What is a Massachusetts Dangerousness Hearing?


A dangerousness hearing is when the prosecution requests a judge to hold a defendant without bail for up to 120 days. If you lose a dangerousness hearing, you will be locked up in jail without being convicted of anything. It will not feel like you are still presumed innocent until proven guilty. 

Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 276, Section 58A, “The commonwealth may move, based on dangerousness, for an order of pretrial detention or release on conditions for a felony offense that has as an element of the offense the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against the person of another or any other felony that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person of another may result…”

If the appropriate initial criteria is met, a date will be set for the dangerousness hearing to occur. Except for good cause, the hearing will likely occur within seven (7) days after a defendant's arraignment. A defendant has a constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer at the hearing. It is important to have an experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense lawyer represent you at a dangerousness hearing. The attorneys at Ellison Law LLC have represented many clients at various dangerousness hearings within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A defendant has the right to summons in witnesses at this hearing and can compel their attendance and testimony. A defendant has the right to present evidence on their own behalf. 

The judge will have to determine two things at the hearing. First, the judge will try to determine if the person is considered a danger. Second, if the judge finds the person to be a danger, then the judge will determine whether the person should be detained or impose conditions of release. In the judge's analysis, they will consider the following:

  • Nature and seriousness of the danger posed to any person or the community that would result by the person's release;
  • Nature and circumstances of the offense charged;
  • Potential penalty the person faces;
  • Family ties, employment record;
  • History of mental illness, reputation;
  • Risk that the person would attempt to obstruct justice or threaten, injure or intimidate any witnesses; and
  • Record of the person's convictions.

After the hearing, the defendant can appeal the decision to the Superior Court. If you or a loved one is facing a dangerousness hearing, call Ellison Law LLC today at 401-230-5520

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