August 2012 Archives

Quincy District Court to Hear Assault Charges from Weight Room Altercation

dumbbell.jpgCriminal charges were lodged against 44 year-old Timothy Dutcher on Thursday as a result of his confrontation with another man at a Braintree gym. According to Boston.com, Mr. Dutcher and an unnamed 27 year-old Quincy man were working out in a Braintree gym when Dutcher allegedly "became enraged" at the Quincy man.

Dutcher allegedly backed the "victim" into a corner, slapped him, and held two dumbbells over his head while verbally threatening him. The victim extricated himself and made tracks to a nearby gas station to call the police to report his humiliation. By the time the police got to the gym, however, Dutcher had left. They then went to Dutcher's home and arrested him. Based on the victim's narrative, the police charged Dutcher with Assault and Battery, Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, and Threats.

This is one of those cases that makes you wonder about the back story. What were these guys arguing about? Did the victim violate gym ethics by failing to rack his weights? Did the victim cut in on Dutcher's routine? Did they know each other? There must be witnesses. How big is the victim compared to Dutcher? Is there some code behind the word "enraged" as used in the article. Is someone implying "roid" rage? Why did the victim bother calling the police at all? There's the law and then there's just life. Apparently some people are just more prone to assume the victim role.

The charge of Assault with Dangerous Weapons (dumbbells) is a felony. If not for this allegation, there may not have been an arrest at all. If all of the charges were misdemeanors, Dutcher would have had a right to a Clerk's Hearing where all this could have been hashed out between the parties without the necessity of the criminal process. This would have been best in this circumstance.

As it stands, I expect that Dutcher made bail from the police station and was either arraigned on Friday or will be at some time in the near future. At arraignment, the judge may order him to stay away from both the victim and the gym while the case is pending. An experienced criminal defense attorney will obviously focus on avoiding convictions for any of these charges, especially the felony. Any conviction may involve a jail sentence, probation, fines, fees and further stay-away orders.

For better or for worse, the days of self-help after the bully kicks sand in your face are over.

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New Sentencing Legislation a Double-Edged Sword

prison cell.jpgLast week the governor signed a law entitled "An Act Relative to Sentencing and Improving Law Enforcement Tools." This has also been called "Melissa's Bill" and "TheThree Strikes Law." The law dramatically increases certain sentences, and moderately decreases others. Essentially those convicted of multiple felonies receive harsher punishments, and those convicted of certain drug-related crime receive lesser punishment. Here are some provisions:

SENTENCE INCREASES - FELONIES

  • For a prisoner serving a life sentence to be granted parole, two thirds of the parole board must agree. Previously a majority vote of the board could grant parole.
  • Prisoners serving more than one life sentence are no longer eligible for parole.
  • Anyone convicted of a felony who had previously been convicted of two felonies and imprisoned for at least 3 years for each must receive the maximum sentence. Parole will only be available after two thirds of this sentence has been served.
  • Anyone convicted of a violent felony who had previously been convicted of two violent offenses (there are 42 listed) and imprisoned for at least 3 years for each must receive the maximum sentence and will not be eligible for parole. This creates a situation where there are now 17 crimes (in addition to first degree murder) that carry a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

SENTENCE DECREASES - DRUG RELATED CRIMES

TRAFFICKING COCAINE

Old Law
Between 14 and 28 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 3 years.
Between 28 and 100 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 5 years.
Between 100 and 200 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 10 years.
Excess of 200 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 15 years.

New Law
Between 18 and 36 grams punishable by mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years.
Between 36 and 100 grams punishable by mandatory minimum sentence of 3 ½ years.
Between 100 and 200 grams punishable by mandatory minimum sentence of 8 years.
Excess of 200 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 12 years.

TRAFFICKING HEROIN

Old Law
Between 14 and 28 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 5 years.
Between 28 and 100 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 7 years.
Between 100 and 200 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 10 years.
Excess of 200 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 15 years.

New Law
Between 18 and 36 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 3 1/2 years.
Between 36 and 100 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 5 years.
Between 100 and 200 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 8 years.
Excess of 200 grams punishable by mandatory minimum 12 years.

TRAFFICKING MARIJUANA

Old Law
Between 100 and 2,000 pounds punishable by mandatory minimum 3 years.
Between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds punishable by mandatory minimum 5 years.
Excess of 10,000 pounds punishable by mandatory minimum 10 years.

New Law
Between 100 and 2,000 pounds punishable by mandatory minimum 2 years
Between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds punishable by mandatory minimum 3 ½ years.
Excess of 10,000 pounds punishable by mandatory minimum 8 years.

SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE HEROIN DISTRIBUTION

Old Law - Mandatory minimum 5 years.
New Law - Mandatory minimum 3 1/2 years.

SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE COCAINE DISTRIBUTION

Old Law - Mandatory minimum 3 years.
New Law - Mandatory minimum 2 years.

SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE CLASS B (OTHER) DISTRIBUTION

Old Law - Mandatory minimum 5 years.
New Law - Mandatory minimum 3 1/2 years.

SCHOOL ZONE CASES

The new law makes no changes in sentencing for school zone convictions. The new law does, however, make substantive changes in the elements of a school zone violation.

Old Law - Anyone distributing drugs or possession them with the intent to distribute them at any time of day within 1000 feet of a school was committing a school zone violation.
New Law - Anyone distributing drugs or possession them with the intent to distribute them between the hours of 5 a.m. and midnight within 300 feet of a school will be committing a school zone violation.

RETROACTIVITY: The statute specifically states that anyone serving a mandatory minimum sentence at the time that this new law becomes effective "shall be eligible for probation, parole, work release and deductions in sentence for good conduct" under the new law.

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