On April 27, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a key piece of legislation geared towards reducing the number of domestic violence and sexual assault victims throughout the state. Among other things, the executive order puts into place The Governor's Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.
The goal of the Council is to work with government agencies throughout the Commonwealth to implement a 2014 law that focuses on coordinating housing for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as providing them with other key services. According to Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who accompanied Baker at the signing, the council plans on finding ways to prevent those victims from becoming homeless and suffering other types of economic insecurity.
During a press conference, the governor revealed that last year, the Department of Public Health received reports of over 2,000 incidents related to domestic violence and sexual assault. The governor indicated that it's likely there were actually more victims than those numbers might indicate, as many victims of these types of crimes do not report them. One statistic provided by DPH indicates that one out of every six Massachusetts women will become a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault over the course of her lifetime. For Massachusetts men that number is estimated at one in 21.
If you are currently facing charges for domestic violence there are a few things you should know. Massachusetts has adopted a tough stance against individuals convicted of committing violent acts against people with whom they share intimate relationships. Your conviction could result in lengthy jail time and substantial fines. In some cases, you may even be ordered to leave your home and refrain from having contact with your children. A conviction could also strip your rights to possess firearms away from you.
The good news is that your arrest does not automatically guarantee a conviction. You have a right to retain legal representation throughout every aspect of your criminal proceedings. Your attorney can challenge the accuracy and validity of any testimony or evidence prosecutors seek to use against you.
If successful, your Massachusetts criminal defense attorney may be able to prevent prosecutors from using key pieces of evidence or testimony at your trial. Additionally, in some cases, your attorney can negotiate on your behalf for a reduction of your charges in exchange for a plea settlement agreement.
Source: Mass live- State House News Service, "Gov. Charlie Baker signs order to address sexual and domestic violence," Matt Murphy, April. 27, 2015