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The length of time that an OUI conviction remains on your record varies from state to state, and based on the circumstances of your case. MA has some of the strictest laws against driving while drunk or drugged in the entire nation. In fact, in most cases, that drunk driving conviction will remain on your record for the rest of your life.

That being said, in MA, you can request to have your OUI removed from public record after 10 years. This is most common for first-time offenders. If, however, you’ve been convicted of multiple OUIs, your request for removing those convictions is significantly less likely to be granted. And even if your OUI is removed from public view, the conviction will remain on your actual record for a lifetime.

What About Minors?

If you received your OUI conviction under the age of 18, does it remain on your criminal record for life? Well, as with most legal issues involving minors, it depends. You can certainly request to have your conviction expunged after you turn 18, but there is no guarantee that your request will be granted. A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with OUI or a related offense.

Second and Subsequent Offenses

As stated earlier, you can request to have a first-offense OUI conviction removed from public record after the passing of 10 years. You have a lesser chance of having a second or subsequent offense removed, and even if you are successful in your attempt, the second offense will always be a second offense, even if removed from public record. This means, essentially, that any punishment and financial penalty will be based on second-offense standards.

Why Request to Have My OUI Expunged?

OUI charges can come back to haunt you for years into the future. In addition to showing up on your criminal record, an OUI can appear on your driving record with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and even on your employment record. This is why it is so important to determine if you can get your OUI conviction expunged, and how to go about doing it. Though the conviction will remain on your record for a lifetime, removing it from public record means that it will be hidden from potential employers and landlords, as well as educational institutions, friends and family. A MA criminal defense lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with OUI or a related offense.

Do I Qualify to Have My OUI Expunged?

To qualify for an expungement, you must meet certain criteria. These include:

  • serving your entire sentence, including probation;
  • having not been sentenced to time in a state prison;
  • having not received any other criminal charges; and
  • waiting at least 10 years.

OUI offenses are serious business in MA. Even first-time offenders can face fines, jail time, and license suspension. The best advice we can give you? Don’t drink and drive. But if you’ve made a mistake, we can help you get back on track.

Altman & Altman, LLP—Top OUI Defense Attorneys in MA

If you have been charged with OUI or any criminal offense, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced, or dismissed entirely. If you are concerned about an OUI conviction on your criminal record, we can help you to determine your rights and options. We will thoroughly analyze your case before moving forward with a legal strategy and will remain by your side throughout the entire process. Don’t go through this difficult time alone, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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A hate crime is defined as a prejudice or bias-motivated crime that occurs when a victim is targeted because of his or her membership in a particular race or social group. Even if the victim does not actually belong to that group, the act can be classified as a hate crime if such “membership” was perceived. Perpetrators of hate crimes often target an individual based on gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, or religion. This is not, however, an exhaustive list.

Hate crimes and hate speech are distinctly different. Whereas hate speech is criminalized in and of itself, hate crimes involve a crime that exists even without the bias or prejudice but is elevated due to its prejudiced nature. For example, assault is a crime, but if a white Christian man assaults a black Muslim man, it may be classified as a hate crime.

According to a report released by the FBI on Tuesday, hate crimes are on the rise in MA. In fact, this type of criminal act increased by eight-percent from 2016 to 2017.

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In January 2017, the bodies of 32-year-old Jenna Pellegrini and 48-year-old Christine Sullivan were found under a backyard tarp at a home in Farmington, New Hampshire. Each woman had suffered multiple stab wounds. Among the evidence collected at the home was an Amazon Echo smart speaker (commonly referred to as Alexa), which the prosecution believes may have recorded crucial sounds during at least one of the murders.

Last week, a spokesperson for Amazon said that the retail giant will not release information “without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us.” But it looks like that information will soon be on its way. Amazon was ordered by Judge Steven Houran to release all recordings, as well as any relevant data, such as whether anyone’s phone was linked to the Echo device. A Boston criminal defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with a crime.

“The court directs Amazon.com to produce forthwith to the court any recordings made by an Echo smart speaker with Alexa voice command capability,” wrote Judge Houran, “from the period of January 27, 2017 to January 29, 2017, as well as any information identifying cellular devices that were paired to that smart speaker during that time period.”

Timothy Verrill was arrested and charged with the murders of Pellegrini and Sullivan. Verrill, an acquaintance of Sullivan’s boyfriend, pleaded not guilty to the double murder charges. According to surveillance video, he knew the home’s security code and had been there with both women prior to the night of the murder. Investigators believe that Alexa may have been activated by “wake words” or someone saying “Alexa” from its location in the kitchen, where they believe Sullivan’s murder was committed.

