 30 days old.

If you have any questions or need more information about your Massachusetts suspension or revocation, you may call the Suspensions Department at (617) 351-7200.

Call Sweeney & Associates at 617-328-6900 for a free consultation before you go to court or immediately upon receiving any notice from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Attached is a brochure outlining suspensions and revocations.

Elderly Drivers

Speaking with an elderly parent about surrendering a driver’s license is a delicate issue but one which most of us face at some point or another.  Given the importance of keeping everyone safe I have put together some information which is helpful to families that have to face this issue.  Attached is the Reporting requirements and medical report form needed for the RMV to take action.  They can also be found online at this link HERE.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website has excellent links to resources that will be extremely helpful to both you and your family as they outline the best way to deal with elderly and/or medically impaired drivers as family members.  The first link is the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles link and the others can be found on this site.  Please be advised that should your parent or grandparent surrender his or her license then there would be no need for the reporting form and the registry will issue them Mass ID free of charge.  Should the necessity come up to file a report you should be explicit about the limitations and, whenever possible, speak to his/her doctor first.  If the doctor is in agreement with the family then he/she can submit the form and it will be revoked immediately.

The best way to approach this issue is with the family physician’s assistance.  Once the family members express concern to a family physician he/she can then sit down with the parent or grandparent and, as an interested caregiver, intervene on behalf of the family and assist the patient in understanding the necessity of surrendering the license.  Also it is important to remember that once a report is filed by a family member and it is contested a physician needs to sign off that the patient can drive.  Therefore it is always helpful to voice your concerns to her physician IF you need the assistance and definitely if you end up filing the revocation request.

As always if you need any assistance please contact us and we are happy to assist you and your family through the process.  We sincerely wish you and your family the best in dealing with this emotional issue.

Mass Criminal Law – Legal Information for College Students and Parents

June 16, 2010

Greetings and welcome to Massachusetts from the attorneys at  Sweeney & Associates.

As a parent of high school and college students, both in state and out Richard J. Sweeney is acutely aware that you may not know the laws of Massachusetts, and more importantly, what to do if you, or your son or daughter, should find yourself in trouble in Massachusetts. There is nothing more terrifying than being in another state and not knowing who to turn to. We work closely with schools and colleges, as well as local police departments and courts, to ensure that students avail themselves of the many first offender opportunities available to PREVENT YOU OR YOUR CHILD FROM “GETTING A RECORD.”

An experienced attorney can guide you through the court system and assist you in getting a hearing before a clerk magistrate or enrolling you in pre-trial and pre-arraignment programs designed to give young first time offenders the ability to correct their behavior without getting a criminal record.
Each and every college will discuss the local laws with the students at their first opportunity. The colleges located in and around Boston enforce the possession of alcohol laws more than the enclosed suburban campuses due to neighborhood involvement in keeping students from partying in local neighborhoods as opposed to on-campus parties. The Boston Police have a zero tolerance policy and tend to arrest each student for simply possessing alcohol while under the age of 21 or for any possession of illegal drugs. HOWEVER you should be aware that there are MANDATORY JAIL TERMS for certain drug offenses and there are programs for first offenders. IT IS NOT WISE TO PAY THE FINE AND WALK OUT OF COURT!!! This will cause you to have a record that will follow you for the rest of your life, will impact on your status as a resident of a dorm in certain schools, affect your immigration status, your ability to have, receive financial aid or possess certain professional licenses after you graduate. You are entitled to a first offender or diversion program for certain drug and alcohol cases including possession of drugs or alcohol, driving under the influence and other offenses. Also it is important to note that urinating in public by itself does have negative consequences but it is extremely important to have an attorney involved to have the charge amended to one that will not make you a candidate for the SEX OFFENDER LIST.

In short, do not speak to the police if arrested. Ask for an attorney and DO NOT attempt to handle the case yourself in court. We have actually been in court with clients when other students, with the aid of their own attorneys not as familiar with Massachusetts’ Courts and we have watched these students, plead guilty, pay a fine and leave. THEY NOW HAVE CRIMINAL RECORDS AND LOST THEIR CHANCE AT A FIRST OFFENDER PROGRAM, while our clients are paying the same fine but PRIOR TO ARRAIGNMENT!!!!! NO CRIMINAL RECORD!!

This page is not long enough to outline all of the remedies available nor to discuss how each school or university handles these different crimes. As parents and attorneys we know that you need some free initial advice and the time to have someone explain your options. If you, a friend or your student gets stopped by the police please do not give any statements and call the experts at Sweeney & Associates. We know the law and we know the courts. Help us help you.

Richard J. Sweeney is a retired Sergeant from the Boston Police Department who spent many years dealing with students in the Kenmore Square, Allston/Brighton neighborhoods as well as directing a drug unit prior to his retirement. As a former hockey coach of high school and college students he has a tremendous amount of experience dealing with high schools, prep schools and colleges when their students get in trouble.

You are paying a tremendous amount for the best education you can get. Don’t make the mistake of a lifetime and not get the best attorney because you think you know what to do. We have been contacted by CEO’s, politicians, judges, attorneys and corporate counsel from more than half of the United States and Puerto Rico as well as foreign nationals to have us represent their children, or their client’s children for everything from possession of alcohol to sex crimes. We have our own immigration specialist, our own investigator and our own well-chosen associates that allow us to deal with your problem with individual care for you and your family during trying times. Call the experts before you make a decision that will affect the rest of your life. Choose your lawyer as you chose your school.

We welcome calls from new students, or parents of new students, that may have individual questions.

WE KNOW OUR WAY AROUND THE COURTS AND WE CAN HELP!
Contact us at 617-328-6900 or email us at  rsweeney@Rsweeneylaw.com

Please feel free to contact us with any question at 617-328-6900 or email us at Rsweeney@Rsweeneylaw.com.  Don’t let money stop you from calling us to answer your most important questions.  You did a lot of research to choose your school.  Do the same when it comes to a law firm that will help you define your future.  We can help.  Just ask your friends.

See the Massachusetts General Laws at: http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/gl-pt4-toc.htm