Massachusetts G.L. c. 276B: Restorative Justice

Massachusetts General Laws chapter 276B was enacted by the recent 2018 criminal justice reform bill and offers additional diversion opportunities for adults and juveniles charged with eligible offenses. Diversion under Chapter 276B gives qualifying defendants the opportunity to avoid the criminal system by instead participating in appropriate community-based restorative justice programs.

Chapter 276B, Section 2 Provides:

“Participation in a community-based restorative justice program shall be voluntary and may be available to both a juvenile and adult defendant. A juvenile or adult defendant may be diverted to a community-based restorative justice program pre-arraignment or at any stage of a case with the consent of the district attorney and the victim. Restorative justice may be a final case disposition, with judicial approval. If a juvenile or adult defendant successfully completes the community-based restorative justice program, the charge shall be dismissed. If a juvenile or adult defendant does not successfully complete the program or is found to be in violation of program requirements, the case shall be returned to the court in which the defendant was arraigned in order to commence with proceedings. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit pre-arraignment law enforcement based programs and other programs.”

The statute thereby provides that diversion under this section may occur prior to arraignment or at any stage of the case thereafter, so long as the district attorney and any victims consent to this diversion. If the community-based diversion program is completed successfully the case should be dismissed. If the program is not successfully completed the case will proceed through the traditional court process.

Certain offenses will not be eligible for restorative justice participation, including sexual offenses under chapter 123 section 1, offenses against family or household members under chapter 265 section 13M and any offenses involving death or serious bodily injury.

Under G.L. c. 276B section 1, the term community-based restorative justice program refers to a voluntary program that involves parties to a crime and members of the community to engage and develop a plan that addresses the needs of the community and the involved parties. These programs may involve engaging the offenders in one-on-one dialogues with victims.

The statute further provides under G.L. c. 276B section 5, that an advisory committee, made up of 17 members, will be set up to oversee and evaluate these community-based restorative justice programs.

The provisions of this new chapter are effective as of April 13, 2018, thereby providing eligible offenders charged with crimes after this date with these additional opportunities for diversion through participation in community-based restorative justice programs. It is important to have an experienced defense attorney who is not only familiar with traditional diversion options, but is also familiar with these new laws and potential restorative justice alternatives. If you have received a summons for an arraignment you should contact an experienced attorney right away so that you may, if applicable, take advantage of diversion and restorative justice opportunities prior to your arraignment. Even if your case does not qualify for diversion or restorative justice opportunities it is important to have an experienced defense attorney to represent your interests and help to secure the best possible disposition of your case.

Massachusetts Diversion Attorney (617) 263-6800

If you or someone you know has been accused of a criminal offense in Massachusetts, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. Attorney Stephen Neyman is a Boston-based lawyer who practices in courts throughout the commonwealth. Drawing upon his decades of experience in criminal practice, Attorney Neyman regularly achieves excellent results for his clients. In countless cases, he has helped his clients to avoid entries on their criminal records by securing diversion opportunities and other similar dispositions. Attorney Neyman is a fierce advocate who will fight to protect your future. Because he understands that facing a criminal charge can cause anxiety and distress, he readily makes himself available to answer questions and address concerns. Call Attorney Neyman’s office at (617) 263-6800 or send him an e-mail today. You can reach his office at any time of day or night, so do not hesitate.

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