By Dhar Law, LLP
Massachusetts data from Suffolk County has been used in a major report by a national nonpartisan research institute that shows that harsh punishments for non-violent misdemeanors raises the odds of re-arrest. The results from the study came from the period between 2004 and 2018. In 2019, the Reentry Resource Center called Massachusetts a “leader” in compassionate reentry programming after the state’s improved mentoring and support was shown to result in the largest drop in recidivism in the states surveyed by the National Reentry Resource Center and The Council of State Governments Justice Center. Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins went a step further by issuing a directive not to file on certain non-violent misdemeanors.
The findings from the study published in 2021 are significant. They show how young people accused of a crime can easily have their lives derailed. Everything from the lengthy time it takes to be prosecuted (which averaged 185 days according to the report), and the attitude of law enforcement and deputy DAs towards people who have already been through the system, can disrupt the life of an individual charged with a non-violent misdemeanor.
First-time offenders are particularly impacted by their exposure to the criminal justice system in Massachusetts. The report showed that non-prosecution strongly affected the likelihood of subsequent arrests for first-time offenders. People who were not prosecuted for nonviolent misdemeanors including drug possession, shoplifting, motor vehicle offenses, and similar crimes were 58 percent less likely to commit another crime in the following two years, than those who were prosecuted for the same crime. Non-prosecution was also a significant factor (64 percent) in the rate at which those who were accused of committing nonviolent misdemeanors were charged with subsequent violent offenses within two years, compared to people who were prosecuted.
The results from this report are striking. There is no reason for a young person or first-time offender in Massachusetts to have their lives derailed by entering the punitive criminal justice system for low-level, non-violent misdemeanors.
Some may believe that their only recourse is to fight the system. In reality, however, Massachusetts offers many options for rehabilitation and more. If you believe you have been falsely accused of a misdemeanor, there is no reason for it to remain on your record and affect your future career prospects. Whether you need a criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with a misdemeanor, or whether you believe your case should not go through to prosecution, there are ways to avoid outdated fines and punishments for non-violent misdemeanors.
If you have been accused of a non-violent misdemeanor, it’s best to contact a compassionate criminal defense attorney who can advise you on your options. At Dhar Law LLP we care about you, your future, and the challenges you face as a first-time offender, so please don’t hesitate to contact us to get our experienced Boston criminal defense lawyers on your side now at 617 880-6155.
For more information about the study: