What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

In most states, there are two classifications of crimes: misdemeanors and felonies. Occasionally, states will also include petty offenses as an additional classification. These classifications can also include different levels or cases, but today we will be discussing the differences between a misdemeanor and a felony.

What is a Misdemeanor?

In Massachusetts, a misdemeanor is a criminal offense that does not carry any potential for time in state prison. Depending on the crime, the penalties for a misdemeanor can range from a $50 fine to two and a half years in the House of Corrections.

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor defense, the crime cannot be sealed from your record until five years after conviction. Having a misdemeanor sealed from your record does not mean it won’t still show up on certain types of background checks.

If you are facing a misdemeanor criminal charge, contact our team of criminal defense attorneys at Urbelis Law today at (617) 830-2188.

Some misdemeanors include:

  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Failure to Report Hazing
  • Keeping a Disorderly House
  • Minor Transporting/In Possession of Alcohol
  • Providing Alcohol to a Minor
  • Trespassing
  • Open and Gross Lewd and Lascivious Behavior
  • Resisting Arrest

What is a Felony?

In Massachusetts, a felony is a very serious criminal offense that is publishable by time in state prison. There are several classes/degrees of felonies with punishments ranging from less than five years but more than one year in prison through life imprisonment and the death penalty.

Crimes that are considered a felony include murder, rape, burglary, kidnapping, and arson.

Criminal Defense with Benjamin Urbelis

Attorney Benjamin UrbelisFor over ten years, Managing Attorney Benjamin Urbelis of Urbelis Law has been representing clients throughout Massachusetts in state and federal courts. Benjamin has represented several high-profile clients, has earned multiple trial advocacy honors including National Trial Lawyers’ “Top 100 Trial Lawyers”, and has obtained Not Guilty verdicts in more than 80% of his cases that have been taken to trial.

To get your free consultation, contact us today at (617) 830-2188.

Why You Should Hire Urbelis Law, LLC for Your Criminal Case

Being accused of a crime can be scary and overwhelming and the criminal process can be extremely complicated. At Urbelis Law, our team of criminal attorneys are dedicated to truly knowing each and one of our clients and fighting for their rights. Our team is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and has won a “not guilty” verdict in 90% of the cases he has taken to trial.

Criminal Defense

When you’re accused of a crime, your life can potentially be completely altered and having an experienced criminal attorney on your side is crucial. In Massachusetts, the penalties for a felony can include incarceration, significant fines, and can follow you well into the future. Managing attorney of Urbelis Law, Benjamin Urbelis, will ensure your constitutional rights have no been violated in connection with obtaining evidence and will also be able to raise a substantive or procedural defense for your case.

Types of Criminal Defense Urbelis Law, LLC Offers

With a highly experience criminal defense team, we are able to represent clients in state court as well as federal criminal matters.

Our practice areas include:

  • OUI/DUI
  • Drug Crimes
  • Violent Crimes
  • Sex Crimes
  • Theft Crimes
  • White Collar Crimes
  • Gun and Weapon Crimes
  • Administrative Hearings
  • Police Misconduct and Civil Rights

Contact Urbelis Law Today

Attorney Benjamin UrbelisIf you have been accused of a crime in Massachusetts, there is no time to waste when looking for a criminal attorney. Our team at Urbelis Law will be able to provide you with a free consultation 24/7. Contact us today at (617) 830-2188.

Knowing Your Rights When Pulled Over by Police

When being pulled over by police for a suspected DUI, it’s important to know your rights. More often than not, people tend to be very compliant with these types of traffic stops and have been taught over the years to be as cooperative as possible.

What people do not typically know is that being cooperative with all requests from officers can lead to your detriment. Knowing which requests are within your rights to decline and which you legally have to adhere is crucial.

Responding to Questioning

When an officer pulls you over for a suspected DUI, there are several questions the officer(s) will ask you. They will first request your license, registration, and proof of insurance, which you must provide.

If the officer(s) ask if you have been drinking, you have the right to refuse to answer since answering this question can be incriminating. The officer(s) will then ask you to step out of your vehicle and it is within your rights to respectfully decline and remain in your vehicle unless you are placed under arrest. If you are placed under arrest, you must comply.

