In Massachusetts and most states, violent crimes are criminal offenses that involve the use or the attempted use of violence or forceful conduct to engage in a crime. This can be against another person by itself or in the commission of any felony. Because of the violent nature of such crimes, and their tendency to get a lot of publicity, criminal conduct that involves serious violence is prosecuted aggressively by the various district attorneys in Massachusetts. (Bostonglobe.com)
According to Massachusetts state law, a violent crime is one that involves weapons, threats or physical force. Some of the most common violent crimes that are prosecuted in Massachusetts are:
- Assault and battery
- Aggravated assault
- Armed robbery
- Sex crimes
- Armed burglary
Below is more information about some of the most common violent crime charges and punishments in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Murder Laws - First Degree
The most common violent crime charge in Massachusetts is murder. In this state, you can be prosecuted by the state for first degree or second degree murder. First degree murder occurs when you intentionally kill another person and had premeditation in doing so. First degree murder also can be charged in this state if you commit another felony and someone dies. In Massachusetts, this is called felony murder. For a charge of felony murder, the prosecutor needs to prove that the murder was a consequence of you doing another felony that can be punished by death or life in prison.
To demonstrate what a felony murder violent crime is, say you rob a bank and by mistake kill an innocent bystander with your gun when you run out of the bank. You probably did not intend to kill her, but it was committed during the commission of armed robbery. If the jury on the case decides this case involved extreme cruelty, the charges could net you even more serious punishment.
Second Degree Murder
This crime is where you kill another person on purpose but there was no premeditation. This sort of killing often happens in the heat of the moment during a fight with a loved one. Usually the defendant did intend to kill but there was no intent until that very moment to commit murder.
In Massachusetts, to be convicted of second degree murder, you have to have had malice aforethought. This means that you had intent to commit serious bodily injury to someone but you had no legal reason to do so. Just as with a first degree murder violent crime charge, malice means intent to act in such a way that a reasonable individual would know the end result would probably be death or serious harm. The malice aspect in a charge of second degree murder does not require you to have had intent to cause the death - only serious bodily injury.
Rape is another common violent crime in Massachusetts. It refers to the penetration of any bodily orifice by any body part, by object, and is performed against the will of the victim without consent and with the threat of or actual use of force. If you are armed with a gun, the penalties are more severe.
Note under Massachusetts law that physically forcing a victim to have intercourse is not the only way a rape can occur. If the person is unable to give consent for some reason, including intoxication or mental impairment, this is also rape.
Some related violent crimes under Massachusetts law are:
- Indecent assault and battery on a person over 14: touching that is offensive to moral values, such as touching breasts, buttocks and genitals. Punishable by five years in state prison.
- Indecent assault and battery on child under 14: Touching of breasts, buttocks or genitals of child under 14. Maximum penalty is 10 years in state prison.
- Indecent assault and battery on person with intellectual disability: Maximum penalty is 10 years in state prison.
- Indecent assault and battery on elder or disabled person: Indecent touching of a person with a long term physical or mental impairment, or the elderly. Maximum penalty is 10 years in state prison.
- Aggravated indecent assault and battery on a child under 14: This is touching committed during various felony offense or if you are a mandated reporter. Maximum penalty is life in prison.
In Massachusetts, there are several levels of kidnapping charges, and most of them are felonies with stiff prison sentences. To be convicted of the violent crime of kidnapping in this state, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements:
- The person was taken by you without lawful authority
- The person was forcibly or secretly confined or imprisoned against their will.
Massachusetts Penalties for Violent Crimes
For a first degree murder conviction in Massachusetts, you can be given a sentence of life in prison without parole. Every first degree murder conviction in Massachusetts is sent to appeal automatically to the Supreme Judicial Court, but the decisions are rarely overturned.
For second degree murder, you can get a life sentence, but you may be able to get parole after you have served approximately 15 years. With a second degree murder charge, you can waive your right to a trial by jury and have your case decided by a judge; this is called a bench trial.
For rape, you can receive up to 20 years in prison for a conviction, as well as probation, GPS monitoring and fines.
For kidnapping, you can receive 10 years in state prison. The common defense here is consent; you did not take the person against their will.
What To Do Next
Anyone who is facing a violent crime charge in Massachusetts or another state should seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Attorney Nathan is an excellent criminal defense attorney you need to obtain the best result in your violent crime charge case, whether for murder, rape, kidnapping or another violent crime. For a criminal defense legal consultation, please contact him at (617) 472-5775.
- Overall, Violent Crime Fell in Mass - Data Shows. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/10/14/overall-violent-crime-fell-mass-data-show-though-homicides-rose/gwOF0uTdl60g4GWZXQ4IUL/story.html