Salem woman kidnapping hearing
A recent example in the news of “Dangerousness Hearings”
Just yesterday a “dangerousness hearing” took place at the Salem District Court (Massachusetts) regarding the Salem woman kidnapping hearing which prompted me to explain how this process works and what you’d expect if you were involved in such a hearing. This doesn’t capture every single detail or “what if” but it gives you a basic idea of how the hearing works.
A man was alleged to have kidnapped his girlfriend after the two had a conversation about their relationship. The Commonwealth alleged that the defendant drove through the streets with this woman in his car, all the while terrifying her and threatening her. The entire time, she was on the emergency 911 line with a dispatch officer. During the hearing, the Court heard recordings of the woman begging police to help her during the incident, testimony that there was a long history of violence between this man and woman and a criminal history for the defendant that exemplified an assaultive nature. Ultimately, Judge Robert Brennan ordered the man held without bail after finding him a danger not only to his current girlfriend, but to the community at large.
Under G.L. c. 276, s. 58A, the Commonwealth can seek for a defendant to be held without bail by, or at liberty subject to certain conditions of, the Court during the pendency of a case due to the nature and circumstances of a particular crime, the likelihood of the defendant to return for trial and the danger to any person(s) in the community or the community at large.
If the Commonwealth files a motion to seek such detention, the Court will hold a hearing to determine whether pending trial, the individual shall be 1) released on personal recognizance without surety; 2) released on conditions of release as set forth herein; 3) or detained (held without bail). The burden is on the Commonwealth to prove that the person is a danger to the victim, or to the general community,
If the Court determines that personal recognizance will not reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required or will endanger the safety of any other person or the community, such judicial officer shall order the pretrial release of the person subject to a condition that the person not commit a federal, state or local crime during the period of release. The person will remain at liberty during the pendency of the case so long as s/he abides by these rules.
If the Court chooses to release the defendant with conditions, the Court is free to impose whatever conditions it sees fit to ensure return of the defendant and safety. Such examples include an order that the defendant stay away from and/or have no contact with the victim, report to probation regularly, wear a GPS monitor, stay in the custody of a particular person (parent, sibling, spouse), observe a curfew, participate in drug/alcohol counseling, remain drug/alcohol free, attend counseling, have a mental health evaluation, be gainfully employed or seeking employment or seek/ maintain education.
If the Court finds that there are no conditions that would assure the victim, or the community at large, safety, the Court can order the person held without bail during the pendency of the case for a period of 90 days.
If you are confronted with such a hearing, always have counsel by your side to ensure your interests are properly represented. Evidence is presented at the hearings and testimony is recorded. Important decisions are made that affect the future of the case. If you choose to proceed on your own, chances are you can really hurt your case.