Field Sobriety Tests

After exiting your vehicle, the officer(s) might ask you to take a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer and in Massachusetts, you have the right to decline this request. These tests can be difficult to complete due to the stress of the situation, even if you have not been consuming alcohol.

If you are placed under arrest for a DUI, you will be asked to submit a breathalyzer or chemical test at the station. You do have a right to refuse these tests but in the state of Massachusetts, if you decide to refuse them, your license may be suspended due to previous arrests or convicted DUIs.

What to Do After a DUI Arrest

After a DUI arrest, the first thing you should do is hire Benjamin Urbelis of Urblis Law, LLC as your DUI attorney. For over ten years, Attorney Benjamin P. Urbelis has been representing clients across Massachusetts and has earned multiple trial advocacy honors.

Do not say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions until your DUI attorney, Benjamin Urbelis, is present. Your DUI attorney will provide representation for both the administrative and criminal components of your DUI charge and will aggressively work to minimize any consequences you are facing.

To schedule your free consultation with Urbleis Law, LLC, call us today at (617) 830-2188.

Why You Should Hire an Attorney for Your DUI Charge

After being arrested for a DUI, your case will be heard in criminal court, which means you could potentially face probation, jail time, and expensive fines. With expensive consequences, having legal representation to handle your DUI is so important.

What Does a DUI Lawyer Do?

A DUI lawyer will review your entire case, lay out any potential consequences, and create a legal strategy to help reduce or eliminate your charges. Your lawyer will explain to you all of your legal rights, potential outcomes for your specific situation, and legally support you through your DUI case.

Having an experienced DUI lawyer on your side is crucial for defending your rights and challenge the accusations against you. They will challenge the results of a breath or blood test and point out any errors in arrest procedure.

DUI cases also involve a lot of paperwork that can be confusing and overwhelming, and your DUI lawyer will be able to help manage this paperwork, complete important forms, and make any calls on your behalf. In addition to this, your DUI lawyer will also schedule your DUI hearings and other court matters.

Your Boston DUI Lawyer

Attorney Benjamin UrbelisIf you’ve recently been arrested for a DUI charge, our team at Urbelis Law, LLC is dedicated to helping you defend your rights. Our Managing Attorney, Ben Urbelis, will work aggressively to advocate for you, defend your rights, and pursue justice.

Contact our team today at (617) 830-2188 for your free consultation with our DUI attorneys.

Attorney Benjamin Urbelis – Implications of new criminal record law

On May 4, an amendment to G.L.c. 276, §100A will significantly relax the requirements for sealing a criminal record.

From trivial poor choices to first-degree felonies, everyone makes mistakes and has regrets. But it is only with time for reflection, along with opportunity, that people can grow and better themselves.

The amendment will provide second-chance opportunities to many who had previously counted themselves out.

Highlights of new law

Under the current law, a person convicted of a misdemeanor must wait at least 10 years from any misdemeanor conviction, all court supervision, probation and the completion of any sentence before his record can be sealed upon request.

A felony conviction requires a 15-year waiting period from all such court contact.

And although they do not count as criminal convictions, cases that have been continued without a finding — or CWOF’ed — and eventually dismissed remain part of all Criminal Offender Record Information.

As of May 4, the required waiting period to seal a misdemeanor conviction will be cut in half, to five years, and a felony conviction may be sealed after 10 years.

Additionally, under the new amendment, the waiting period begins from either the time of conviction or release from incarceration; probation no longer tolls the start of the waiting period.

That is a significant advantage for anyone seeking to seal his record after serving a lengthy probation sentence.

For example, if an April 2007 misdemeanor conviction resulted in a five-year term of probation, under the current law, the person would have to wait until 2022 before requesting to seal the record (five years of probation from date of conviction, plus applicable waiting period). Now, on May 4, the person can walk into court and have his misdemeanor conviction sealed that day.

Cases that are CWOF’ed are usually done so for the purpose of avoiding a criminal conviction for first-time offenders. It requires the defendant to admit to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty, and in exchange the case will be dismissed upon the completion of the court’s requirements, which usually includes a term of probation.

Serious charges are statutorily prohibited from being CWOF’ed, so the offenses that are afforded this disposition are usually misdemeanors.

While a CWOF is not a conviction, thus allowing those with a CWOF on their record to truthfully answer “no” when asked if they have ever been convicted of a crime, it currently appears on all CORI checks.

