Worcester Criminal Lawyer
Being charged with a crime can be a traumatic experience and can often lead to decisions that may make the situation worse or hamper your eventual defense. For this reason, it is important to understand the basics of criminal law in Worcester and your basic legal rights in this type of situation—as well as the potential importance of retaining qualified legal assistance.
Having a Worcester criminal lawyer by your side could help ensure that all your rights are protected and avoid inadvertently jeopardizing your reputation and your freedom. An accomplished criminal defense attorney could also help guarantee that you have an opportunity to provide potentially exonerating information and defend yourself in court.Types of Criminal Charges
At all levels of law enforcement—federal, state, or local—crimes are categorized as either misdemeanors or felonies. Relatively minor incidents such as speeding tickets can be charged as infractions or violations, but those are generally not classified as criminal acts unless there is some additional factor involved. For example, driving through a red light would usually be charged as a simple violation of traffic law, but may be considered a crime if the driver was impaired or drunk at the time.Misdemeanors
The law in Worcester defines misdemeanors as relatively minor criminal offenses that are not punishable by incarceration in federal or state prison. They can, however, carry a sentence in a county or local jail for up to a maximum of one year, as well as monetary fines and probationary sentences. Some examples of crimes often charged as misdemeanors include simple assault, disorderly conduct, larceny/shoplifting, operating under the influence, resisting arrest, and trespassing.Felonies
Felonies are serious criminal offenses that are punishable by incarceration in federal or state prison and steep fines. Although Massachusetts eliminated the death penalty in 1984, it may still be invoked in federal cases that are prosecuted there.
Some examples of felonies include assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, child endangerment, possession of child pornography, kidnapping, sexual assault, and vehicular homicide. In some cases, repeated misdemeanor offenses may be charged as felonies as well.Potential Outcomes
Once a Worcester resident is charged with a crime, there are a limited number of ways in which the matter can be resolved. For misdemeanor cases, it is sometimes possible to get the charges dismissed at a hearing with the clerk magistrate. These hearings only happen when alleged criminal behavior was not witnessed by a police officer.
Other cases may end with a judgement of Continuance Without A Finding (CWOF). In this type of outcome, the defendant does not enter a plea but agrees to be on probation for a specified period, usually one year. If the defendant completes the probationary period without any violations or further incidents, the original charge is dismissed. If, however, the defendant does not adhere to the probationary conditions or is charged with new crimes during the probationary period, the original charge will be reinstated.Defendant’s Rights
Defendants sometimes agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge and forego a trial in return for a reduction in punishment. The reduction may be from felony charges to misdemeanor charges, from multiple charges to one charge, or from a more severe charge to a less severe charge.
Finally, defendants in Worcester always have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. Such trials, however, can be expensive and time-consuming, and typically involve a high level of uncertainty. A qualified Worcester criminal lawyer could work to streamline and simplify the court process in pursuit of a positive outcome.Value of a Worcester Criminal Attorney
If you face charges for any type of crime, time is often of the essence. Waiting to see what happens next—or to see if the prosecutor will offer you a deal—is rarely a wise choice.
You may need advice and guidance every step of the way when you are facing criminal charges, a Worcester criminal lawyer with experience and expertise could provide all of that and more. Call our office today to speak with a seasoned attorney and get qualified legal representation in your case.