The involvement of tech in criminal cases is quickly becoming commonplace. In October, a Fitbit  contributed to a murder suspect’s arrest, and Amazon had to produce data from another Echo device in a 2015 murder investigation in Bentonville, Arkansas. Although Amazon argued its First Amendment rights in that case, the defendant consented to the release of data. A MA criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with a crime.

Privacy vs. Information

Amazon also attempted to avoid this most recent request, saying it was in violation of customer privacy, but Judge Houran disagreed. The argument of privacy vs. information isn’t expected to disappear any time soon. In fact, in a world where nothing is considered to be of value unless it’s recorded and/or shared, the battle has likely only just begun.

Smart devices, such as Alexa, Siri and Google’s Home assistant, are in millions of homes across the country. In addition to playing music and answering questions—such as what’s the weather today and who was the first female supreme court justice—smart devices record what people say. And that recording doesn’t just disappear into the ether. It is sent to a server, where it is…well, we can’t answer that for certain. What is happening to these recordings, and who is listening to our most intimate conversations?

I guess the better question is, what is your privacy worth to you?

Altman & Altman, LLP—Boston’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm

If you have been charged with any type of crime, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. Our experienced, knowledgeable defense attorneys will thoroughly review your case to determine the most appropriate legal strategy. We will work tirelessly to ensure that your rights are protected. It is our goal to keep you out of jail, and to keep your record clean. Don’t go through this difficult time alone. At Altman & Altman, LLP, we have an impressive track record of getting our clients’ charges reduced, or dismissed entirely. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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In early September, a gas pressure issue in Columbia Gas lines caused 131 Massachusetts homes to explode or catch fire. The tragedy resulted in one death and 23 injuries. Homes and businesses were destroyed, thousands had to be evacuated, and—more than a month later—many victims remain homeless, or without heat. Columbia Gas and its parent company Nisource Inc. have understandably faced heavy criticism from the victims and the general public. But the situation stands to become even more complicated.

A federal grand jury served Nisource with subpoenas on September 24, just two weeks after the explosions. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also conducting an investigation. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another.

Further information about the nature of the investigation is as yet unavailable, and a spokesman for the company declined to answer questions Thursday.

“We are cooperating with all investigations and inquiries into the Lawrence event, including the criminal matter. However, we can’t speak specifically to any of those inquiries,” said NiSource spokesman Ken Stammen.

But Why is it Criminal?

According to the NTSB, Columbia Gas workers, who were tasked with replacing old pipes in Lawrence, were given bad work orders by the company. The orders failed to acknowledge the existence of a pressure-sensing feedback line, which resulted in high-pressure gas being pumped into the system, and the subsequent explosions.

“We’re sharing information we think is of interest that investors need to know about,” said Ken Stammen, a Nisource spokesperson. “Beyond that, there are limitations around what we can say about investigations.”

Leonel Rondon, an 18-year-old Lawrence man was killed in the September 13 explosions and many more were injured.

“I think it’s appropriate and right to do,” said Dan Rivera, Lawrence Mayor, when asked about the criminal investigation. “A young man lost his life and the city was turned upside down.”

Nisource Linked to Three Previous Explosions

Considering Nisource’s history, such a deadly error is even more disturbing. The company is linked to three prior gas explosions.

  • In November 2012, a Columbia Gas of Massachusetts explosion destroyed the Scores strip club in Springfield, MA and injured 21. About a dozen nearby buildings were also damaged.
  • In December 2012, a gas pipeline operated by Columbia Gas Transmission exploded in Sissonville, West Virginia, destroying three homes and propelling a 20-foot section of pipe through the air.
  • In March 2015, an “improperly abandoned” Columbia Gas of Ohio service line exploded, causing $9 million in structural damage.
Many of Nation’s Oldest and Leakiest Pipes are in Boston

A recently-published USA TODAY report reveals that tens of thousands of miles of old pipelines need upgraded across the country. Many of these are in Boston and the surrounding suburbs, which have some of the nation’s oldest and leakiest pipes. This “silent danger” has caused a general sense of alarm among MA residents, but Nisource President Joseph Hamrock says that they are working hard to resolve the problem.