It seems counterintuitive that the purpose of pleading to a CWOF is to have the case dismissed, yet it remains part of the criminal record, and anyone performing a CORI check will still see that the person admitted to the offense.

As of May 4, that will no longer be true. Under the new law, cases that have been CWOF’ed will not appear on standard CORI searches, and there is no required waiting period before a person can motion the court to seal any case that was CWOF’ed.

Protecting the public: exceptions to sealing

The amended law may cause initial concern among the general public, stirring up visions of convicted felons working in law enforcement and sex offenders teaching our children.

If I thought the new amendment had the potential for such unintended consequences, I would be outraged as well. But even with the amendment to §100A, the safeguards and exceptions remain in place. Crimes against public justice, such as perjury, escape from prison, resisting arrest and public official corruption, as well as firearms offenses, are excluded from being sealed under G.L.c. 276, §100A.

Sex offenses require a 15-year waiting period from any and all court supervision and probation before such records may be sealed, and Level 2 and 3 sex offenders are prohibited from having any sex offenses sealed.

Law enforcement may still access and consider all cases that were CWOF’ed when charging and prosecuting repeat offenders.

Further, the statute provides for sealed records to be “unsealed” in specific circumstances.

Records may be unsealed to be used as evidence in custody or child visitation hearings, abuse in restraining order proceedings, and for sentencing in subsequent criminal proceedings.

Under G.L.c. 6, §172, certain requestors of CORI information are provided access to sealed records, including firearm-licensing authorities, foster home agencies, law enforcement and organizations working with children. So the entities that protect the public and are entrusted with the care of our children still have unfettered access to all criminal record information, even sealed records.

In fact, G.L.c. 71, §38R requires school districts to conduct criminal background checks on any employees, contractors and volunteers who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children.

The affirmative, mandatory CORI checks should promote public confidence and reinforce the notion that our children’s safety comes above all else.

Who benefits?

With the statutory exceptions to record sealing, we can alleviate the fear of having the most violent and predatory criminal offenders gaining access to firearms and employment that might jeopardize public safety.

The amendment to G.L.c. 276, §100A was not intended for, and still protects us from, such results. The beneficiaries of the amendment are otherwise law-abiding people, and their families, whose lives have been stifled by convictions from several years prior.

While a person with a criminal record will still be prevented from pursuing certain jobs and careers, there is no reason to bar someone, several years after a minor conviction, from finding a job and finally becoming a contributing member of society.

A person with one minor misdemeanor conviction should not have to wait as long as a person convicted of a felony before applying to seal his record, and the new law still recognizes that premise.

In Massachusetts, most new criminal cases are brought against defendants who already have several prior arrests or convictions on their record. This amendment was not drafted to protect the career criminal.

It was drafted to allow the 23-year-old college graduate to start a career despite the disorderly conduct conviction he received in high school, at the age of 17.

It allows the 35-year-old professional with no criminal record other than a CWOF for a minor driving offense to rest assured that the charge will no longer cause embarrassment by appearing on a CORI check.

It allows someone who was convicted of a violent offense 20 years ago, and who subsequently served 10 years in prison as a 20-year-old, from now obtaining employment in order to feed his family. After 20 years to reflect on his mistake and grow as a person, this amendment could provide hope for a second chance, where he might otherwise have given up.

This man is grateful for his chance at a fresh start, and so is his family.

Attorney Ben Urbelis – Impact of Statewide Ban on Texting While Driving

As the statewide ban on texting while driving goes into effect Thursday, many officers of the law are calling it another “unenforceable law” on the books. Police will need to determine if drivers are illegally responding to their BlackBerry’s blipping red light, or just legally dialing.

“It’s difficult for an officer to know what a person is doing in the car,” said Chief Wayne Sampson of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. “There’s going to be a real problem with enforcement here.”

Boston attorney Ben Urbelis said it will be difficult for the state to prove Attorney Benjamin Urbelissomeone was really texting, because subpoenaed cell records will probably only come into play in cases involving fatalities.

“If a person cited for texting while driving appeals the ticket and argues that he or she was actually just picking up the phone or dialing a number,” Urbelis said, “the police probably won’t have any real evidence to say otherwise.” There are, however, several signs that a driver may be texting and driving, such as driving slowly and braking erratically.

