Close Menu
Better Understand the Law
Home > Massachusetts Criminal Defense Law

Criminal Law in Massachusetts

To find a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, ask the bar association or friends for referrals or go ahead and Google, “How to find a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney”.

Once you get the lawyer’s name and number, call right away. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a crime in Massachusetts, the stakes are too high to take a “wait and see”approach.

If you or a loved one have been questioned in or arrested for a Massachusetts crime,this article was written for you. We’ll discuss:

  • Massachusetts criminal laws;
  • What you need to know about criminal defense in Massachusetts; and
  • How to work with your Massachusetts criminal defense attorney.

Massachusetts Criminal Laws

The goal of criminal laws is to protect individuals, animals, and society. Actions or inactions that are considered to be dangerous are criminalized.

  • In an effort to rehabilitate, punish, provide restitution, and protect society, punishments are doled out if an individual is convicted of a crime.
  • To be convicted, an individual must either plead guilty or be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Massachusetts’ criminal laws are found in the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) chapter 263-272. There are many crimes listed in the MGL, including DUI, child neglect, computer crimes, identity theft, arson, drug possession, disorderly conduct, hit and run, shoplifting, theft, rape, reckless driving, and drug possession.

Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time.

For example, in Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for:

  • Assault and Battery is 6 years or 10 years. (Mass. Gen. Laws. ch.277, В§63).
  • Theft is 6 years. (Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 277, В§63).
  • Disordering Conduct is 6 years. (Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 277, В§63).

If the statute of limitations has passed in your criminal defense case, the charges will be dropped. Ask your criminal law attorney what the statute of limitations is in your particular case.


If you’re like most people, the threat of criminal punishment is at the forefront of your mind. For example, these are questions criminal defense lawyers answer every day: “What happens next?” “Will I go to jail?” “Does Massachusetts have the death penalty?”

Your attorney will analyze the charges against you and the circumstances of the alleged crime; he or she will let you know what punishment you can expect, if convicted. (By the way, Massachusetts no longer has the death penalty.)

For example, in Massachusetts, sentencing guidelines call for:

  • Life in prison for murder.
  • Not more than 2.5 years in jail, a fine of $500 – $5,000, and up to a one-year driver’s license suspension for a 1st offense DUI.
  • Between 5 years and 20 years for armed robbery. The actual punishment depends upon the circumstances surrounding the crime.

Your punishment will be based upon the sentencing guidelines and the totality of the circumstances of the crime. Restitution such as fines, community service, counseling, and educational awareness programs may be part of any criminal sentence.

What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense

Bottom line: Get help from a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney.

  • You need a criminal defense attorney even if you didn’t commit the crime you’re being accused of.
  • Ask the police if you can leave the station or wherever you are. If they respond, “yes”, leave; if they say, “no”, ask for an attorney.
  • Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it to your attorney.

How to Work with a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer

Throughout your representation, you need to be your own advocate and a team player. Be on your best behavior and:

  • When your lawyer gives you advice, take it.
  • Be completely honest and open with your defense lawyer. (Your conversations are kept confidential. It’s the law.)
  • Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it.
  • Return all telephone phone calls promptly.
  • Provide all requested information promptly.
  • Stay in contact with your defense lawyer’s office. Update your address and phone number if either changes.
  • To get all the facts, formulate your defense, or prepare you for court, your attorney may ask your difficult questions or challenge you. That’s okay.
  • To put forth your best interest, your attorney may be polite and cooperative with the alleged victims, police officers, investigators, and the prosecutor. That’s okay.

Bottom Line: You need individualized advice and aggressive legal representation.

Your Massachusetts criminal defense attorney will help you immediately, protecting your legal rights and formulating strong defense strategies.

Share This Page:
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn