The Massachusetts SJC decided an important case for Massachusetts OUI Lawyers today. The SJC held in Commonwealth v. Morgan that the Valor Act permits a judge to dismiss a first or second offense OUI over the Commonwealth’s objection. The SJC held that the wording of the statute did not exclude dismissal as a remedy and that the legislature is presumed to know how a statute will impact existing laws.
The Valor Act was passed in 2012 in recognition of the service of military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Act permits someone who has been honorable discharged and has been in active duty to have a criminal charge of a misdemeanor, if the individual has no other record, dismissed under a diversionary program.
Once probation determines that an individual qualifies, the Court continues the arraignment for 14 days to allow the individual to receive a recommendation from the Veteran’s Administration that they meet the eligibility requirements for the pretrial diversion program. The case is then stayed for 90 days until the program is completed; after the completion of the program, the judge is authorized to dismiss the charge under the recent decision of the SJC today in Commonwealth v. Morgan.
In Morgan, the Commonwealth argued that it has the right to object to a dismissal of the charge. Our office had a case pending waiting the resolution of this issue by the SJC. The SJC did caution that the statute does not require a judge to dismiss the case and makes no assurances of dismissal as the remedy. The SJC held that based on its reading of the statute, the legislature intended to give district court judges discretion in dealing with Veterans. The SJC noted that the legislature is free to amend the statute if it did not intend the remedy articulated in the Court’s decision.
To learn more about OUI laws in Massachusetts, visit Attorney DelSignore’s website.