“There are some cases that will appear more clear cut than others, as with any traffic violation law,” Registrar Rachel Kaprielian admitted. “This is not different than 100 other moving violation laws.”

Attorney Ben Urbelis Law – Wairi not guilty of production or attempted production of child pornography

A federal jury of 10 men and two women returned a verdict of not guilty this morning on three counts of production of child pornography and attempted production of child pornography in the case of Josh Wairi, the Graham & Parks school teacher arrested in April 2014.

The jury found Wairi guilty of possession and transportation of child pornography – charges he admitted to – after deliberating Friday afternoon and a little over an hour this morning. They had Monday and the weekend off and reached a verdict at 10:30 a.m.

The result is the best possible outcome for Wairi and his defense team, J. W. Carney and Benjamin Urbelis. Defense lawyers argued that Wairi’s filming of naked fifth- and sixth-grade students in the shower at a 2011 school class trip to Nature’s Classroom in Yarmouth Port, Mass., did not qualify as child pornography because while the videos were reprehensible and illegal, they were not sexually explicit and therefore did not qualify as child pornography.

The jury also found Wairi not guilty on attempted production of child pornography, because he recorded what he wanted to record – to be found guilty, the jury would have to have found he wanted more than what he got. Wairi also recorded video with a cellphone camera in the locker room of the Kennedy Pool in Somerville. At the time Wairi was a school teacher at the Healey school in Somerville.

Wairi’s videos were focused primarily on the midsection of the boys he recorded. The children were not readily identifiable in the videos that the government showed to the jury, and government witnesses said that the heads of children were cut off in the videos. “You could almost never see the head,” prosecutor Susanne Sullivan Jacobus said in her closing arguments to the jury Friday.

The government presented no evidence that Wairi shared or uploaded he videos he created. The basis of Wairi’s transportation of child pornography conviction was the sharing of images he had obtained from other sources, including a Russian image-trading website.

Judge William G. Young set Wairi’s sentencing hearing for 2 p.m. July 29.

Young will also hold a hearing at 2 p.m. May 15 to consider the government’s request for a harsher sentence because Wairi was a caretaker of children; because the pornography Wairi possessed involved some minors under the age of 12; and because that pornography may have portrayed “sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence.”

Urbelis Law – Former mob boss charged with murder of witness

Aging former mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme is being held without bail on charges that he took part in a 1993 gangland slaying of Boston nightclub owner.

Salemme, 82, formerly of Sharon, Massachusetts, was arrested Monday, according to court documents. The criminal complaint says Salemme was using the alias of “Richard Parker” and was apparently living in Atlanta, Georgia. A press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston says Salemme was arrested Wednesday morning in Connecticut.

Salemme, dressed in a blue T-shirt and khakis, walked into a federal courtroom in Boston hunched over on Wednesday afternoon. When he spotted longtime prosecutor Fred Wyshak, he said, “Hey Fred, fancy meeting you here.”

During the hearing Wyshak told the judge that Salemme was on the run when he was picked up. Salemme’s attorney, Steven Boozang, denied that allegation outside court, saying his client was on the way back from Atlanta to face charges.

Details on the case are thin. Prosecutors asked that the affidavit – which would shed more light on the alleged crime – remain under seal “because it contains sensitive law enforcement information on a matter which is a continuing subject of investigation,” according to a court document.

At one point Salemme was in the Federal Witness Protection Program after he became a witness in the case against notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger. It’s unclear if he was still in the program when he was arrested. Both Wyshak and Boozang declined to answer that question.

Calling Salemme a considerable flight risk because of the severity of charges and noting he was already on the run, Wyshak asked the judge to hold him without bail. Boozang agreed but left the door open to try and fight detention down the road.

Salemme was handcuffed by Providence FBI agent Jeffrey Cady and led away.

The complaint states the murder happened on May 10, 1993, which is the same day Boston nightclub manager Steven DiSarro was killed. His body was exhumed from behind a Providence mill building earlier this year.

DiSarro’s son, Michael, was in attendance for the hearing.

Outside court Benjamin Urbelis, an attorney representing the DiSarro family, Attorney Benjamin Urbelistold reporters it was an “emotional day” for the family.

