How Does a Criminal Conviction Impact Your Job in Massachusetts?

A criminal conviction can have repercussions long after paying fines, serving required prison time, and probationary sentences. Potential employers, school boards, and even rental companies and banks are just a few examples of the different sectors that may consider a criminal history when deciding whether to hire, provide housing, or approve an educational application. All of these instances make it difficult for those with a criminal record to make the necessary changes in their lives to move forward. 

To help ensure these individuals have a better chance at a positive future, many lawmakers are taking steps to fight for these individuals.

How Massachusetts is Helping Individuals with a Criminal Record

In 2018, Governor Charlie Baker signed Senate Bill No. 2371, also known as “Ban the Box, which bans employers from discriminating an applicant’s criminal records on an initial job application. The law also restricts how far back an employer can look into an applicant’s past, but there are exemptions to this, as well as exemptions that disqualify an applicant with a criminal record. Some of these exemptions include crimes against a child, convictions for murder, manslaughter, and certain sex offenses. 

The “Ban the Box” Act also lists certain guidelines that licensing agencies, such as those in real estate, dentistry, and other medical professions, must follow.

Individuals Facing a Criminal Conviction or Have a Criminal Record

If an individual is facing a criminal conviction or has a criminal record, there are two approaches they can take to help reduce the risk of the consequences of Bill No. 2371, as outlined above. 

  1. If an individual is facing a criminal conviction, it’s crucial to build a strong defense to the charges. By working with an experienced criminal attorney, a solid defense strategy for your situation will be created to better ensure your legal rights are protected. 
  2. Take proactive steps to clear your criminal records. Depending on the details of the individual’s criminal history, the individual may be able to seal their records or in exceedingly rare cases, have their records expunged.

Your Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer

At Urbelis Law, LLC, our team of criminal defense lawyers will work closely with you to build a credible defense strategy to ensure your legal rights are protected while facing a criminal conviction. For those that have a criminal record and are in the process of looking for a job, a new home,  or are in the process of going back to school, our team will ensure you are supported and not discriminated upon during the review process. 

To learn more about how our team can help you move on from your criminal conviction, contact us today at (617) 830-2188. 

What is Criminal Charge Stacking?

When law enforcement officers make an arrest, they often charge the individual with as many crimes as they can at once. Since they are using their discretion when asserting criminal charges, law officers tend to err on the side of caution and make several charges in an attempt to see what charges stick. Known as criminal charge stacking, this process affects many individuals facing criminal convictions. 

Why is Criminal Charge Stacking Bad for Defendants?

Criminal charge stacking means that criminal defendants have to fight more charges that don’t necessarily fit their alleged crime. When a defendant has to fight more charges, the harder it will be for them to walk away without a conviction. If multiple convictions are obtained from criminal charge stacking, the charges can be stacked on one another, leading to a lengthy sentence. Criminal charge stacking can also make a first-time offender a multiple offender if they are convicted of more than one crime pending against them.

Fighting stacked charges can also be very expensive, which can make defendants feel pressured to take plea bargains to offset the cost of hiring a lawyer and fighting all of the charges. By working with a skilled criminal defense lawyer, the charges that need to be dropped immediately will be determined and the steps to get them dropped will be taken immediately, allowing defendants and their lawyers more time to focus on the charges that need to be faced. 

Examples of Common Criminal Charges that are Often Stacked Together:

  • Basic drug chares in conjunction with conspiracy and/or possession of drug paraphernalia charges
  • Weapons possession charges in conjunction with money laundering and/or drug charges
  • Robbery charges in conjunction with a convicted felon gun possession charge

Working with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Are you facing stacked charges for multiple crimes? By working our experienced team of criminal defense lawyers at Urbelis Law, we will ensure that any charges that do no necessarily fit the facts surrounding the alleged crime are dropped immediately, saving you time and money. Contact us today at (617) 830-2188 to get started.

What To Do if You’re Arrested

Our team of criminal defense lawyers have seen it all and one of the best things you can do after being arrested is to keep quiet until you are represented by a lawyer. This is especially important when it comes to stacked criminal charges on relatively minor encounters. By doing all of the right things, you’re able to drastically improve the odds of winning your criminal case. 

If you find yourself being arrested, keep the following tips in mind.

Don’t Speak About the Case on the Phone

After being arrested, you’re allowed one phone call from the police station and these calls are typically recorded. When making your one phone call, keep them brie and utilize them to request bail or arrange for a lawyer. Avoid speaking about any allegations and the case on the phone.

