If you’re charged with a crime in Massachusetts, you’ll likely be in a precarious position before your case is resolved—either through a plea deal or a trial verdict.
This time period–from the arraignment to the disposition—can sometimes take two or more years.
At arraignment you are usually released on bail or on your own recognizance. When you’re released, the judge will warn you that, if you commit a new offense or violate the conditions of your release, your bail or recognizance can be revoked and you could be detained in jail for up to 90 days while your legal problems are pending.
According to M.G.L. c. 276, § 58B:
A person…who has violated a condition of his [pretrial] release, shall be subject to a revocation of release and an order of detention. The judicial officer shall enter an order of revocation and detention if after a hearing the judicial officer finds
(1) that there is probable cause to believe that the person has committed a federal or state crime while on release, or clear and convincing evidence that the person has violated any other condition of release; and
(2) the judicial officer finds that there are no conditions of release that will reasonably assure the person will not pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community; or the person is unlikely to abide by any condition or combination of conditions of release.
The statute provides that
a person so held shall not be detained for a period exceeding ninety days
This is not an empty threat. Judges routinely revoke bail and impose the 90 day detainment.
For this reason, it’s usually best to resolve your case without creating unnecessary delays.
Of course, there are strategic advantages to dragging out your case—witnesses and victims may lose interest, memories may fade, evidence may get lost, etc.
But these possible advantages must be weighed against the possibility of having a direct jail sentenced imposed on you if you slip up during that time.