“For 23 years the DiSarro family has had more questions than answers,” Urbelis said. “So they are hoping now at some point they will have their questions answered and eventually justice for Steven.”

The charge comes with the possibility of the death sentence or life in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s press release, though “actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.”

Rhode Island mobster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca has already been charged in the DiSarro case for allegedly lying to prosecutors about what he knew of the crime.

The FBI along with the Rhode Island Medical Examiner’s Office exhumed DiSarro’s remains in March. Using DNA results, his body was positively identified earlier this month. DiSarro, previously of Westwood, Massachusetts, was 43 when he went missing.

As Target 12 was first to report, FBI investigators began searching for human remains behind 715 Branch Ave. in Providence earlier this year, and human remains were removed from the site on March 31.

In the indictment against DeLuca, investigators say DiSarro was murdered by Salemme on May 10, 1993.

“Salemme arranged with the defendant DeLuca to dispose of the body at a location in Providence, Rhode Island,” the indictment states. “Shortly after the murder of DiSarro, Salemme transported DiSarro’s body to Providence, R.I., where the defendant Deluca arranged to have the body buried in the vicinity of 715 Branch Ave.”

Salemme has previously denied he had anything to do with DiSarro’s murder. According to investigators, Deluca “falsely stated” during a March 2011 questioning by FBI agents that he had “no information regarding the disappearance of Stephen DiSarro.”

According to court documents in another case, prosecutors say notorious Boston mobster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi claims he walked in on the murder in Salemme’s home.

Boozang called the allegation suspect.

“He just happened to be in the neighborhood and witness this crime,” Boozang said. “It’s untrue and he will go to trial.”

Urbelis Law Ranked – Best DUI Lawyers in Boston

Attorney Benjamin Urbelis

Attorney Ben Urbelis was recently named a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by National Trial Lawyers. His firm, Urbelis Law, is a criminal law practice focused on DUI defense. The firm has obtained a “Not Guilty” verdict in 90% of its trial cases. In addition to being name a Top 100 Trial Laywer, attorney Benjamin Urbelis has also been named a Top 100 Attorney by the American Academy of Trial Attorney and was listed in the Top One Percent by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

Urbelis Law – Cops: Firefighter Attacked Homeless Man For Taking too Long to Order Food

Joseph Ward, 37, was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after he allegedly followed a man out of Anna’s Taqueria in Brookline late Sunday and pushed him. The incident stems from the accusation that Ward has upset in the time it took the man to order.

The victim told the police that Ward allegedly pushed the him to the ground just after calling him a “f****** homeless a******”.

The man admitted to officers that after Ward asked him to hurry up, he told him they could take it outside, but did not think they would get into a physical altercation, according to a police report obtained by INSIDE EDITION.

A witness claims that while outside, Ward allegedly pushed the man to the ground calling him a “homeless f***,”

After the man fell to his knees, Ward allegedly threw a bottle that hit the alleged victim in the back and threw food at the man, the witness told police.

Ward allegedly then straddled the man on the ground continuing his assault until a woman yelled at him to stop, according to a witness.

 

That witness told police she saw Ward “really hitting a guy on the ground, he punched him multiple times and kicked him on the side,” the police report notes.

Police said Ward allegedly fled the scene and was found by them shortly thereafter, telling cops: “I know what this is about and I did punch him.”

He claimed to only have punched the victim and did not kick him, according to police .

The alleged victim was taken to a local hospital to be treated for a laceration to his right eyebrow.

Ward, who has served as a firefighter with the Brookline Fire Department for almost 10 years, was placed on administrative leave following the incident, the department told INSIDE EDITION.

The department said it plans to take “appropriate action when it has concluded its investigation.”

He was released on Tuesday on his own recognizance by Judge Mary Dacey White, who ordered him to have no contact with the alleged victim or witnesses. The government had requested $10,000 bail.

Benjamin Urbelis, Ward’s attorney, told INSIDE EDITION: “We’re pleased that despite the fact that the government asked for $10,000 bail, Mr. Ward was released on his own recognizance today. He’s a 10 year veteran and a respected member of the Brookline Fire Department.”

Urbelis also said he requested a copy of security video from the restaurant where the alleged altercation began. “The investigation is still ongoing, so we’re looking to gather as much information as possible,” he said.

Ward is due back in court on November 19 for a pretrial conference.