The Crime of Home Invasion In Massachusetts
What Is Considered A Home Invasion In Massachusetts?
The crime of home invasion is defined in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 18C. There are four elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before a defendant can be convicted of this offense.
First, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant entered another’s dwelling place unlawfully. In this context, “entering” means entering without consent. The defendant is considered to have entered, even if he only places his hand or foot into the dwelling place unlawfully. A “dwelling place” is a place in which people live or reside. Places such as hotels, hospitals, dormitories and even barns are considered “dwelling places.” Generally, any place where persons sleep is considered a “dwelling place.” A defendant enters “unlawfully” if he has no right to enter.
Second, the prosecutor is required to prove that the defendant either knew or had a reason to know that someone was inside of the building. Alternatively, this element can be satisfied if it is proven that the defendant stayed inside of the building after he found out that someone was home. If the defendant entered the building for any innocent reason (i.e. by accident), this element is not satisfied. The defendant’s knowledge may be proven by his actions or words and the inferences drawn from them.
Third, the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant was armed with a dangerous weapon when he entered the building. Common dangerous weapons are guns, knives, and brass knuckles. Additionally, many seemingly harmless items can become dangerous weapons when they are used in dangerous manners. Even pencils, lighted cigarettes and shoes can be considered dangerous weapons when they are used in ways that could inflict serious bodily injury or cause death.
Lastly, the prosecutor has the burden of proving that the defendant used or threatened force against a person in the building.
What Is The Difference Between A Home Invasion And A Breaking And Entering?
The major distinction between these crimes is that with a home invasion—someone was home during the commission of the breaking and entering and the defendant had reason to know that someone would be home. Thus, if a defendant broke into a house or apartment during the night then the jury could infer that the defendant should have known that someone would be home. Depending on the case, a jury can rely on reasonable inferences in deciding whether the District Attorney satisfied this element of the crime.
What Are Some Defenses That Can Be Raised To Defend This Crime?
Obviously, every case is different. However, after examining the facts of a particular case an experienced attorney must determine whether to raise a defense of misidentification, alibi [I was not there] or that the District Attorney failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
What Are The Potential Sentences If Convicted Of This Crime?
Home invasion is a felony which means that if convicted of this crime a defendant will be sentenced to state prison as opposed to a house of correction. In Massachusetts the state prisons are M.C.I. Walpole [Walpole], M. C.I. Norfolk [Norfolk], Souza Baranowski Corretional Center, M.C.I. Shirley [Shirley] and Bridgewater. If you are convicted of home invasion, you will be punished by at least 20 years in prison.