What is a Dangerousness Hearing, In Massachusetts?

Massachusetts Dangerousness Hearing


In Massachusetts, a “Dangerousness Hearing” may be held to consider if a person is a danger to the community. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 276, Section 58A, a person may be held without bail for a period of 120 days should one lose such a hearing. At a dangerousness hearing, the Commonwealth must prove to the court by clear and convincing evidence that:

  1. The defendant is a risk to the community or a person in the community; and
  2. That there is no combination of conditions of release that can reasonably assure the safety of others or the community.

A dangerousness hearing must be motioned for by the Commonwealth on the defendant’s initial arraignment in court. The court, at a dangerousness hearing will then consider:

  • The nature and circumstance of offense charged;
  • The potential penalty;
  • The defendant’s family ties;
  • The defendant’s employment record;
  • The defendant’s history of mental illness;
  • The defendant’s reputation;
  • The risk that defendant will obstruct justice or attempt to obstruct justice;
  • The risk that the defendant will threaten, injure or intimidate a prospective witness or juror;
  • The defendant’s record of convictions;
  • Any illegal drug distribution or present drug dependency;
  • The defendant’s bail status in other cases;
  • Whether allegations involve abuse or a violation of a temporary or permanent order of protection;
  • Whether defendant has had orders of protection issued against him; and
  • Defendant’s probation status and/or parole status and whether defendant is on release pending sentence or during an appeal from a conviction.

The dangerousness statute reads in part: “The commonwealth may move, based on dangerousness, for an order of pretrial detention or release on conditions for a felony offense that has as an element of the offense the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against the person of another or any other felony that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person of another may result,”

The prosecution can bring forth evidence and witnesses to try and convince a court. The defendant also has a right to bring forth witnesses or evidence to counter the prosecutions argument. Normally, the rule of evidence are relaxed in dangerousness hearings and reliable hearsay is permissible.

At a Dangerousness Hearing should a judge rule in favor of the prosecution and a defendant is held without bail, a defendant has the right to appeal the decision to the Superior Court. Conversely, if the prosecution is unable to prove sufficiently the dangerousness of the defendant, the defendant will be released on bail during the pendency of the case.


If you have a dangerousness hearing in which you are seeking strong and aggressive representation, contact Attorney Noah Kilroy immediately. Call or text us today at 401-855-9023 for a free consultation.