Disorderly Houses in Massachusetts

Boston police officers and those from neighboring suburbs are cracking down on local parties and particularly tracking houses that have a lot of noise and other complaints. Recently four Boston University Students were charged for repeatedly throwing wild parties at a house in Allston and held for three nights in jail. The most recent party in January violated their pretrial probation terms. In September 2013, they were arrested and charged with one count apiece of keeping a disorderly house at an earlier party involving over 200 people. The house was used by the BU fraternity Zeta Beta Tau and the fraternity was suspended because BU believes the house was being used for underage drinking.

At the second, party, the police arrived at 1:00 a.m. People at the party slammed the door in their faces and locked them. People began exiting in droves through doors and windows. When they got inside, the police officers found furniture rearranged, the smell of marijuana and more than 1000 beer cans in their house. As a result of the second arrests and probation violation, the students’ bail was revoked.

The two parties were considered to be in the top 10% of disorderly parties. However, the second arrest and jail stay had to do with violating probation, not with the disorderly house. At the arraignment, all four young men hid their faces with their hands. They were released from jail on their personal recognizance, but criticized strongly by the judge who noted the sacrifices their parents had made for them to attend a world-class university (that costs about $58,530 per year for an undergraduate degree. All four decided to move out of the house.

Many BU students were upset about the charges. If you are a student, particularly if you are from out of state, you should be aware that Massachusetts criminalizes being a “disorderly person.” The type of conduct that is prohibited under this law is fighting, excessively noisy behavior, dangerous conditions, and alarming or annoying behavior. Most often this involves such situations as bar fights or drinking alcohol in the park and throwing bottles around or creating other public disturbances.

Massachusetts also criminalizes keeping “noisy and disorderly houses” under M.G.L. c. 272 s. 53(a). This was originally intended to punish houses of prostitution or houses where illegal gambling takes place, but nowadays it is used to bring a charge against someone who has a very loud and disruptive party. If convicted of this charge, you can be sentenced to time in a house of correction for six months or less or with a fine of no more than $200 or both.

If you are charged with disorderly conduct, the prosecutor must show that you knew or had reason to know of unruly activities that was happening at a residence and you didn’t try to prevent that activity. For example, if you were away at your girlfriend’s house and didn’t know your roommates were having a party, you could defend on the grounds that you lacked knowledge.

A Boston criminal defense attorney with experience in these types of cases can mount a strong defense on your behalf and also advocate on your behalf at a Clerk Magistrate hearing so as to avoid the issuance of a criminal complaint. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy today to discuss your Massachusetts student crime charges. Call us at 617-367-0450 or through this website.

More Blog Posts:

U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Defendant in Mandatory Minimum Case Alleyne v. U.S., Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published December 19, 2013
Court of Appeals Ruling Affirms Prior Conviction Record Insufficient to Establish Identity, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published December 11, 2013

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