Criminal Law

Criminal Law

Melanie Shapiro is a Bar Advocate for Worcester County. She completed the Zealous Advocacy intensive training with the Committee for Public Counsel Service to represent adults and juveniles in criminal proceedings in the Massachusetts District Courts.3 (2010).

Criminal Law


In Massachusetts, a misdemeanor is any criminal offense that does not carry the potential for state prison. The maximum sentence for a misdemeanor is 2 ½ years  in the house of corrections. Usually, a misdemeanor sentence can include incarceration at the house of corrections or a term of probation.


A felony is any criminal offense that is punishable by state prison time. Felony crimes involve drug and narcotics charges, arson, burglary, armed robbery, murder and/or attempted murder, rape and/or sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated assault and battery. A felony conviction privileges and Constitutional rights of U.S. citizenship.


“Crimmigration” is the crossover between immigration and criminal law. Attorney Shapiro’s expertise in immigration law sets up immigrant clients in criminal proceedings in the best position to make decisions that have a huge impact on their immigration status.

It is important to have someone to defend you who understands the impact on immigration status. The way that immigration interprets criminal dispositions is complicated. For example, a misdemeanor can be considered an “aggravated felony” for immigration purposes and a disposition that does not result in a conviction under criminal law can still be considered a conviction for immigration purposes.  The way that immigration law interprets criminal law can change too based on new appellate court decisions.

Post-conviction relief

There are several remedies that may be available to a person seeking to overturn a conviction or reduce the punishment. These include motions for a new trial, motions for sentence reduction, motions to vacate, and habeas corpus petitions.

In 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States held that criminal defense attorneys are required under the Sixth Amendment to advise noncitizen clients of the immigration consequences of their guilty pleas. If a defendant was not properly advised of the immigration consequences of a plea deal, they may be able to have the conviction vacated. Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010).