Because I’m a Massachusetts drunk driving defense attorney, I regularly follow the news about drunk driving cases, and a recent article about an alleged drunk driving case in Fall River caught my interest. Robert Rebello, 40, of Fall River, is being held in Bristol County jail because the prosecutor argued that he is too dangerous to society to be released on bail. Because Rebello had three OUI convictions from 1988, 1990, and 1996, Bristol County Judge Brian Gilligan agreed to keep him in jail pending a dangerousness hearing. At that hearing, the judge will decide whether to keep Rebello in jail until he can be tried.
Rebello was arrested at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 3, and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol. Fall River firefighters had alerted police that their fire truck was almost hit by a Toyota pickup truck, so police were looking for an erratic driver. A Massachusetts state trooper saw Rebello’s truck swerve across the road several times and pulled him over. The state trooper reported that Rebello smelled of alcohol, had glassy eyes, and slurred his speech. During a field sobriety test, he was unable to recite the alphabet. Police found several empty beer cans in the truck. He was charged with a fourth OUI, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 2.5 years and a maximum of five years.
Read article: Fall River driver held pending dangerousness hearing.
As a Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer, I think it’s important for drivers to be aware that they can be kept in jail without bail for drunk driving before they’re even convicted. Usually, judges set bail to ensure that accused drivers will appear at their next court hearings. But Massachusetts law allows judges to deny bail and keep drivers in jail until trial if they are charged with an OUI after three previous drunk driving convictions. Dangerousness hearings can be used in non-OUI cases as well, such as a recent Bridgewater case in which a man was held without bail after allegedly attacking his estranged wife with a hammer and attempting to strangle her and her father in front of her toddler. Such suspects may be kept in jail for up to 90 days before a trial must be held.
Keeping someone in jail without bail requires a dangerousness hearing, at which the judge weighs whether the person is too much of a danger to others to be allowed to go free. Defendants can be represented by an attorney at this hearing, and as a Massachusetts intoxicated driving criminal defense lawyer, I recommend it very strongly. People face serious hardships and disruptions to their lives when they are jailed for three months. Even if they wind up not being convicted of the crime, or having the charges dismissed, being kept in jail for 90 days could cause them to lose a job. If people in this position have children or pets, who would take care of them during this period? Keeping up with financial obligations like rent or mortgage payments while in jail and unable to work could be pretty difficult as well. That’s why it’s essential to mount the best defense you can at any dangerousness hearing.