Worcester Criminal and Real Estate Law Blog

Grounds for appealing a criminal conviction

When a Massachusetts resident is convicted of a crime, they may think they have no more legal options to avail, but this is not the case. It may be possible for a convicted person to appeal the court's rulings and findings, but the appeal must be based on errors made at the lower court's level. These errors must not be harmless-it has to be demonstrated in court that the error is substantial. So what is a substantial error-one that affects the convicted person's rights?

A plain error is one that affects the defendant's substantial rights, even though it was not brought to the court's attention during the original trial. A common example of a plain error is a miscalculation of the sentence being awarded after a conviction and the appellate court can send the case back down for re-sentencing.

Fraud allegations land mom, former teacher in jail

A woman who used to work in Worcester as a teacher has been accused of bilking MassHealth, the state's vehicle for distributing Medicaid benefits, of $2.7 million through a healthcare company she founded.

According to the criminal indictments against the woman, she instructed employees at her company to bill government insurance for home health services that were never signed off on by a doctor. She even allegedly told employees to sign on a physician's behalf. The indictments also described some unusual banking practices on the part of the woman, including some transfers of money to family members and other associates, including those who live overseas.

Field sobriety tests do not measure OUI of marijuana

Police officers conduct field sobriety tests on suspected drunk drivers in order for officers to get a sense of the driver's impairment from alcohol. The officer takes notes on such indicators as whether the driver's speech is slurred, or whether the driver is able to walk in a straight line, and then records an opinion as to whether the driver appears impaired. This is considered good evidence to show drunkenness, but is it an accurate measure of marijuana impairment? This was the question in front of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Council and the court has concluded that it cannot.

According to the court, officers cannot testify as to whether someone passed or failed a sobriety test, in addition to not offering an opinion on whether someone was too high to drive. Officers can only give their observations about how someone has responded to the test. These officers can testify in court as non-expert witnesses.

Facing a drug charge? Take charge in the legal system

According to state and federal laws, willfully possessing drugs is a crime. These laws also make it illegal to possess any precursor chemicals that are used to cultivate and manufacture drugs, along with particular accessories associated with drug use.

Facing a drug charge can understandably be intimidating, as you may worry about how this may ruin your reputation now and your freedom tomorrow if convicted. However, you have the right to fight such a charge in Massachusetts.

Who maintains real estate while on the market?

The unfortunate reality of the real estate market these days is that it takes time to sell a house. That's not to say its impossible-it just means that Massachusetts sellers need to be prepared for the house to remain on the market for a little bit of time before it is bought. And, this means keeping the house show ready almost all the time for potential buyers to look at. When the sellers have moved out of the house, whose responsibility does it become to keep the house maintained?

The simple answer is that basic upkeep is the seller's responsibility, as they still own the house. That means the seller is responsible for how it looks, but what about the real estate agent who should also have a vested interest in getting the house to sell on time? It's important never to make an assumption about who has what responsibility-having the conversation up front and including it in the agreement will remove any doubts later on. The real estate agent may also not want to take on the task of ongoing maintenance-if they take on the responsibility and something goes badly, then they become accountable.

What are the consequences of a conviction?

Much has been said on this blog about the long-term consequences of a criminal conviction. Though one's mind jumps to incarceration as the result of a conviction, that is only one of the results and even that eventually comes to an end, depending on the type of crime one has been convicted of. But, once a Massachusetts resident becomes entangled with the criminal justice system, they find themselves getting pulled into it again and again. However, there are other, equally distressing consequences of this entanglement.

First of all, employed people may find themselves without a job. While an employer is not allowed to terminate someone suddenly because of their race or religion, they are allowed to fire someone because they were arrested and missed work, because they went to court due to the charges and even if someone was questioned in relation to a crime. This can leave someone without a job and a steady source of income, even if they were not convicted or even charged. If the conviction is related to drunk driving charges, then even if someone has a job, they may not be able to get to their job because they no longer have a license.

Helping tenants take control in real estate matters

As mentioned on last week's post, property managers are often engaged to handle investment estate and one of their tasks including the relationship between landlord and tenant. But not everyone has the luxury of engaging a property manager and those who do not, often end up having to deal with a landlord or tenant on their own.

The law relating to the landlord-tenant relationship in Massachusetts is often more favorable for tenants, leaving landlords in tricky situations if they are dealing with a problematic tenant. Landlords have to somehow balance their own interests with those of other renters and their own buildings. This is never an easy balance to achieve, especially when a tenant is engaged in suspicious activities but is refusing to move out of the residence.

The rights and obligations of property managers

Setting Massachusetts rents and collecting rent with respect to a real estate investment sounds simple enough. But, in reality, it is a time-consuming, detail oriented job that many cannot do as a part-time project. This is why people with investments in real estate consider hiring a property manager.

As the name suggests, a property manager is a third party that manages the daily operations of a real estate transaction. Depending on the agreement between the parties, a property manager or property management can be responsible for a number of items, from setting and collecting rent to filing taxes for the property.

Woman accused of injuring and fleeing the scene of DUI accident

Sometimes, people follow one bad decision with another, not realizing that their actions have consequences that could follow them for the rest of their life. When this happens, it is important to remember that someone suspected of committing a crime has the right to legal counsel who could help him or her get his or her version of the events out in the public.

A woman facing serious drunk driving charges resulting from a drunk driving accident in Worcester has allegedly made a number of bad decisions that resulted in her arrest. According to the police, she struck a 45-year-old man while he was walking and attempting to cross north.

Is not having your license causing unnecessary hardship?

You may know from your first OUI conviction that you will have to surrender your driver's license for a specified amount of time as part of the resolution of your case. Now that you have two or more OUI convictions, the length of that suspension may make your life much more difficult that it should.

It may be possible to get a hardship license that allows you to drive under certain conditions. The Massachusetts Registry of Vehicles oversees the process. Whether you receive a hardship license depends on a variety of factors. You may be able to increase your odds by understanding the requirements and the best documentation to illustrate your need.

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