The crime of home invasion in Massachusetts is generally defined as an unauthorized and forceful entry into a dwelling with the intent to commit another crime against the occupants such as robbery, assault, rape, murder, or kidnapping. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 18C governs the legal definition and punishment for those found guilty of home invasion. The law states says that any individual who enters the dwelling house of another person, knowingly or having reason to know, that someone is home and remains in the home while armed with a dangerous weapon, and uses or threatens force upon a person in the dwelling shall be in violation of the home invasion statute. A dwelling house is any place that people live. Dwelling houses include single-family homes, duplexes, apartments, tenement buildings, hotels, boarding houses, dormitories, or any other buildings where people are domiciled.
A conviction for home invasion in Massachusetts is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years, or for life or any term of years. In order to convict a defendant of the crime of home invasion, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant entered the dwelling house of another person;
- The defendant knew or should have known someone was occupying the premises when he or she entered the property, or that he or she remained inside the premises once he or she learned that someone was present;
- The defendant was armed at the time of entry; and
- The defendant used or threatened force on any of the occupants in the dwelling or that the defendant intentionally caused injury to anyone residing on the premises.
For the first element of this crime, physical entry is satisfied once any part of the defendant's body, or any instrument or weapon controlled by the defendant enters the dwelling. The second element of the crime has proven somewhere difficult for prosecutors to prove due to the fact that often times the offender was unaware of the presence of another individual inside the dwelling. Therefore, it is often difficult to establish whether or not the offender knew or had reason to know the dwelling house was occupied at the time of the invasion. The third element requires the prosecutor to prove that the defendant was in possession of a dangerous weapon at the time of the invasion.
A dangerous weapon is defined as one capable of jeopardizing a life or causing serious injury. The law distinguishes or characterizes dangerous weapons into two categories. The first is an instrumentality designed and constructed to produce death or great bodily harm (per se dangerous weapon). Some common examples of this type of dangerous weapon include knives, guns, explosives, switchblades, brass knuckles, and swords. The second kind of dangerous weapon is an instrumentality not designed or constructed to produce death or great bodily harm, but when used in a specific manner may become a dangerous weapon. In this second category, an otherwise innocent item can become a dangerous weapon if it is intentionally used as a dangerous weapon or in a potentially dangerous fashion. For example, a pencil aimed at another’s eyeball can be considered a dangerous weapon. Commonwealth v Tarrant establishes that a dog may be considered a dangerous weapon for the purposes of this crime.
The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has made a name for itself over the past 18 years as a successful and effective criminal defense firm based out of Boston, Massachusetts. Patrick J. Murphy, Esq. has countless experience investigating cases and providing sound legal advice and aggressive criminal defense representation to clients facing a wide array of criminal charges. While the job of a prosecutor is to prepare a case against you and prove your guilt in regards to a crime, it is the job of a talented criminal defense attorney to defend your rights aggressively in order to avoid a conviction for the offense charged. If you or a family member has been investigated or charged with a crime such as criminal home invasion, please call immediately for a free professional legal consultation from a reputable Massachusetts home invasion criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to preserve all of your legal options. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy by calling (617) 367-0450 or email us directly using our online contact form.