Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney Frequently Asked Questions

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in Massachusetts it is important to contact an attorney for legal advice and guidance. Boston criminal defense attorney Kathleen McCarthy has over twenty-five years of experience in criminal law. Kathleen McCarthy has represented clients charged with a variety of crimes ranging from disorderly person [M.G.L ch. 272, § 53, being a minor in possession of alcohol [M.G.L. ch. §138], assault and battery [M.G.L. ch. 265 § 13A] to firearm and drug offenses. Her knowledge, experience, and litigation skills have helped her clients achieve favorable results. Call 978-975-8060 to speak with her directly about your case.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions the Law Office of Kathleen McCarthy commonly receives.

1. Was the arresting police officer required to read my Miranda Rights?

Most people assume that an arresting officer is required to recite the Miranda warning upon arresting a person. For example, in television shows and Hollywood blockbusters viewers see police officers reciting the Miranda warning as follows when arresting a person:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. If you do say anything, it can be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to have a lawyer present during any questioning.
  4. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire.

Pursuant to U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Miranda v. Arizona, a law enforcement officer is required to recite the Miranda warning prior to interrogating a person in police custody. The interrogation can occur in jail, at the scene of the crime, or while detained in the officer’s vehicle. Once a person is in custody - deprived of his/her freedom of action in any significant way - the police must recite the Miranda warning if they seek to ask questions and use the answers as evidence at the trial.

In most circumstances, it is best to remain silent. Having a strong advocate by your side during questioning and the initial arrest can ensure that your rights are protected. Contact attorney Kathleen McCarthy if you were recently charged with a crime in the Boston area.

2. What is the difference between pretrial diversion and pretrial probation?

Pretrial diversion programs are aimed to provide criminal defendants with a second chance of avoiding the traditional criminal justice system. Instead of being prosecuted through the court, pretrial diversion provides defendants the opportunity to enter a program in which he/she must meet specific requirements. For example, if the defendant was charged with the possession of a controlled substance, being a minor in possession of alcohol or being in possession of a fake identification card, he/she may be eligible to enter into a pretrial diversion program for the treatment of drug addiction or abuse. Upon the completion of the program, the charge(s) asserted against the defendant would be dismissed.

By definition, pre-trial probation is a court-approved agreement between a defendant and the prosecutor to set probationary terms for the defendant. This disposition does NOT require any type of admission on the part of the defendant and is reflected as a dismissal in a CARI/CORI search.

3. Should I take a plea deal?

A plea deal occurs when a favorable disposition is negotiated between the parties. The advantage of a “plea bargain” is that the defendant knows what the disposition will likely be. Although a judge is not necessarily bound by the agreement, more often than not a judge will ordinarily adopt an agreed upon disposition Also, even if the defense and the prosecution do not agree on a potential disposition, the case may still be disposed of by plea as the judge imposes the sentence NOT the District Attorney’s Office.

You should consult with your attorney before you decide whether or not to take a plea deal. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Depending on the nature of the evidence asserted against you, it might be in your best interest to go to trial in lieu of accepting a deal. Contact attorney Kathleen McCarthy for legal advice and counseling on whether you should accept a plea deal.

4. What is the difference between a felony and misdemeanor charge?

A misdemeanor is a crime in which the maximum penalty does NOT involve a state prison sentence. In other words, if the maximum potential penalty is a jail/house of correction sentence then the charge is a misdemeanor. Common crimes charged as a misdemeanor in Massachusetts are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, disorderly conduct and most criminal motor vehicle offenses.

Common crimes charged as felonies in Massachusetts consists of murder, arson, rape, kidnapping, white collar crimes, fraud schemes, burglary, armed robbery, larceny over $250.00, embezzlement, drug trafficking, 3rd offense drunk driving charge, and manslaughter.

5. If the defendant is not a U.S. citizen, will their immigration status be affected by an arrest?

Defendants who are non-U.S. citizens may be deported from Massachusetts if they are convicted or receive a continuance without a finding for a certain type of criminal offenses. The legal action that will be taken against the defendant will depend on the nature of the crime committed and the sentenced ordered. If an immigrant defendant is convicted of any of the following crimes, he/she may be deported:

  1. Aggravated Felony Conviction
  2. Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
  3. Controlled Substance Offense
  4. Firearm Violation
  5. Domestic Violence

It is important to remember that a continuance without a finding is considered a conviction for Immigration purposes however; it is not considered a conviction for criminal CORI/CARI background checks in Massachusetts. Hire an experienced attorney to stand by your side and protect your rights. Attorney Kathleen McCarthy provides legal defense representation to foreign nationals currently residing in the U.S.

6. The police want to question me regarding the criminal charges. Should I take my attorney?

Yes! Having your attorney present during any type of police interrogation will help to ensure that all of your state and federal constitutional rights are protected.

7. Do I need to hire a criminal defense attorney if I am charged with a crime?

Yes. Hiring an experienced Boston criminal defense attorney will provide you with peace of mind throughout your case. Even if you have been charged with a minor offense, you should hire an attorney to defend your constitutional rights and ensure that the you receive the best possible result for your personal and professional life.

Attorney Kathleen McCarthy is a skilled litigator and has successfully defended several Boston residents. She provides criminal defense legal representation to residents of Massachusetts including the cities of towns of Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill, Concord, Ayer and Newburyport. Call 978-975-8060 to speak with her directly.