One of the most common questions we get from people who’ve been arrested or charged with a crime is Am I Going to Go to Jail?
That is a completely understandable concern. Most people have no idea how the criminal justice system works, and what a typical penalty is if you are convicted of a crime.
My first job when I speak to someone is to calm them down because almost everyone is worried about something that will never happen. I recently had a text conversation where I was happy to get this response:
You honestly helped relieve my stress I’ve never had something like this before and was freaking out about the jail time.
And the statutes for most misdemeanor offenses does read “penalties up to 1 year in jail”. That can be terrifying to read and contemplate.
For most people reading this, the answer is no. You aren’t likely to go to jail. The honest truth is, for someone charged with a 1st offense misdemeanor, being sentenced to jail time in extremely unlikely.
It almost never happens.
If you are one of our typical clients, who has never been in trouble with the law before, and faced with a misdemeanor offense like assault, drug possession, OUI, leaving the scene or an accident, or shoplifting, there is almost no chance you will be sentenced to jail time if you are convicted of the charge.
Theses penalties are there for judges to use in extremely serious or rare cases. Barring some extremely unusual facts or situations, you should not have to worry about this.
When you tell me about the facts of your case in a consultation, I can tell you what a typical penalty is for a charge and circumstances like that. For misdemeanors, you are much more typically looking at probation. First offense guilty pleas also often include court imposed counseling for anger management, or drug and alcohol abuse treatment as appropriate.
What criminal charges have mandatory jail time?
Some violations, such as Operating on a Suspended License after an OUI have a mandatory sentence of 60 days in jail if you are found guilty of that offense.
Not all felonies have mandatory jail sentences. But some do, such as a 3rd offense (or greater) OUI. Or charges with enhancement factors, such as intent to distribute drugs from within a school zone (2 year mandatory minimum)
More serious felonies, especially violent ones, or cases where someone is seriously injured as a result of a crime have a much higher likelihood of these serious consequences.
But just because you are accused of a crime with mandatory jail time does not mean that you will be convicted of that charge. And it doesn’t mean that the charge can’t be reduced to an offense without that risk.
Am I Going to Jail for Violating Probation?
If you have a previous offense or violate the terms of your probation, you could. It is more of a possibility that a judge could sentence you to jail time.
Find Out What You Are Facing in A Free Consultation
I represent clients accused of all kinds of criminal offenses in Massachusetts courts. And only a small percentage are ever at risk of spending time in jail.
Please call me and I’ll give you the real deal. I’ll tell you exactly how serious your situation is, and what I can do for you to beat the charges. Or I will fight to work out the best deal possible that avoids jail time.
Call attorney Russell Matson at (781) 817-6332 for a free and confidential consultation on any Massachusetts criminal charge or arrest.