Massachusetts allows ‘dangerousness’ hearings in gun crimes
District attorneys in Massachusetts can now request “dangerousness” hearings for individuals charged with certain gun crimes. Dangerousness hearings allow a court to hold defendants without bail before a trial on an assessment of the defendant’s risk to the community.
Passed earlier this year, “An Act Reforming the Administrative Procedures Relative to Criminal Offender Record Information and Pre and Post Trial Supervised Release,” allows dangerousness hearings for individuals charged with carrying an illegal firearm, illegally possessing a machine gun or sawed off shotgun, a high capacity firearm or possessing a firearm after being convicted of a felony, according to Gov. Deval Patrick’s office. “For any violent felony involving a firearm, there will now be a presumption of dangerousness that will keep the accused held until the trial,” Patrick told members of the Bristol County, Mass., law enforcement community in a meeting Monday.
An early advocate of the new law, Bristol County District Attorney Samuel Sutter instructed his prosecutors to request dangerousness hearings at nearly all arraignments involving defendants charged with illegally possessing a firearm in public beginning in 2007. In two years, New Bedford saw a 33 percent decline in reports of shots fired. The bill passed this year implemented the practice statewide.
In an attempt to improve employment opportunities and reduce recidivism, the new bill allows non-violent offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences to receive supervision and training before being released back into the community.
Read more about “An Act Reforming the Administrative Procedures Relative to Criminal Offender Record Information and Pre and Post Trial Supervised Release.”