At the end of August, Massachusetts state governor Charlie Baker introduced a package of criminal justice system reform bills that would result in some major changes. Supporters of the new bills include law enforcement officials, the Secretary of Public Safety and Security, the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, Massachusetts Major City Police Chiefs Association, and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. In this post, we’ll discuss what these changes will look like if the bill passes into law.
Drug Trafficking & Death
One portion of the proposed criminal justice reform legislation would impose minimum mandatory sentencing for people who sell drugs to others that result in death. If someone is convicted of furnishing drugs that cause the drug user to die, they will be required to serve a prison sentence of at least five years. Supporters of criminal justice reform argue that minimum mandatory sentencing laws have largely contributed to the current broken system.
Another component of the new legislation extends legal protections to crime witnesses. Currently, a witness to a crime is given protection before and during a criminal trial, but not afterward. Governor Baker said “This legislation rewrites our witness intimidation statute so that it once again covers retaliatory conduct” following a trial. It is aimed to keep people safe when returning to their communities and to encourage people to come forward with important information that law enforcement officials need.
Solicitation of Murder
Currently, soliciting someone to commit murder is only punishable by a misdemeanor. In most other states and at the federal level, enticing someone to commit a murder is a serious felony. If passed, this portion of the legislation would make “murder for hire” a felony offense.
When a new drug enters our state, there is often a temporary gray area when it comes to how to punish the use and sale of the new substance. This new bill would reduce this ambiguous time period by adopting any federal scheduling of new drugs automatically. After, the state may choose to reclassify the drug if it so chooses, or permanently adopt the federal government’s scheduling of the drug.
Here to Protect Your Rights
Attorney Whitney has been defending the rights of his clients for 40 years in Amherst and the surrounding areas. If you are facing criminal charges and/or are concerned about changing criminal legislation, contact our firm today at (413) 256-6234 to schedule a consultation with a trusted and experienced criminal defense lawyer.