What can happen if I skip jury duty?


There are very few things that this great country requires a citizen to do. All males must sign up for the draft at the age of 18, people must pay taxes if they are working and everyone is required to serve on a jury. There are very few exceptions to the rule. People who are above a certain age are able to stop going to jury duty, but for the most part you are required to go. It doesn’t matter what you do for work because even judges are required to go to jury duty. As most of people already know, jurors are selected randomly through a computer system. Selected jurors get notified by mail and can be sent to any court that is within the county of the person’s residence.

If for some reason you can’t serve on the day that is given, you usually defer to another date. If you don’t attend jury duty, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. A person who doesn’t attend jury duty can be fined up to $2,000. When a person is charged the court will usually send a summons to the person’s last known address. If the person doesn’t show up on the date that they were summoned, then the judge could put a warrant for the person’s arrest. Through this process, a person that has never been in trouble with the law before, can be arrested and brought to court.

What usually happens with these types of cases is that the court will have the person sign up for jury duty and hold over the criminal case. After the person performs jury duty, the charges are usually dismissed. However, the best thing to do is to make sure that you go to jury duty or get the court to allow you move the date. The last thing you want to happen is to be arrested for not going to jury duty.

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Attorney-Jason-Chan/101494423854?ref=sgm Massachusetts General Laws regarding jury duty http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/gl-234-toc.htm

Mass Juror Service Website https://juryduty.majury.gov/ojcweb/public/start.aspx

Boston Globe Article about courts cracking down on people who skipped jury duty http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/10/05/massachusetts_cracks_down_on_jury_duty_shirkers/?page=1

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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What is Pre-Trial Probation?


Pre-trial probation is usually a very good resolution to a criminal case. Essentially, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 276, section 87 allows for the court to place someone on probation for a certain period of time. Usually, if the person is able to complete probation and abide by all the terms, the case is dismissed pre-arraignment. This means that the case should not even show up on a person’s board of probation record.

However, if a person is unable to abide by the terms of probation, the case is placed back on the trial list. Essentially, this means that the case is going to be prosecutor against the offender.

Pre-trial probation is a good way to resolve a case because the person does not need to admit to committing the offense. The person is never pleads guilty or admit to anything about the charges. Pre-trial probation is very different than a continuance without a finding. With a continuance with a finding the person still needs to admit to something on the record.

The court cannot place anyone on pre-trial probation without the Commonwealth, usually represented by an assistant district attorney’s consent. Commonwealth v. Cheney, a 2003 case essentially states that the judge cannot place someone on supervised probation over the Commonwealth’s objection.

For the most part, pre-trial probation is usually a good resolution to a criminal charge. However, depending on the charge it may be a difficult resolution to obtain.

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For more information:

Mass General Laws http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/276-87.htm

District Attorney’s Association resources regarding pre-trial probation http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=dmdasubtopic&L=5&L0=Home&L1=Court+Decisions&L2=Court+Decisions+by+Topic&L3=Sentencing&L4=Pretrial+Probation&sid=Dmdaa

Paxton woman charged with sex for a fee placed on pre-trial probation http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-160496680.html

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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Self Defense, in a bar fight or fighting for your life in a dark alley, when can you claim self defense.


When can you claim self defense? The answer is it depends.  There is no real answer to the question because there are many factors that go into the determination of self defense.  If you believe you may have a self defense claim, you should talk to your lawyer about your case.  Self defense is an affirmative defense and could have negative impact on your case.  So that being said let’s look at two hypothetical scenarios.  Please don’t rely on this as advice, it is merely two scenarios to highlight some aspects of self defense. 

 Under Massachusetts law, one can defend him or herself with no more force than necessary and has a duty to retreat if it is safe to do so.  Scenario number one, you are in a bar and someone is talking to your girlfriend, you get pushed, and you punch them in the face.  Scenario two, you are in a dark alley, someone pulls out a knife and you punch them in the face. 

 First, in the two scenarios let’s consider if the amount of force is reasonable.  In the bar scenario a push doesn’t seem like a lot of force at all and a punch may be considered unreasonable.  In the second scenario, a punch in response to a knife seems much more reasonable.  Also, one must keep in mind that it is much more difficult if not impossible to claim self defense if you are the first aggressor.   The first aggressor usually means the person who started the physical contact.  In short, if you hit the other person first, it makes it very hard to claim self defense. 

Second, let’s look at duty to retreat.  Under Massachusetts law, a person has the duty to retreat if it is safe to do so prior to using physical force.  In the bar scenario it seems more likely that the person failed to satisfy his duty to retreat from the fight.  It seems like the bar fight could have been avoided if the person walked away.  In the dark alley scenario it seems like the person fulfilled his duty to retreat because it is much more difficult to run away from a person with a knife.  Also, seeing that you are in a dark alley where are you going to run to?  Besides, running may not be safe because it may end up with a knife in your back. 

Some other things to consider are that a person has no duty to retreat if they are in their own home.   That makes sense because the court believes that you should feel safe in your own home and shouldn’t be required to retreat from an intruder.  Deadly force can only be used when faced with the deadly force.  Meaning you can’t shoot and kill someone, even in your own house if that person isn’t using deadly force against you.  Deadly force can also be used to defend oneself against being raped. 

Finally, the thing to remember is that if you are charged with a crime, it is up to the jury to find self defense.  If you raise self defense as an issue, the burden is on the prosecution to prove that it wasn’t self defense.  However, self defense has its drawbacks and could hurt your chances in winning a case if used incorrectly.  In the end, this post is not a license to get into fights and then claim self defense.  Instead, this post is a warning to those who get into fights because claiming self defense may not help your case. 

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For more information:

MA Laws about self defense: http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/subject/about/criminal.html

Pepper Spray for self defense: http://www.pepper-spray-store.com/relatedinfo/massachusetts-laws.shtml

http://www.massachusettscriminaldefenseattorneyblog.com/self-defense/

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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Holiday bad decision turns into domestic assault and battery charge


 Holidays are supposed to bring out the best in people, but unfortunately many times it brings out the worse.  It may be the tight quarters with family members that bring out the emotional exchanges, or simply the excess of alcohol.  Either way, don’t call the police unless it is necessary.

So I see this type of situation occur a good amount.  It happens quite often, but especially around the holidays people usually men are charged with assault and battery from a domestic incident.  The alleged victim in the case say that they didn’t want the defendant arrested and don’t want the person to go to jail.  The victim also states that the situation was exaggerated because the person wanted the police to take their side.

So here are a few things to consider before calling the police for no good reason.  Police tend to err on the side of caution in domestic situations.  Police can’t decipher an argument that is just a normal family argument that will boil over from one that may lead to some violent end.  As a result, police tend to make arrests to err on the side of caution.  That means if you tell the police that some physical contact has been made, the defendant will usually be arrested.

Too many people tend to call the police in attempt to get a person out of their house.  The likely end is that the police will get the person out of the house, but will also arrest and charge the person.  Also, the police arrest is not the end of the matter, but simply the beginning of a long legal process.  There is likely to be many court dates and people that you don’t want in your life.

Conversely, if you feel like you are in danger of your own safety then you shouldn’t hesitate in calling the police.  This post isn’t an attempt to convince people from calling the police for legitimate reasons, but to warn people from calling for frivolous ones. Holidays are supposed to be times of joy and celebration, but if you can’t get along perhaps you should avoid one another.  In the end, only call the police if you really need their help.

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For more information about domestic violence:

Massachusetts Law about Domestic Violence: http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/subject/about/domviolence.html

Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence: http://www.atask.org/site/

Healing Abuse Working for Change: http://www.helpabusedwomen.org/

Network for Women’s Lives: http://www.networkforwomenslives.org/

Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project: http://www.gmdvp.org/

Casa Myrna Vazquez: http://www.casamyrna.org/

Jane Doe’s Inc.: http://www.janedoe.org/

On the rise: http://www.ontherise.org/

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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