Christie v. Commonwealth, 484 Mass. 397 (2020)
Analysis applied to motions to stay execution of a criminal defendant's sentence pending appeal, given the health risk to persons in custody arising from the COVID-19 pandemic
Committee for Public Counsel Services v. Chief Justice of Trial Court, 484 Mass. 431 and 484 Mass. 1029 (2020).
Conditions for release of pretrial detainees and incarcerated individuals for medical release.
Foster v. Commissioner of Correction, 484 Mass. 698 (2020).
Judges should not make drug-treatment-related civil commitments absent a finding that the danger posed by an individual's substance abuse outweighed risk of transmission of COVID-19 in congregate settings.
Guidelines and reports
Sentencing Guidelines, Massachusetts Sentencing Commission, 2017.
Sentencing Best Practices, Mass. Trial Court, 2016.
Reports of working groups in BMC, District, Juvenile, and Superior Courts, with information regarding the purposes of sentencing and the empirically-based effect of sentences and probationary terms on recidivism.
Master Crime List, Mass. Sentencing Commission
Lists felonies and misdemeanors first by MGL reference, and then alphabetically by offense, specifying the penalty type and sentencing information. Easiest way to find penalties for particular offenses.
MGL c. 22E § 3 DNA collection required upon felony conviction. Probation officers have authority to take sample.
MGL c.27, § 5 Parole Board
MGL c. 127, § 129D Good time. Good time credit for state prison sentences is 7.5 days per program per month
MGL c.127, §§ 151A-151N Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision
MGL c.276, § 58A (1) "The commonwealth may move, based on dangerousness, for an order of pretrial detention...[for a person] arrested and charged with a violation of paragraph (a), (c), or (m) of section 10 of chapter 269 [illegal weapons]."
MGL c.276, §§ 83-103 Probation Officers
MGL c. 276 § 87B Eligible offenders can earn probation compliance credits that reduce the length of post-disposition probation supervision.
MGL c. 278 § 18 Continued without a finding, nolo contendere, specific dispositions.
MGL c.279, Judgment and Execution
MGL c.279, § 25 Habitual Offender (3 Strikes)
Mass. Criminal Procedure Rule 28 Judgment
Mass. Criminal Procedure Rule 29 Revise and Revoke
Mass. Criminal Procedure Rule 31 Stay of execution; relief pending review automatic expiration of stay
Uniform Magistrate Rules: Rule 6: Preliminary Probation Revocation Hearings
Selected case law
Blakely v. Washington, 542 US 296 (2004)
Applying the Apprendi decision to Washington law, the Supreme Court held that the 6th amendment requires any fact (other than a prior conviction) relied upon to impose an exceptional sentence must be admitted by the defendant or found by a jury.
Buckman v. Commissioner of Correction, 484 Mass. 14 (2020) Medical parole
Court spells out the correct procedure for requesting medical parole, overruling former Dept. of Correction regulations.
Com. v. Baez, 480 Mass. 328 (2018)
Juvenile offenses can be used as predicate offenses for enhanced penalties.
Com. v. Beverly, 485 Mass. 1 (2020)
Continued Without a Finding (CWOF) is a sentence that can be challenged by a rule 29 revise and revoke procedure. A judge can't issue a CWOF without terms and conditions or probation.
Com. v. Coelho, 96 Mass. App. Ct. 901 (2019) Revise and revoke
A defendant can't file a "placeholder" motion within the 60 day time limit and then later supply the grounds on which it is based. Both the motion and an affidavit explaining the reasoning must be filed within the 60 days.
Com. v. Eldred, 480 Mass. 90 (2018)
Probation can be revoked for failing drug test. "We conclude that, in appropriate circumstances, a judge may order a defendant who is addicted to drugs to remain drug free as a condition of probation, and that a defendant may be found to be in violation of his or her probation by subsequently testing positive for an illegal drug."
Com. v. Feliz, 481 Mass. 689 (2019)
The state law (MGL c.265, § 47) that requires everyone placed on probation for certain sex offenses wear a GPS bracelet is too broad. The court must decide on a case by case basis whether the particular reasons for imposing GPS monitoring outweigh the intrusion on that defendant's privacy.
