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What is Dangerousness in Massachusetts

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In Massachusetts, someone charged with certain crimes can be held without bail for up to 120 days (180 days in superior court) under dangerousness.  This process is detailed in M.G.L. ch. 276 s. 58A.  It’s critical to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney before the dangerousness hearing.

What’s the Process for a Dangerousness Hearing?

Typically, the Commonwealth must move for dangerousness under 58A at the arraignment.  This is your first court hearing.  Sometimes, the dangerousness hearing will be conducted that day, but most times the hearing is reset.  If the judge finds probable cause for the offense, you are held until the hearing is conducted.

At the hearing, the judge determines whether you are dangerous and whether there are conditions of release that could ensure the safety of the community.  The Commonwealth can present witnesses or just rely on police reports and other documents, such as your criminal record.  You also have the right to present evidence, so you should have an attorney experienced in dangerousness hearings by your side.

If the district judge holds you under 58A, you will be held for 120 days in district court, 180 days in superior court.

Can You Appeal a Dangerousness Hearing?

If you are held as dangerous, you have the right to appeal to superior court.  At this hearing, you can present new evidence and make new arguments.

What Kinds of Charges are Subject to Dangerousness?

Typically, you can only be found dangerous if you have very serious charges.  There are some exceptions, though.  Serious drug charges, specifically trafficking, can cause a dangerousness hearing.  Domestic violence offenses are also subject to dangerousness, as well as most gun charges.

How Long Will I Be Held if I’m Found Dangerous?

The time limit is 120 days in district court and 180 days in superior court.  However, this can be extended in many ways.  The COVID-19 pandemic has caused this to be extended.  Additionally, if your attorney does not object to continuances, this time can be found not to count.  The judge can also decide to extend the time if the Commonwealth asks them to.

 

If you are charged with a crime where you could be found dangerous, it’s critical to hire a criminal defense attorney you can trust.  The first dangerousness hearing is a crucial part of your defense, both to secure your freedom and to develop evidence to be used later.  Contact me today at 617-356-8217, and let’s get started on your defense.

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