If you speak about the case, make any admissions, or any other statements on these calls and they are recorded, copies of these calls can be ordered, and this can add additional charges to your conviction.

Don’t Make Small Talk with the Police

When going through the arrest and booking process, avoid making small talk with law enforcement, even if they’re nice. This can lull you into a false sense of security and anything you say can be turned over to the prosecutor. This can twist any innocent comments into admissions or provide additional information to piece together your charges.

Don’t Speak with Your Cellmates About Your Case

Conversations can be overheard, and cellmates can try to use anything you say about your case as a tool to help them with their cases. 

Don’t Give Law Enforcement Permission to Search

Whether it’s your car, home, or yourself, never give law enforcement permission to search any of your belongings. Always request a court order before they search.

Ask for a Lawyer Immediately

If you’re asked any questions by law enforcement, simply say “I’m not answering any questions without an attorney present.” Law enforcement is legally required to stop questioning you once you’ve asked for an attorney to be present. 

By doing this, you’re able to protect yourself from being coerced into an admission.

Be Polite

This should go without saying, but if you’re polite and cooperative while being arrested and going through the booking process, it’s more likely the police will reciprocate your respect. Getting into an argument or fighting the police can make a bad situation worse and can lead to additional criminal charges.

Does Law Enforcement Have to Read You Your Miranda Rights?

 

Law enforcement only has to read you your Miranda Rights if you are both in custody and they are going to question you. If you are arrested and law enforcement does not read you your Miranda Rights, your arrest won’t be thrown out. Instead, your criminal defense lawyer can file a motion to suppress any statements you made, keeping them out of court and not used at trsial.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

After being arrested, the best thing you can do to make sure you are best legal interests are in mind, is to hire a criminal defense lawyer. At Urbelis Law, our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers have been helping individuals reduce and eliminate their criminal charges and convictions for over 10 years. If you are facing charges, call us today at (617) 830-2188 for your free consultation.

Why You Need an Attorney for a Clerk Magistrate Hearing

Being accused of criminal charges does not warrant one’s arrest. While most people have this misconception, the court calls the accused to a hearing, better known as Clerk Magistrate Hearing. Accused individuals will go to these hearings as a responder, and the magistrate will have to determine whether the accused will face any criminal charges.

Although most accused do not go through the effort of hiring a professional attorney for a Clerk Magistrate Hearing, you should not make the same mistake. Here are a few reasons why you should hire a professional lawyer to represent you in the probable cause hearing.

Reasons to Hire an Attorney

Professional Attorneys Have a Lot of Experience

It goes without saying that professional attorneys have a lot of experience in their particular field. You can use this to your advantage, as they can build a defense using their years of experience. Moreover, although every case is different, most cases can share similarities that an attorney can use to build a better defense for you.

Having a professional attorney by your side can also help you better testify in a hearing, as they can use their experience to inform you of mistakes that previous clients made.

Can Save You a Significant Amount of Money

While it may be odd to think that an expensive lawyer representing you in a court can save you money, it simply can. Being found guilty of criminal charges in a clerk magistrate hearing can lead to you spending thousands of dollars in court hearings to prove your innocence. Of course, a professional attorney can save you from seeing another day in court or having to pay another dollar by proving your innocence from the start.

The Stakes Are Too High

The stakes in a clerk magistrate hearing are too high for you not to hire a professional lawyer to represent you. With good representation, it is possible for you to walk away from these hearings without criminal charges on your record. Attorneys use their years of experience to identify any weaknesses in the complaint and build a solid defense.

Attorney Benjamin UrbelisReceiving a letter calling you to a clerk magistrate hearing can be a serious shock. However, with a professional attorney on your side, you can walk away from this hearing without having to pay more or having to appear in court again. Contact Urbelis Law at (617) 830-2188 to learn more.

 

Why Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Individuals facing criminal charges have to consider various things; whether or not they should hire a defense attorney is certainly one of them. Many overlook the prospect of hiring a lawyer due to their cost, the service they provide offers incredible benefits to the individual. Moreover, since the cost of a criminal defense attorney is minimal, considering the life-altering psychological and financial cost that individuals will pay for not having a strong defense. Here are a few benefits that come with hiring a dedicated and experienced attorney.

Benefits of Hiring an Attorney

They Have Experience with Your Case

One of the major benefits that come with hiring a professional attorney is that they have a lot of experience in the field of criminal defense. Different lawyers deal with specific issues and judicial problems, and criminal defense attorneys specialize in criminal cases. While no case is the same, there are similarities between various cases that could make it easier for the attorney to build a strong defense.

