Picture of Gun taken by Ian Britton: http://www.ianbritton.co.uk/
Lately there has been a lot of talk about the Bristol District Attorney Samuel Sutter requesting so called dangerousness hearings on every gun felony case. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-1 to strike down the Bristol District Attorney’s policy. (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090504/NEWS/90504003)
Well what is a dangerousness hearing? When a person is arrested for a serious crime he or she is usually brought into court the next day. At this first appearance, a person will be arraigned, and a bail hearing will be held. After the bail hearing, the judge can release a person on no bail, release a person on bail, or hold the person without bail. The courts are reluctant to hold a person without bail except for extreme circumstances. There are certain situations in which the court will hold a person without bail; the most common example is when a person is charged with murder.
The prosecution must move for a dangerousness hearing at a person’s first appearance in court, which is usually the arraignment. If a dangerousness hearing is allowed by the judge, a person can be held without bail for up to 3 days to give the prosecution enough time to get ready for a hearing. The defendant’s lawyer may also ask for a 7 day extension to prepare for the hearing which the defendant would also be held without bail. If the court finds that a person is a danger after the hearing, a person can be held in custody for 60 days without bail. If a person is found not to be a danger, then he may be released on bail.
That is a quick summary of what a dangerousness hearing is, but you should get more information if you are planning to represent a person at these hearings. If you are a person about to face a dangerousness hearing, find a good attorney right away. Failing to get a good attorney could mean 60 solid days in jail.
The Boston Globe reports on Governor’s Patrick’s response to the SJC ruling
The Sun Chronicle Report
New Bedford 360 Report
Governor’s Patrick’s response to the SJC ruling
For more information: visit www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902