If you have been charged with a crime of Domestic Violence or Restraining Order Violation, you should promptly consult with an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to successfully represent you through every stage of the criminal case. Attorney Bethany Rogers has the unique experience of having worked as both prosecutor and defense attorney in the District and Superior Courts of Massachusetts for the past 18 years, which has equipped her with specialized knowledge of criminal law and extensive trial experience. As a prosecutor, Attorney Rogers was a member of the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Unit where she received high-level training from the National College of District Attorneys, the Massachusetts District Attorney’s Association, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General. Attorney Rogers handled countless cases from investigation through trial in the Juvenile, District, and Superior Courts of Norfolk County. Since making the move to Criminal Defense in 2012, Attorney Rogers has used her extensive knowledge and experience to successfully defend her clients in courts throughout the Commonwealth. To see a sampling of some of Attorney Rogers’ results click here. 

To learn more about Domestic Violence and Restraining Order laws read on.

In 2014, the Massachusetts Legislature passed into law An Act Relative to Domestic Violence. The law made changes to domestic violence laws, including laws pertaining to bail. Under the new law, a person charged with a crime of domestic violence or a restraining order violation may not be released on bail within six hours of arrest except by a judge in open court. Additionally, arraignment on such charge(s) may not occur within three hours of a criminal complaint being signed by a magistrate unless a prosecutor moves the court to hear it sooner. At the arraignment, a judge is required to inquire of prosecutors as to whether abuse (defined below) is alleged to have occurred immediately prior to or in conjunction with the crime(s) charged, and a prosecutor is required to file a preliminary written statement if it is alleged that abuse occurred. The judge shall then make a written ruling that abuse is alleged in connection with the offense(s) following which the statement will be maintained in a statewide domestic violence record-keeping system. The only way the information may be removed from the system is if the charge(s) result in a Not Guilty verdict or a motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause is allowed. The statement may not be removed for dismissals for any other reason.

Abuse is defined as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members: (a) attempting to cause or causing physical harm; (b) placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; and (c) causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress. See M.G.L. c. 209A, § 1.

Family or household members are defined as persons who: (a) are or were married to one another; (b) are or were residing together in the same household; (c) are or were related by blood or marriage; (d) have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or (e) are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship. When determining whether a substantive dating relationship exists or existed, the following factors will be considered: (1) the length of time of the relationship; (2) the type of relationship; (3) the frequency of interaction between the parties; and (4) if the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship. See M.G.L. c. 209A, § 1.

An Act Relative to Domestic Violence, also created a specific section (M.G.L. c. 265,  § 13M) for assault and battery offenses against Family or Household Members, making the crimes immediately recognizable in court and on CORI’s as crimes of domestic violence. The new section also added enhanced penalties for second or subsequent acts of domestic assault or assault and battery, making them punishable by a term of imprisonment in the House of Correction up to 2 1/2 years or in State Prison up to 5 years. By adding the State Prison penalty, the Legislature converted a second or subsequent offense to a felony. Conviction on a felony charge has serious collateral consequences including disqualification from many employment opportunities and the requirement of submitting a DNA sample to the government.

An Act Relative to Domestic Violence also extended jurisdiction for the crimes of Strangulation and Suffocation (M.G.L. c. 265, § 15D) to the District Court, which means District Attorneys now have the option of keeping a Strangulation/Suffocation case in District Court or indicting and prosecuting in the Superior Court. The crimes of Strangulation and Suffocation are felony offenses carrying up to 2 1/2 years in the House of Correction or up to 5 years in State Prison. There are enhanced penalties for second and subsequent offenses, offenses against pregnant women, and persons protected by a restraining order, which carry up to 2 1/2 years in the House of Correction or up to 10 years in State Prison.

Any person sentenced for a crime of domestic violence or violation of a restraining order must be ordered to complete a certified batterer’s intervention program unless the sentencing judge, upon good cause shown, issues written findings describing the reasons the program should not be ordered, or the program concludes that the individual is not suitable for intervention.

If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violation or violating a restraining order, you should contact an attorney right away. Call attorney Bethany Rogers at 617-227-7200 for a free and confidential consultation.

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