“This tragic event has been a humbling experience for all of us at Nisource and Columbia Gas,” said Hamrock. “We realized that much work lies ahead of us to finish our service restoration in Greater Lawrence, and regain the trust of our customers and the communities we serve.”

According to Nisource, approximately 8,500 gas meters had to be shut down for service following the explosions. About 700 of those belonged to area businesses. A MA injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Columbia Gas initially reported that the thousands of customers impacted would have gas by November 19, but they updated that date to December 16, last week.

Insurance Payments Will Cover Most of Nisource’s Expenses

Although the September tragedy has already cost Nisource about $462 million, most of those expenses will be “substantially recovered” through the utility company’s insurance policy, which has a limit of about $800 million. The $462 million accounts for approximately $415 million in personal injury and property damage expenses, and the remainder will be payments to utility companies that helped with the restoration project. In addition to the criminal investigation, Nisource will likely face civil suits from victims of the explosion.

Altman & Altman, LLP—Top Personal Injury Law Firm in MA

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 50 years, and we have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other associated costs. Don’t go through this difficult time alone, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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Assault and Battery are common crimes in Massachusetts, whether together or as stand-alone offenses. But most people don’t really understand the conduct behind each of these crimes. It is common for someone to refer to a certain act as an assault, when they really mean battery, and vice versa.

Assault and Battery Distinguished

Assault is an act that creates a fear of imminent, harmful, or offensive conduct. Battery is the crime that occurs when the harmful or offensive conduct is carried out. The key distinction between the two crimes is that for battery, there has to be a touching. If there is no touching, but the victim is in fear of a touching, that crime is an assault. For example, if a person attempts to punch another person, but misses, he/she may be charged with assault. If there is a touching (the punch lands), the charge will likely be battery.

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In Massachusetts, cocaine is among the most heavily trafficked drugs. It is a Class B illegal substance, along with many prescription opioids. In other words, it is a crime to possess, manufacture, or sell cocaine in the state of Massachusetts. Most cocaine-related offenses (whether the drug is in powder or rock form) are considered felonies, the most serious type of crime. Massachusetts laws impose severe penalties for cocaine offenses, due in part to the threat of violence that often arises in the drug’s trade. Federal law also prohibits the possession, manufacture and sale of cocaine and other illegal drugs.

Possible Penalties

If convicted of a cocaine related offense, you may face the following penalties:

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In MA, a second offense for operating under the influence (OUI), also known as drunk driving, has serious consequences that can impact you and your family. As explained below, these penalties include substantial fines, loss of license, and even time behind bars.

If you have been charged with a second offense OUI, you may be feeling scared and alone. But you are not alone. OUI is the most common charge in Massachusetts courts, and we are here to help. The good news? As long as no one was injured as a result of the OUI, a second offense will be charged as a misdemeanor. If, however, your offense involved an injury accident, you may be facing felony charges. The information below may help you make the best decision for you and your family.

What Counts as a First OUI?
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Bill Cosby has been sentenced to three-to-10 years imprisonment for the sexual assault of at least one woman, although dozens more have come forward. This week, he began his time behind bars in a single cell at SCI Phoenix, a newly-opened state prison that can hold nearly 4,000 inmates, but he is expected to join the general population in time.

“We are taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure Mr. Cosby’s safety and general welfare in our institution,” said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel.

Last week, a jury concluded that the 81-year-old comedian drugged and molested a woman in 2004. Cosby’s family has said that his conviction on three counts of sexual assault is unjust, and has called the trial the “most sexist and racist” trial in the history of our nation.

But Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill didn’t see it that way.

“No one is above the law. And no one should be treated disproportionately because of who they are, where they live, or even their wealth, celebrity or philanthropy,” said O’Neill, in response to his above-average sentencing. A Boston sexual assault attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been harmed by another.

More than 60 Women Have Come Forward

In April, Cosby was convicted of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, Temple University’s women’s basketball administrator. The conviction came after an onslaught of accusations from other women—more than 60 in total—who claim Cosby assaulted them. The accusations span a period of five decades. So far, Constand’s case is the only one to go to trial.

Advocates for women’s rights see Cosby’s tough prison sentence as a pivotal #MeToo moment.

“Bill Cosby seeing the inside of a prison cell sends a strong message that predators — no matter who they are, from Hollywood to Wall Street to the Supreme Court — can no longer be protected at the expense of victims,” said the National Organization for Women of New York’s president, Sonia Ossorio.