Com. v. Henry, 475 Mass. 117 (2016)
Restitution and probation. "In determining whether to impose restitution and the amount of any such restitution, a judge must consider a defendant's ability to pay, and may not impose a longer period of probation or extend the length of probation because of a defendant's limited ability to pay restitution." Case then sets out the legal standard for determining the defendant's ability to pay.
Com. v. Martinez, 480 Mass. 777 (2018)
Restitution of court costs or fees after conviction is invalidated
Com. v. McGonagle, 478 Mass. 675 (2018)
Victim impact statements. "We all stand equal before the bar of justice, and it is neither cruel nor unusual or irrational, nor is it violative of a defendant's due process guarantees, for a judge to listen with intensity to the perspective of a crime victim" when making a sentencing decision.
Com. v. Montarvo, 486 Mass. 535 (2020)
The "three strikes law," MGL c.279, § 25 (a) allows a judge to sentence a defendant to probation. "Should the Legislature decide to do so, it may amend § 25 (a) to bar a judge from imposing probation."
Com. v. Nash / Com. v. Elibert, 486 Mass. 394 (2020)
Provides detailed guidance on how the state or a defendant should appeal a stay of sentence pending appeal. Also provides clarifying guidance after Christie v. Com. on how judges should apply the "COVID-19 factor" when considering a stay.
Com. v. Norman, 484 Mass. 330 (2020).
Pre-trial use of GPS monitoring.
Com. v. Plasse, 481 Mass. 199 (2019)
A trial court judge may consider a defendant's need for rehabilitation in imposing a sentence of incarceration after violation of probation.
Com. v. Rodriguez, 482 Mass. 366 (2019)
Lengthy discussion of seemingly contradictory mandatory minimum sentences in GL c.269, § 10 (m) and appropriate statutory construction.
Com. v. Rossetti, 95 Mass. App. Ct. 552 (2019) Unlawful disposition but no sentence
Where a judge had entered a continuance without a finding pursuant to G. L. c. 278, § 18, but did not impose specific conditions as required by the statute and then immediately dismissed the case, the disposition was unlawful. But because that disposition was not a sentence, relief under rule 29 (a) was not available. Instead, the Commonwealth should have filed an appeal pursuant to Mass. R. Crim. P. 15 (a) within thirty days of the date on which the charge was dismissed.
Com. v. Ruiz, 480 Mass. 683 (2018)
Habitual criminal. "The Commonwealth has a right under G. L. c. 278, § 28E, and Mass. R. Crim. P. 15 (a) (1) to appeal from the dismissal of the sentence enhancement portion of an indictment." Also, where "predicate convictions supporting the sentence enhancements had arisen from two separate criminal episodes that had been the subject of indictments issued by one grand jury, and in which the defendant had pleaded guilty to both predicate charges in one proceeding, ... a review of the statutory history of § 25 (a) and its predecessor statutes confirmed that predicate convictions arising from separate qualifying criminal incidents or episodes need not be separately prosecuted in order for a person to be considered a habitual criminal under § 25 (a)."
Com. v. Tejeda, 481 Mass. 794 (2019)
Usually, motions to revise and revoke a sentence have to be based only on the facts as they existed at the time of sentencing. This case creates a limited exception - a judge can consider a sentence on a codefendant who was tried separately, convicted of the same crime, equally responsible, but given a different sentence. The judge may choose to revise the first defendant's sentence in the interest of fairness.
Com. v. Watt, 484 Mass. 742 (2020)
A murder was committed by 2 defendants - one was 17 and the other was 18 at the time of the crime. The case was remanded to look at research on brain development after 17 to help decide whether the sentence imposed on the 18 year old defendant (life in prison without the possibility of parole), was constitutional.
Com. v. Williams, 96 Mass. App. Ct. 610 (2019)
Correcting a sentence under criminal rule 30(a) is not available to a person who has already completed the sentence.
