Criminal Defense

What Kinds of Cases Have We Handled?



If You Have Been ARRESTED, CHARGED OR DETAINED for Violating A Criminal Law:

  • What Should YOU Do?
  • What Are YOUR Rights?

In the United States, criminal cases are handled very differently than civil litigation matters. Some of the differences are:

  • If you were arrested, the police must read your constitutional rights to you and you must be made aware of them in your native language.
  • You have the right to be represented by an attorney paid for by the government if you qualify.
  • The government has lawyers who represent the state.
  • You can be sent to prison if found guilty of committing certain crimes. Punishment by jail sentence is much less usual in civil cases.
  • You have the right to a Court-appointed interpreter at all of your court hearings.
  • The standard that the government must meet to convict you requires that either a judge or all of the members of a jury must find that you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” after a trial.
  • The burden of proof is on the government.
  • For many crimes, criminal intent is required. That is, the person charged must have intentionally committed the criminal act.
  • Approximately 90% of all criminal cases are settled before trial.
  • If you are not a United States citizen, you may be subject to deportation even if you reach an agreement with the government. It is very important for your defense attorney to be aware of your immigration status and the impact that a settlement may have on it.

How Many Times Do I Have To Go To Court?

Criminal cases in Massachusetts go through several procedural stages. During the course of your case you will hear the lawyers and judge refer to these terms.

Indictment — If the charge is a felony, and if the government wishes to pursue the case in the Superior Court, the prosecutor must go before a grand jury and prove “probable cause” that a crime was committed and that you are the person who committed it. This will almost always happen without your knowing about it.

Show-Cause Hearing — If the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony that can stay in District Court, and if no police officer witnessed the offense, then the probable cause determination will be made before a Clerk-Magistrate in an informal hearing. Usually, these take place in a conference room at the District Court, and the only people in the room are the magistrate, a police officer, you and your lawyer.

Arraignment — This is your first appearance before a judge, when you are officially notified of the charges against you.

Bail Hearing — At a bail hearing, it will be decided whether you will be released on your own recognizance, or held on bail. If you are held on bail, you will not be released from custody until someone posts with the court the amount of money set by the judge at the bail hearing.

Dangerousness Hearing — Also known as a “58A” hearing, this is when the prosecutor asks the judge to have you held in custody without any bail, so that, as a practical matter, you cannot get out until the case is resolved. A request for a dangerousness hearing is usually made at arraignment.

Pretrial Hearing — This is the first court date after the arraignment. Lots of things can happen at this hearing, depending upon your case and your lawyer’s strategy. Depending upon the particular court, there could well be more than one pretrial hearing date.

Pretrial Conference — This is a meeting between the prosecutor and your lawyer at which they agree, as far as they can, upon the details of the trial, should there be one. They discuss things like the number and identity of witnesses for each side, any special legal issues that have to be decided by the judge, and whether any substantive motions are going to be filed, such as motions to dismiss or suppress. In Superior Court, the pretrial conference is often scheduled by the court. In District Court, the pretrial conference happens during another scheduled court date, often a pretrial hearing.

Compliance Date — If the judge orders the prosecutor to turn information over to the defense, he will establish a compliance date by which the information must be supplied. Often the “discovery” is supplied on the compliance date itself. The compliance date can be an in-court date, when the parties have to appear before the judge and confirm that the information was turned over, or out-of-court, where the defense has the burden of bringing the case back in front of the judge if the information is not received.

Election Date — The court date scheduled for the election of a trial date. Even if you have no intention of going to trial, you may have an election date scheduled. In the District Court, the Compliance and Elections Dates are often combined, and the case is scheduled for “C & E” on a particular day.

Motion Date — The date on which the court has scheduled the hearing of a motion in your case.

Status Date — At any point in the case after arraignment, your case could be scheduled for a status date. Status dates are scheduled when the parties are awaiting receipt of medical records, the outcome of some hearing or trial, a psychiatric evaluation, or one of many other events.

Trial Date — The date upon which you are scheduled to go to trial. Most district courts will have several, if not many cases scheduled for trial on the same day. Most of those cases will be resolved on that day without trial, some may be continued (rescheduled) for various reasons, and usually at least one will go to trial before a jury.

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Chin Law Firm
400 Hancock Street
Quincy, MA 02171

Phone: (617) 471-3460
Fax: (617) 249-2097