In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, according to M.G.L. Chapter 276 Section 58A, under the laws governing the bail hearings and dangerousness hearings for anyone accused of offenses of a felony nature, or that have as an element of the offense, threatened use, attempted use, or actual use of physical force, an person may petition the court as to their eligibility or the necessity of a dangerousness hearing altogether.The former statute made dangerousness hearings mandatory for any offense involving even the possession of a firearm, whether a defendant used it, or had intent to use it or not.
If you are facing a dangerousness hearing in Massachusetts Superior Court for violent crimes or serious felonies involving physical force or the use of a firearm then you need the assistance of a qualified and experienced dangerousness hearing criminal attorney. You will need to successfully and aggressively fight for your rights as bail is not always granted and often must be argued for these types of charges.
The new statute goes on to highlight that anyone involved in any other felony where there is an adequate or substantial risk that physical force may result, will be subject to a hearing to determine the conditions of the individual’s release pending trial, if release will in fact be granted, and to determine the defendant’s dangerousness to the community at large.
The crimes encompassing the requirements for a dangerousness hearing range from armed robbery.
The hearing itself is held immediately upon the first court appearance unless a continuance is asked by the defendant’s attorney or the prosecution. Continuances for dangerousness hearings are limited to a maximum of seven days by an offender’s attorney, and three days if asked for by the state.
Of note is the fact that the rules governing the admissibility of evidence do not apply at a dangerousness hearing. Additionally, the Judge may reopen the hearing procedure at any time prior to trial if new evidence is brought forward that determines the suspect is, in fact, a danger to the community.
Factors that are taken into consideration when deciding through the use of a dangerousness hearing whether to detain a person or not include:
- The nature and seriousness of the danger that would be imposed upon the community if the defendant were released
- The circumstances and nature of the offense charged
- The potential sentence for the crime
- Any family ties the individual might have
- History of mental illness and employment record
- Reputation of the defendant
- Risk that the person will try to interfere with the investigation or threaten witnesses, jurors or victims
- Conviction record
- Controlled substance dependence or distribution
- Prior charges and bail violations
- Violations of Court Order in commission of current act
- Appeals, probation or parole
The decision to hold a defendant will be made only after the hearing determines by clear and convincing evidence that the safety of the community will be at risk regardless of the conditions of release for the accused. The period of time that the court is allowed to detain a person in this situation, cannot exceed 90 days, and in all cases should be remedied as soon as possible.
If you have been charged with a violent crime, any criminal activity involving firearms, or are a suspect in any criminal activity, having the best criminal legal representation by your side could make the difference between remaining in jail and gaining your freedom. Contact the Law Offices of Calcagni at (401) 351-5100 for an immediate consultation regarding your criminal matter in RI, MA or United States cases.
Contact Superior Court Bail Petitions Attorney John L. Calcagni by email or call today at (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation.