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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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. How does this compare to North Carolina’s “prayer for judgment continued”?

    • How does a prayer for judgment continue work?

  2. pretrial probation as a condition of bail, that is my question. What you are discussing here is different pretrial probation, one that is destined as a resolution to the case. Pretrial probation, as a condition of bail, is far more ominous and capricious. certain judges in MA abuse this statute, in my opinion. Especially in OUI cases that the D.A. and his judge know they are ultimately going to lose. A defendant that has exercised his 5th amendment right to remain silent during an OUI arrest is first punished by the RMV with an immediate drivers license suspension for breath test refusal ( 6 months minimum for first offense charge and an outrageous 3 years for a second offense charge). secondly, the arraigning judge then can place high bail and impose conditions of pretrial probation up to and including 24/7 SCRAM monitoring.


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