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Am I going to jail if convicted?

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The time spent fighting domestic assault and battery charges varies from case to case. Sometimes, but not often, it’s possible to resolve the matter at the first hearing, or you may have to go all the way to trial, or sometimes it’s something in between.

How Long Before I Can Return Home After a Domestic Assault and Battery Charge in Massachusetts?

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The best-case scenario is to have the judge dismiss the case, which can happen at any point in the court process. If the charges are dropped, or the judge dismisses the case, you’ll be free to go. However, prosecuting attorneys take domestic disputes seriously—and won’t make it easy to dismiss these cases outright.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have to wait:

  • At least six hours. Massachusetts has a preferred arrest response for police officers who respond to domestic assault and battery calls. If the police arrest you on domestic violence charges, you will be held in custody for a minimum of six hours. The prosecutor will also file an official allegation of domestic abuse under your name in the Commonwealth’s criminal database.
  • Up to 60 days after arraignment. Your first court date will be your arraignment, where you will be formally charged with one or more offenses. It doesn’t matter if the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges since charges are brought by the Commonwealth rather than the alleged victim. If you have been accused of a misdemeanor offense that was not observed by the police and there was no probable cause, your case could be dismissed. If you are charged, you could return home on bail until your trial date, but you will likely face strict conditions of release (including no-contact orders, curfew, and orders to abstain from drugs and alcohol). Once you have been arraigned, your case can be continued for up to 60 days while you wait for a pretrial hearing.
  • Four months. If the prosecution requests a dangerousness hearing, you will have to convince a judge that you would not pose a danger to the alleged victim or the community while you are out on bail. If the judge sides with the prosecutor, you may be denied bail and forced to wait in jail for 120 days or until the trial date. There can be several consequences to being locked out of your life while awaiting trial, including losing your job, apartment, business, and close relationships. It’s vital to have an experienced domestic violence defense attorney present evidence to convince a judge to let you out on bail.
  • While the case is pending. You may have to make many separate court appearances and even schedule a trial date before your case is successfully dismissed. One of these is a pretrial hearing, which could take place in either district court or superior court. After your arraignment, your attorney and the prosecuting attorney will exchange requests for evidence and make plea negotiations based on the strength of the other’s case. At the pretrial hearing, both sides will summarize their position to the court, address any disputed claims, and file motions to dismiss the case or suppress evidence. Once all evidence is presented, the case will either end in a plea deal or dismissal or proceed to trial.
  • Through several stages of a criminal trial. Domestic assault and battery cases can take longer to work through the court system than other cases. District court cases may be decided by a pool of six jurors in a jury trial or a judge in a bench trial. In superior court, you have the right to choose between a jury trial or bench trial; however, these jury trials involve 12 jurors who must unanimously decide whether you’re guilty or not guilty.
  • Over two years. If you are convicted of domestic assault and battery, you may be ordered to spend two and a half years in jail. You could also face a term of probation upon your release, including spending up to 40 weeks in a certified batterer’s program.

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Early Intervention Can Resolve Your Case as Soon as Possible

At Nate Amendola Defense, our criminal defense legal team has helped numerous clients overcome dangerous accusations of domestic assault. We work to preserve your freedom and reputation and safeguard you from the worst consequences of a conviction. Contact us today to set up a confidential consultation and have us get started on building your best defense.

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