From Lawful Custody

What is "Escape from Lawful Custody?"

Escape from lawful custody is a misdemeanor offense in Massachusetts with a maximum punishment of two years in jail or by a $500 fine. M.G.L. ch. 120, sec 26 provides the three elements required for the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Those elements are:

  1. That the defendant was a prisoner who had been committed by legal procedures to the custody of a penal institution or correctional institution, or a jail;

  2. That the defendant escaped from (failed to return from any temporary release) a correctional institute, jail, or  custody of an officer of that institution or jail, while being conveyed to or from that [institution] [jail]); and

  3. That the defendant intentionally left custody without permission, in the sense that it was not done by accident or mistake.

The statute considers any leaving of custody, from a jail, a corrections facility, a courthouse, or from an officer from any of those places, without permission, to constitute the crime of escape. Escape also includes not returning from a temporary release, furlough, or work release program.

The statute specifically does not apply to those who are civilly committed for alcohol or drug treatment.


Defense to Escape

Escape charges are difficult charges to fight and require an experienced attorney to skillfully litigate your case. There are defenses to Escape from Lawful Custody, namely by necessity or by duress. A person in custody may not leave a designated area without permission, however, if a defendant leaves without permission due to a dangerous circumstance (like a fire in the jail or courthouse) then that person would not be guilty of escape. Also if the person is under duress, say by a threat of violence if they remained in the cell or in the courthouse, that person also would not be guilty of escape if they leave the area without permission. The law does not require defendants to subject themselves to harm in order to avoid a criminal charge. If there is good reason for the defendant to leave custody, for their own safety, that is a defense to a charge of escape.


The Equitas Experience

The Attorneys at Equitas Law have years of experience dealing with some of the most serious crimes, in all courts throughout Massachusetts. Our attorneys are typically able to make it so Escape from Lawful Custody charges do not impact your record or are even dismissed entirely as part of a larger disposition. Contact us today if you are facing a charge of Escape from Lawful Custody. Call or text (617) 723-4163 for a free consultation.

Some related content...

Criminal Defense FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

NO, you shouldn't! At least not without a lawyer after careful consideration.

Think about it. The police have a job, which is to solve crimes and bring criminal charges. The only reason for them to call you is because they are looking for evidence and there is no better evidence than your statement. Very often, they are calling you because they don't have enough evidence to charge you yet and they're looking to make their case with your statements.

They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. There is nothing to "clear up". They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Seriously, don't speak to the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first. It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

First, unless you have committed a very serious crime, the chances of you going to jail are minimal (especially if you hire a good attorney). In any event, this is not something that typically would happen until many months down the road.

We're not going to lie to you, if the prosecution can meet the burden of proof on your case, there will be consequences, ranging from a slap on the wrist to jail time. Our job is to minimize the consequences and to eliminate them, if possible.

Of course, this depends on the charges, your criminal history and many other factors, so please feel free to reach out and we can give you a more specific answer.

No, no, no, no no! Even if you decide to eventually take responsibility, your lawyer should negotiate the best deal possible. What this means depends entirely the circumstances of your criminal charge, but very often you can take responsibility and still avoid a permanent criminal record. It may also involve:

  • Pre-Trial Probation or Pre-Trial Diversion
  • An outright Dismissal of your charges upon payment of court costs
  • A Continuation Without a Finding, including the length and terms of your probation (after which the case is dismissed)
  • A period of straight probation without a jail or state prison sentence
  • A suspended sentence, where a sentence is imposed, but not served unless probation is violated
  • A lesser sentence to jail or prison and less severe conditions upon release

This is to say nothing of the fact that your case may be winnable on a motion to dismiss or at trial!

In many cases, yes. Some cases have issues that may justify a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence.

Others can and should be taken to trial, or call for a plea as soon as possible so the client can move on with their life.

The decision on what to do really depends on the facts of the case and your individual goals.

This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney who can quickly evaluate your specific case to see if there are any issues worth pursuing.

Related Content:

Strategy and Potential Issues in Massachusetts Criminal Cases

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

No, do NOT talk to the police without a lawyer. They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Their job is to gather evidence of crimes and there is no better evidence than your statement.

It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

It is very possible that you can avoid a criminal record, especially if you don't have a significant criminal history and and it is a relatively minor offense.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our criminal cases cases are handled on a flat fee basis, ranging from a clerk-magistrate's hearing to superior court or federal court cases.

All we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

Of course, it is prefereable to have an attorney at the arraignment, but don't panic! First, you can call or text me at any time and I may be able to be there. If not, take a look at this link for all the information you need:

Arraignment in Massachusetts – What You Need to Know.

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