Better Relationships with Prosecutors

Though it may seem odd that prosecutors and defense attorneys (two adversaries) would build a positive relationship, it is very common. Both parties understand the inherent benefits that come with understanding each other, so they build good professional relationships. These relationships can prove to be beneficial for a defense attorney’s client, as their lawyer can strike a better plea deal on their behalf.

They Help Save Money

While many may think it is counterintuitive, expensive lawyers will help save them money; lawyers help soften the blow for the impending judgment an individual will receive. They can get a significantly better deal where the client may be able to keep their job and/or professional license. By keeping their job or license intact, individuals can serve their sentence without losing their means of income.

They Understand the Judicial System

Finally, criminal defense lawyers understand the inherent judicial system, which is complex and difficult to understand for a layman. After close to a decade of schooling and learning, defense attorneys understand the nuances of the judicial system and the authority of law enforcement, which makes them significantly more capable of handling a criminal case.

Call on a Professional Attorney Today

Attorney Benjamin UrbelisDo not risk imprisonment or serious financial and psychological damage by choosing an inexperienced lawyer to act on your defense. Instead, hire a professional attorney so that they may help get you the best plea bargain you can find. Contact Urbelis Law at (617) 830-2188 to learn more.

The Penalties of Providing Alcohol to a Minor

In Massachusetts, selling alcohol to a minor is a criminal offense, similar to other states in the US. A minor, below the age of 21, cannot consume alcohol with a few exceptions. According to Ma. Gen. Laws Ann. 138 Section 34A, minors cannot purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol of any kind. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule, as minors can possess alcohol with a spouse or member of their immediate family. However, the penalties of providing alcohol to minors can be very severe, even for adults above the age of 21.

Penalties for Providing Alcohol to Minors

There are serious issues for providing alcohol to minors throughout the state of Massachusetts. Being convicted for providing alcohol to minors is a misdemeanor, and the penalty can vary depending on the conviction you have.

Carrying, Transportation, or Possession of alcohol

Upon the first conviction, the individual will have to pay a fine of $50 if it is their first offense. However, in the event of two or more arrests, they will have to pay a fine of $150. Other than the fines, the individual will also lose their license for 90 days, or the right to operate a vehicle. This means they will not be able to drive their car or any other vehicle, even if they have a job.

Purchasing, Arranging or Attempting to Purchase Alcohol

While still a misdemeanor, the penalties for purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol is significantly greater than other smaller felonies. The accused will face a fine of $300, along with a report of the conviction that the sentencing court sends to the registrar of motor vehicles. The registrar will suspend the defendant’s license for a period of 180 days.

Fake or Fraudulent Identification

Minors may also try to purchase or acquire alcohol by providing a fake ID to the establishment. This offense is also a misdemeanor but is separate from the aforementioned offense. This particular offense carries more penalties, like a fine of up to $200, and a maximum of three months in jail. The sentence, of course, depends on the judge that passes it.

Attorney Benjamin UrbelisUnderage drinking laws can be a little difficult to traverse, especially with the many legal bindings. Therefore, if you want to learn more about penalties of alcohol among minors, contact Urbelis Law at (617) 830-2188 to better understand these legal bindings.

Have You Violated Your Probation?

Probation is oftentimes one of the best bargains that a defendant can receive in court. While certainly better than imprisonment, probation does not mean that individuals are free. In fact, individuals will have to follow very strict guidelines during their probation, as the penalties of failing to meet these demands can be very severe.

The conditions within the agreement call on individuals to follow and obey all local, federal, and state laws along with reporting to their probation officer. Defendants will have to meet these conditions throughout their probation, along with other common-sense measures, as well as community service (conditional).

The penalties for failing to meet these probation conditions will lead to a violation. A violation entails serious consequences that depend on your criminal record, initial charges, and the charges that you violated. The largest penalty that you will face for violating your probation is jail time, and at the least, you may receive more time under probation.

After Violating Your Terms

Violating the terms of your probation can lead to a warrant for your immediate arrest. The probation officer will issue a surrender notice, which means that the defendant will have to appear in front of the judge. This judge may send out a warrant for a defendant’s immediate arrest.

The Initial Surrender Hearing

The first surrender hearing occurs when an individual is formally notified of their probation violation in court. Of course, these violations are only allegations, and the judge will decide if there is probable cause to these claims and if you will go to jail without bail until the day of the final surrender hearing. There can be no need for a final surrender hearing if the defendant has the support of a professional attorney.

