Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Protecting Your Rights
After spending years prosecuting criminal cases, Boston criminal defense attorney George N. Papachristos knows the serious consequences that may result from even minor criminal charges. Defendants often face jail or prison time, fines, and court costs, but there are a number of other possible consequences. Defendants are often aware that they may lose driving privileges when convicted or even charged with a vehicular offense, but many do not realize that drug cases may also result in a driver’s license suspension. Jail time, court appearances, and license suspension can all lead to missed appointments, missed work, and possible loss of employment.
We know how important your case is to you, and it is important to us, too. If you are facing criminal charges, we will work tirelessly to protect your rights and defend your case. Mr. Papachristos has several years of experience in investigating, negotiating, and trying criminal cases and he knows the strategies employed by prosecutors and police officers.
In 2005, the Massachusetts legislature passed further revisions to the Massachusetts O.U.I. Statue, also known as “Melanie’s Law,” which sets out serious penalties in cases involving operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (“OUI”). Melanie’s law created new crimes and increased penalties for several crimes that were already in existence. One of the new crimes enacted is the charge of operating on a suspended license for an OUI offense, while operating under the influence. This offense carries a mandatory minimum one-year jail sentence that cannot be served concurrently with any other sentence or penalty. These revisions also included the enactment of a new crime involving operating under the influence with a child under fourteen years of age in the vehicle, which carries enhanced penalties. It also added the crime of Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle, which involves manslaughter while operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in jail and a potential fine of up to $25,000.
The law also requires the installation of an ignition interlock device for drivers with two or more OUI offenses upon reinstatement of the license or receipt of a hardship license. Failure to comply with the interlock device requirements could lead to a license suspension of 10 years to life.
The harsh penalties involved in OUI-related offenses means defendants facing such charges need to seek the representation of a skilled defense attorney immediately. Attorney Papachristos has vast experience in the investigation and prosecution of vehicular related offenses due to his prior work as a prosecutor in a specialized unit that responded to motor vehicle fatalities or serious crashes. That experience has given him the invaluable tools to know what legal requirements need to be met for charges to survive, and also knowing what investigative aspects to a case were not followed.
Although Massachusetts has decriminalized the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, the possession of other drugs and the possession of greater quantities of marijuana are still crimes carrying stiff penalties, depending on the type and amount of drugs involved. In addition to potential incarceration and/or financial penalties, a drug case defendant also faces driver’s license suspension. Anyone who receives a drug conviction is subject to a driver’s license suspension for a period of one to five years, depending on the specific charges.
In a drug possession case, the prosecution generally must prove that the defendant knowingly or intentionally possessed a controlled substance. MGL c. 94C s. 34. The possession element is often at issue, particularly when the drugs are found in a common area that is not in the exclusive control of the defendant.
The standard for heroin is different, however. A person who is knowingly present at a place where heroin is kept or deposited or knowingly in the presence of a person in possession of heroin commits a crime punishable by up to a year imprisonment and/or a fine up to $1,000. MGL c. 94C s. 35. In such cases, the defense may raise the issues of whether the defendant knew about the heroin or whether the defendant was actually present. In any drug case, it may be possible to challenge the prosecution’s claims regarding the existence or amount of drugs involved.
Another common defense strategy is challenging the investigation. Although people are guaranteed certain rights and protections under the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, there are situations where those rights are infringed upon. Depending on the facts of the case, the legality of the initial stop or contact by police, the search, a detention, or an interrogation may be challenged.
As a former prosecutor assigned to a specialized unit involving drug investigations and prosecutions Mr. Papachristos is able to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. His knowledge of drug laws and his familiarity with police investigations give him an advantage in challenging the prosecution’s case.
Fighting for You
Boston criminal defense lawyer George N. Papachristos has worked criminal cases from the other side. He has been involved in criminal investigations, prosecutions, and negotiations. If you are facing criminal charges in the Quincy, Dedham, or Boston areas, let him put the knowledge and skills he gained as a prosecutor to work for you. Please call (704) 897-7533 or contact us online, and let the Law Office of George N. Papachristos fight for you.