Articles Posted in Misdemeanors

Published on:

cyan-1527042In Commonwealth v. Tremblay, the defendant was accused and convicted of breaking and entering while intending to commit misdemeanor larceny and a fifth offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. He appealed on the basis that the trial judge made a mistake in limiting his cross-examination of a witness about an issue that was key to his defense.

At trial, the defendant argued he’d made a factual mistake about whether he was permitted to go onto the property of his dead uncle’s neighbor, break a lock, and take a model airplane. He tried to present evidence to this effect. However, the trial judge wouldn’t allow the defendant to question the neighbor about the defendant’s father’s challenge to the uncle’s will, which gave the neighbor the contents of the shed, including the model airplane. The defense attorney claimed that if the neighbor admitted that the ownership of the model airplane was disputed by the defendant’s family, it would have given the defendant more credibility on the question of whether he’d made an honest mistake of fact about his right to go onto the property and take the airplane model.

The appellate court explained that the element of intent to steal, which is required to convict someone of larceny, is negated if the defendant can show he had an honest, even if mistaken, belief he was allowed to take the property at issue. The court explained that testimony about the will dispute was relevant, and the judge should have allowed some cross-examination of the neighbor on whether there was a will dispute.

Continue reading

Published on:

alcatraz-1219539When someone is charged with a crime in Massachusetts, they face the possibility of imprisonment, probation, or fines, and sometimes all three. However, individuals who don’t have significant criminal records or who are veterans may be eligible for a pre-trial diversion program. The District Attorney’s Office runs the program.

If a case goes through the pre-trial diversion program, the client doesn’t go before a judge. The purpose of pre-trial diversion is to give a defendant the possibility of avoiding the criminal justice system by meeting certain requirements.  Massachusetts General Law chapter 276A section 1-11 includes the requirements that allow courts to divert defendants charged with certain misdemeanors.

Under MGL chapter 276A section 2, district courts and the municipal court of Boston have jurisdiction to divert someone charged with an offense for which imprisonment can be imposed and over which district courts can exercise final jurisdiction. However, the defendant must be between 18 and 22, never have been convicted in a criminal court after reaching 18 (except for traffic violations that were not punished with imprisonment), not have outstanding warrants or appeals or cases pending anywhere in the country, and have received a program recommendation that he or she would benefit from the program. A separate code section (section 10) covers pre-trial diversion for adult veterans. Adult veterans must meet other requirements and need not be between ages 18 and 22.

Continue reading