Angiulo: Pretrial Probation—A Way to Avoid a Criminal Record
Monday, March 03, 2014
https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIV/TitleII/Chapter276/Section87 " target="_blank">Section 87 of Chapter 276 of the Massachusetts General Laws, “Placing certain persons in care of probation officer,” offers a unique way for the accused to face probation without the hang-ups that come from convictions. As the title of the statute suggests, a disposition of this nature offers supervision requirements and often other obligations in exchange for a lack of record at the end.
In order for this to be an option, the resolution must be agreed to by the prosecution. Often times District Attorneys offices will use this as a way to resolve low level, non-violent, crimes, like minor in possession of alcohol. When you take a look at that statute, not only does a conviction subject people to fines, but it also requires notice to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and a 90 day loss of license. As you can imagine this type of indiscretion can make that first job after college that much harder to get.
Given the tendency of college kids to get drunk and loud without hurting anybody, pretrial diversion programs using MGL c. 276, sec. 87 can be very helpful to both the community and the student. The community is the unlikely beneficiary for a number of reasons. For example, while on pretrial probation a defendant will be required to meet certain requirements in order to earn their dismissal. Those requirements can include community service obligations, educational courses and even random drug and alcohol screens. In addition, the energy and expense spent on these cases is reduced. Most importantly, while on pretrial probation a person must stay out of trouble or their cases can be returned to the trial list and everything that they had been offered will be off the table.
In addition to avoiding trouble with their driver's license a defendant getting this type of disposition will enjoy not being subject to some other collateral consequences that go with convictions and admissions. If you know anyone who wants to work for the state as a teacher or with any population considered vulnerable, such as the elderly, they should be very conscious of what is on their criminal record. To be sure there are some people who say that if you do wrong, you should take the consequences that go with it. The counter-argument to this point goes: why not give people a chance to prove they can learn from their mistakes by successfully completing probation and let them have a future?
Whether or not a particular charge or defendant is eligible for pretrial probation is very fact dependent. As a result it's practically impossible to say who can get what and when as a rule. What is easy to say is that in the right set of circumstances resolving a case without a plea or admission and with probation pursuant to MGL c. 276 sec. 87 is a win-win.
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