Decision Sharris, Jr. v. Commonwealth

Date: 09/17/2018
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Sharris, Jr. vs. Commonwealth
Supreme Judicial Court, September 17, 2018
(Defendant’s Rights/Incompetency)

Maintaining a pending first degree murder charge against an incompetent defendant who will never regain competency, and where maintaining the charges does not serve the State interest of protecting the public, is a violation of the defendant's substantive due process rights.

 “General Laws c. 123, § 16 (f), provides for the dismissal of criminal charges when an individual is found

incompetent to stand trial. The statute requires mandatory dismissal of charges at the time when the individual would have been eligible for parole if he or she had been convicted and had been sentenced to the maximum statutory sentence.  Although G. L. c. 123, § 16 (f), does not explicitly exclude murder in the first degree from its provisions for dismissal, it does so effectively, because the statute is based on the date of parole eligibility, and there is no parole eligibility date for the offense of murder in the first degree.”

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