Goe v. Commissioner of Probation, 473 Mass. 815 (2016)
Discusses the appropriate forum to challenge a special condition of probation when a probationer is transferred from one state to another under the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision.
LaChance v. Commissioner of Correction, 463 Mass. 767 (2012)
Provides procedural safeguards for those in segregated confinement.
Comm. v. Perez, (Perez I) 477 Mass. 677 (2017)
"Where a juvenile is sentenced for a nonmurder offense or offenses and the aggregate time to be served prior to parole eligibility exceeds that applicable to a juvenile convicted of murder, the sentence cannot be reconciled with art. 26 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights unless, after a hearing considering the appropriate factors, the judge makes a finding that the circumstances warrant treating the juvenile more harshly for parole purposes than a juvenile convicted of murder."
Comm. v. Perez (Perez II), 480 Mass. 562 (2018)
Clarifies "the extraordinary circumstances requirement justifying longer periods of incarceration prior to eligibility for parole for juveniles who did not commit murder than for those who did."
Diatchenko v. District Attorney for the Suffolk Dist., 466 Mass. 655 (2013)
The SJC concluded "that the imposition of a sentence of life without the possibility of parole on juveniles who are under the age of eighteen when they commit the crime of murder in the first degree is unconstitutional..."
Diatchenko v. District Attorney for the Suffolk Dist., 471 Mass. 12 (2015)
Juvenile homicide offenders serving mandatory sentences of life without parole have a right to counsel at their initial parole hearing, including the right to have counsel appointed if they are indigent. They also have the right to "public funds, if they are indigent, in order to secure reasonably necessary expert assistance at their initial parole hearing." In addition, a juvenile homicide offender who is denied parole has a right to obtain judicial review of the parole board's decision through an action in the nature of certiorari, brought in the Superior Court.
- Comprehensive recidivism study, Mass. Sentencing Commission
- District Court Complaint Language Manual, Mass. District Court
Includes suggested language and offense codes used by prosecutors to charge someone with any of approximately 5000 offenses mentioned in the General Laws, Code of Mass. Regulations, and municipal ordinances & by-laws; provides the authorized sentencing range for each offense; and, if the penalty for an offense is derived from a different statute, that statute is referenced.
- Racial disparities in the Massachusetts criminal system, Report by the Criminal Justice Policy Program (produced at the request of Chief Justice Ralph Gants), 2020
Probation and parole
- About probation, Mass. Probation Service.
A probation sentence, sometimes called community supervision, gives you the opportunity to stay in the community, work, and be with your family and friends with specific conditions instead of being sentenced to prison or the house of correction. A probation officer will be assigned to help and monitor you during your time on probation.
- Adult Compact Version 2, Council of State Governments. Concise article explaining the interstate compact for adult supervision.
- ELMO (Electronic Monitoring Program) information, Mass. Probation Service.
Find out how the Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and remote breath alcohol monitoring devices used for probation work.
- Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision. Site includes rules, bylaws, advisory opinions, bench book for judges and court personnel, forms, and more. Everything you need to know about the Interstate Compact.
- Parole records and hearings, Parole Board.
Find information about parole hearings and life sentence parole hearings.
- Surveys of Massachusetts Sentencing Practices, Massachusetts Sentencing Commission.
Pardon and commutation
- Executive clemency guidelines, Gov. Baker, 2015.
Provides guidance on the requirements to be considered for a pardon or commutation, with emphasis on key points of interest to the Advisory Board of Pardons.
- Executive clemency overview, Mass. Parole Board.
Explains the difference between pardon and commutation, with guidelines and petitions.
- Massachusetts restoration of rights, pardon, expungement and sealing, Margaret Love, 2016.
Provides detailed summary of law and procedure on pardons.
Criminal law, Mass. practice v.32, West, 2001 with supplement
LexisNexis practice guide: Massachusetts criminal law. Lexis, annual. Chapters 8, 9, 10.
Sentencing, probation and parole, MCLE, 2018
Standards of the Massachusetts Probation Service, Probation Service, 2011
|Last updated:||January 15, 2021|