Massachusetts Criminal procedure

Massachusetts Arrest Records and Warrant Search

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The criminal procedure of Massachusetts is the set of processes prescribed within the legal code of the state that deals with the handling of offenses committed by adults. While most of the steps in the procedure are the same as those followed in other states, there are subtle differences that can change the direction in which a case heads. So, here is a look at how criminals and their indiscretions are dealt with.

The arrest: Custodial detentions can occur on the basis of an MA arrest warrant and even without them. For instance, if the defendant is being charged with a felony, arrests can be made without appealing to the court for the issue of an active warrant. On the other hand, these directives do work in favor of the arresting officers hence seeking them is considered to be the preferred course of action.

Regardless of whether the suspect is being picked up under the provisions of an outstanding warrant or without one, the probable cause requirement will have to be met. For example, when the local tribunal is petitioned for an arrest warrant, the magistrate ensures that there is reasonable cause to hold the person in question culpable for the criminal act before ordering his arrest.

Similarly, when the police give chase to a criminal after he has commissioned a crime, they need to have significant proof which points to his involvement in the illicit act before he can be detained. One taken into custody, the police cannot compel the arrestee to confess to his crimes. Miranda right apply to defendant is Massachusetts just as they would in any other state.

The booking: After being detained, the accused will usually be taken to the nearest police station where his personal belongings will be confiscated and he will be booked. This will include taking fingerprints and mug shots and ascertaining the identity of the accused.

Bail and release: The suspect will be held in custody till a tribunal grants him release under personal recognizance or a bond. The former is only possible when the offense is trivial. In fact, a simple rule is followed when fixing the surety amount for release; the more heinous the crime, the higher will be the bond amount.

Arraignment and Plea: While this is the second appearance of the offender in court after the bail hearing; quite frequently the bail and arraignment are handled in a single court session. During arraignment, the criminal charges being filed against the defendant are explained to him and he is expected to enter a plea which can be one of the following:

  • Guilty
  • Not guilty
  • No contest

Depending on the crime in question, the prosecution and defense may work out a plea bargain which is an agreement of sorts between the two sides under which the suspect will accept his guilt in return for less serious charges.

Grand jury hearing

This is the second time when the highlight is on the probable cause which led the police to demand the arrest of the suspect. However, during this session, it is the grand jury that decides on the merits of the evidence collected by the sheriff’s department. Defense is not allowed to attend these hearings and once an indictment is returned, the case will be bounded over to the appropriate trial court or the accused will be taken into custody through the issue of an arrest warrant if he has not already been detained.

The trial proper and the sentencing

During the trial, both sides are allowed to place their arguments before the jurors. The decision on culpability is left to the jurors who have to unanimously decide whether the defendant can be held responsible for the crime. However, the sentencing is carried out by the judge.