Final Surrender Hearing

In the final surrender hearing, the judge will call on witnesses to testify either in favor or against the allegations of violations. Of course, calling on a professional attorney will allow them to cross-examine any witnesses as well as call other witnesses on their behalf. However, if there is sufficient evidence that the defendant is responsible for violating their terms, their attorney will have to negotiate the sentence that the judge will enact.

Attorney Benjamin UrbelisViolating your terms of probation can be a serious offense and can even lead to jail time. If you are looking to learn more about your probation and how to uphold the terms, contact Urbelis Law at (617) 830-2188.

Everything You Need to Know About Massachusetts’ Firearms Law

While the controversy around firearms begins to swell near the 2020 elections, your right to bear arms will be protected by the second amendment. Here is everything you should know regarding gun laws in Massachusetts.

Owning guns in Massachusetts

Owning a gun in Massachusetts is very simple and is possible even if you are not a resident of the state. Of course, before you can purchase a licensed firearm, you will need a License to Carry (LTC) or a Firearm Identification (FID) Card. Sellers will have to conduct a background check on a buyer, and for that, they will need the aforementioned identification cards.

Carrying Guns in Massachusetts

Other than owning a gun in Massachusetts, licensed gun owners can also carry their firearms outside of their homes. To freely carry a gun, individuals will have to first apply for a Class A Unrestricted License to Carry (LTC-A). Individuals can only apply for an LTC-A license after first receiving an LTC.

Areas Where Carrying Firearms Is Illegal

Although Massachusetts allows for open and concealed carry of your firearm throughout the state, there are places where individuals cannot carry firearms. Even if they have a dedicated LTC-A license, the state prohibits gun owners from carrying firearms in designated places. Here are the following places:

  • Schools or other educational institutes
  • Airports
  • Courthouses
  • When using an off-road vehicle other than a car like a snowmobile, etc.

Carrying a Firearm in Your Car

Class A LTC holders in the state to Massachusetts can carry handguns or short-barreled firearms in their car. However, this license will have to be under the vehicle owner’s direct control. On the other hand, Class B LTC holders can keep an unloaded firearm in their vehicle in a safe storage container. Without an LTC, it is illegal to knowingly possess a firearm.

Gun Registration in Massachusetts

Gun registration is possible in Massachusetts but is not always necessary. Most authorized sellers provide a detailed report of all their transactions to the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services, which keeps a comprehensive record of sales data.

Attorney Benjamin UrbelisIf you are looking to learn more about Massachusetts firearm laws, contact Urbelis Law at (617) 830-2188. While owning a firearm is your second amendment right, there are certain factors that you will have to consider when buying and owning them, and we can help you.

What Happens If I Don’t Respond to A Criminal Citation?

Getting a citation is never a good thing but getting a criminal citation can be especially nerve-wracking. When people receive a criminal citation, they’re often left with many unanswered questions. Let’s dig a little deeper to find out what your criminal citation means and what the possible consequences of not responding are. 

What is a Criminal Citation? 

A criminal citation is a written citation of charges being held against you. You may receive a criminal citation in person, directly from an officer, or in the mail. Typically, there will be a 4-day response window for the criminal citation from the date it’s received. That 4-day window allows the defendant to request something called a clerk magistrate hearing to settle their case. 

How Does a Clerk Magistrate Hearing Differ from a Normal Hearing? 

A clerk magistrate hearing is a type of hearing that’s less formal than a traditional court hearing. Multiple cases are over-seen by a judge in a short period of time, rather than a full-blown court hearing. A clerk magistrate hearing can help the defendant avoid jail time and make the fees (if any apply) for the citation more manageable. 

What if You Miss the 4-Day Window? 

If you don’t respond to a criminal citation within 4 days, you’ll likely receive a court summons for a trial and possible arraignment. The best way to avoid this, of course, is to respond to the citation within the 4-day window. Some cities and states are more lenient than others and if you respond to the criminal citation in person, you may be granted a clerk magistrate hearing even if the 4-day window has passed.

When to Seek Professional Advice 

You should seek the advice of an attorney if you’re facing a criminal citation you would like to fight, or if you missed the 4-day window and have received a court summons. Even in the event of a court summons and hearing, you can be acquitted of the criminal citation if your attorney is able to win the case. 

Attorney Benjamin UrbelisCriminal citations should be taken very seriously because if they aren’t, the consequences can quickly become more severe. Respond to your criminal citation as soon as it’s received or enlist the help of an attorney if you have any questions regarding the criminal citation you received. Have an attorney help oversee your clerk magistrate hearing to ensure you receive a fair ruling by the judge and avoid further trial or jail time.