“Throughout the ages, man’s inhumanity to man has been manifested in false charges brought against the innocent.”
Lloyd Paul Striker, The Art of Advocacy
OLOTU LAW focuses on protecting their clients’ rights and fighting hard for their clients who have been accused of criminal activity. If you have been arrested or summoned to court for an arraignment, start preparing to fight back by contact olotu law offices at 781-353-3113. We will make sure that that you receive the full advocacy that you deserve in the court of law.
Arrest is an actual or constructive seizure or detention of a person, usually by police officers, with the intent to effect an arrest. Once arrested, a citizen has a number of rights afforded to him, such as the right to be advised of his rights, the right to make a telephone call, and the right to a lawyer. Determining the actual moment of arrest can, therefore, be critical in defending the accused. A person is not necessarily under arrest because he voluntarily accompanies the police to the police station or submits to police interrogation.
The police officers or detectives interrogating a suspect will often postpone an arrest in an effort to thwart the individual’s exercise of his rights. Arrest is the most common form of bringing persons accused of crimes to court. Under Massachusetts law, the police are empowered to make warrantless arrests for misdemeanors occurring in their presence, certain misdemeanors occurring outside their presence, and felonies.
With few exceptions, arraignments are formal in-court proceedings. At arraignment, the clerk will read the charges pending against the accused. While the practice can vary from court to court, most clerks automatically enter a plea of not guilty to the charges on behalf of the accused. The prosecutor can ask the court to set bail (see below) or to hold the defendant without bail. Additionally, a prosecutor can file a motion asking the court to hold a person as a “dangerous person.”
Bail and Recognizance
“Bail” refers to the means for procuring the release of one formally charged with an offense. More simply put, the court, usually at the prosecutor’s request, sets bail at a certain monetary figure to ensure that the accused returns to court to answer to the criminal charges. The accused, who enjoys the presumption of innocence, cannot be released until he – or someone on his behalf – posts his bail with the clerk. Those incapable of raising their bail can petition the Superior Court for review of the bail. At such a hearing, the Superior Court judge can eliminate the bail, lower the bail, or raise the bail. Those individuals who cannot make bail are confined to the county jail until their case is resolved. Some unfortunates, because of jail overcrowding, will be transferred to the House of Correction.
A court can revoke a person’s bail if he commits another criminal offense while released on bail, violates a provision of his release (such as a stay away order) or fails to appear at court on his next scheduled court date. The bail, if not forfeited, will be returned to the defendant or the person who posted the bail at the conclusion of the case.
Following arraignment, the case is normally scheduled within a month or two for a pre-trial conference. At the pre-trial conference, defense lawyers and prosecutors may enter into discovery agreements, complete a pre-trial conference report, begin and/or finalize plea negotiations, and exchange discovery. The Defense lawyer may file and argue non-evidentiary motions, such as discovery motions. At the conclusion of the pre-trial conference, the defense lawyer and prosecutor may set the case down for a “status” date, set a date for an evidentiary hearing on a motion, or for trial. Normally, neither alleged victims, witnesses nor police officers are usually present at a pre-trial conference.
At an evidentiary hearing, usually on a motion to suppress filed by a defense lawyer, a prosecutor conducts direct examination of witnesses – usually police officers or detectives – whose testimony he anticipates will demonstrate to the court that the motion should be denied. The defense lawyer is given an opportunity to cross-examine the witness. While the goal of the defense lawyer filing such a motion is win the motion, the hearing provides the defense lawyer with, more than likely, the only pre-trial opportunity he will have to cross-examine these witnesses. If the defense lawyer skillfully exploits this potential gold mine of evidence favorable to the defendant, the transcripts of the hearing will prove in invaluable cross-examination tool at trial.
Successfully Defending Juveniles
Being prosecuted in juvenile court is frightening for any juvenile. The formality of the proceedings alone can be incomprehensible to those accused of delinquency. In most cases, juveniles at least grasp that the conduct for which they stand accused was unacceptable, or even illegal – such as possession of alcohol or even assault & battery. But, unfortunately, there is an alarming trend among law enforcement to charge juveniles for conduct that, until recently, was correctly dismissed as the result of simple immaturity, better dealt with by parents than probation officers.
To properly represent a juvenile charged with a crime, a criminal defense lawyer must develop a rapport with not just the client, but his parents. To schedule a meeting with Olotu Law regarding your child, do not hesitate to contact us at 781-353-3113.
The Juvenile Justice System
The criminal justice system has long purported to recognize the difference between the “delinquency” of children and the “criminality” of adult offenders. The United States Supreme Court has chimed in, noting that “the State has a ‘parens patriae interest in preserving and promoting the welfare of the child’ [making] a juvenile proceeding fundamentally different from an adult criminal trial.” Schall vs. Martin, 467 U.S. 253, 263 (1984).
In Massachusetts, G.L. c. 119, §53, states unequivocally that the delinquency code (G.L. c. 119, §52 thru §63) “shall be liberally construed so that the care, custody, and discipline of the children brought before the court shall be approximate as nearly as possible that which they should receive from their parents, and that, as far as practicable, they shall be treated, not as criminals, but as children in need of aid, encouragement and guidance.”
Reality: A Criminal Proceeding
Although the juvenile court may have been created to foster the positive development of wayward youths in need of care, reassurance and guidance, in every important aspect, the juvenile court is, today, a criminal, rather than a rehabilitative, court. The benevolent intentions, if any, of those who created the court have been supplanted by institutional underpinnings and goals of the adult criminal court; that is, to hold accountable and to punish. Andrew Walkover, The Infancy Defense in the New Juvenile Court, 31U.C.L.A. LAW REVIEW 502 (1984). Even the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court admitted as much in Commonwealth vs. Rodriquez, 376 Mass. 632 (1978), noting that despite legislation declaring juvenile delinquency proceedings non-criminal, “the delinquency process has assumed a kind of criminal character. . . .” A juvenile accused of a crime, therefore, needs a criminal defense attorney to safeguard his rights, especially if his liberty is in jeopardy.
As in adult criminal court, the accused in juvenile court is:
- prosecuted by the county’s District Attorney’s Office;
- arraigned before a judge;
- subject to pre-trial detention;
- subject to being detained on bail;
- subject to pre-trial release conditions;
- subject to pre-trial detention for violation of release conditions;
- tried before a judge or a jury;
- subject, if found guilty/delinquent, to a lengthy term of incarceration