In addition to the potential for up to 10 years behind bars, Cosby must serve a minimum of three years before he is eligible for parole. In addition, Cosby was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine, and his designation as a “sexually violent predator” means he will have to get regular counseling even after his release, and schools and other such institutions will need to be notified of his whereabouts if he moves to the area.

Cosby Drugged His Victims

According to Constand’s testimony, Cosby gave her “herbal” pills to ease stress, but the pills actually contained a strong drug that made her completely unable to move as he began to penetrate her with his fingers. After Constand was awarded a $3.4 million settlement, Cosby’s attorneys accused his victim of being a “con artist” who just wanted a big payday.

Constand reported the assault to police about a year after the alleged incident occurred. But the district attorney refused to take the case. A decade later, another district attorney reopened the file and charged “America’s favorite dad” with sexual assault. A MA sexual assault lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been sexually assaulted or abused.

In this most recent trial, five other women came forward as part of the prosecution’s effort to portray the television star as a serial predator. Cosby admitted to giving quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.

Altman & Altman, LLP—Boston’s Top Sexual Assault Law Firm

If you have been sexually assaulted, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of victims of sexual assault for decades. Our experienced, compassionate attorneys understand that these cases are highly sensitive. We will ensure that you fully understand your rights and options before moving forward with a legal strategy, and we’ll be by your side throughout the entire process. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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New Sealing and Expungement in Massachusetts – Effective October 1st, 2018.

The sealing and expungement laws in Massachusetts have been revamped and will be taking effect on October 1, 2018.  While the procedures, time lines and nuances have yet to be worked out, there is a lot that is clear and known.

Prior to October 1, 2018, in order to have a felony conviction sealed, one would have to wait 10 years from his guilty finding and/or from when he was released from prison or jail.  The new law will change that waiting period from 10 years to 7 years.

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In an effort to protect individuals from abusive situations, MA courts have been given the authority to issue restraining orders when a reasonable likelihood of harm is suspected. In many ways, this is a very good thing. No woman, or man, should be subjected to abuse. However, such broad authority to grant restraining orders also results in excessive issuance; some even use the system as a means of revenge.

A restraining order, or protection order (officially known as a 209A), is issued through civil court, not criminal. As such, a “preponderance of evidence” is all that is needed to meet the burden of proof for obtaining the 209A. In criminal cases, the burden of proof must be “beyond any reasonable doubt,” which is a far higher standard than a preponderance of evidence. If the judge believes that the evidence presented points to a likelihood that the alleged abuser will harm the petitioner, he/she will typically initiate the process.

What is a 10-Day Hearing?

The next step in the process is usually the 10-day hearing, at which point the defendant will have an opportunity to tell his/her side of the story. During the 10-day window between the petition and the hearing, the defendant will receive notice of the upcoming hearing. A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if there is a restraining order against you.

Temporary Order of Protection

The accused has a right to defend himself/herself at the 10-day hearing, but in cases involving imminent risk of abuse, the 10-day window could put the alleged victim in danger. A temporary (or emergency) order may be issued if the judge believes the petitioner is at risk of immediate harm. Emergency orders are actually relatively easy to obtain, as long as the alleged victim can prove a relationship with the alleged abuser. A private hearing will be held at which the petitioner states his/her reasons for requesting the temporary order. Because the person accused of abuse is not present at this private hearing, he/she won’t know about the restraining order until it’s served on them.

Do Not Go to the 10-Day Hearing Alone

Whether or not a temporary order was issued against you, it is a mistake to appear in defense of yourself at the 10-day hearing. An experienced MA defense lawyer can present evidence to the judge, perform cross-examinations, and even request that the order be dropped altogether. Not showing up for your 10-day hearing is the worst possible mistake you can make. By doing this, you will forfeit your right to defend your case, and the order will remain in effect for at least one year. If, however, you appear in court with skilled legal counsel and can prove to the judge that you do not present a reasonable threat to the alleged victim, the order will likely be vacated.

What Restrictions Might a 209A Include?

The specific orders of protection within a 209A vary based on the particulars of each case. They may include:

  • an order to leave the residence immediately;
  • an order to stop all forms of abuse;
  • an order to stay a certain distance from the alleged victim at all times;
  • an order to stay away from the children.

In addition to the possible orders of protection above, all 209As carry a mandatory order to surrender firearms.

Altman & Altman, LLP—Boston’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm

If you have been served with a 209A, the legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. Our experienced, knowledgeable lawyers have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges (and protective orders) dropped. Don’t go through this difficult time alone, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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