CRIMINAL DEFENSE FOR VIOLENT CRIME ALLEGATIONS IN MASSACHUSETTS

   Serving Greater Boston, Essex, Middlesex, & Suffolk Counties

In Massachusetts, capital punishment exists only in the Federal Court. Experienced lawyers know that their responsibility to the client extends beyond the courtroom; they have an obligation to keep clients informed, to advise them honestly, and to help keep them safe while the case works its way through the system. At the law firm of Mark C. Thomas, we go above and beyond the call of duty to assist our clients with all aspects and implications of a given case.

The police and prosecution go to great - sometimes extraordinary - lengths to convict a citizen they have charged with murder. It is not unusual for several detectives to work a single murder case. Increasingly, the prosecution relies on forensic evidence to place the accused at the scene of the crime. In an effort to seal victory for the state, prosecutors may call experts in forensic disciplines ranging from DNA analysis, toxicology, pharmacology, crime scene reconstruction, fingerprint analysis, blood splatter analysis, ballistics, bodily fluid analysis to pathology. Now, more than ever, a criminal defense lawyer is called upon to have intimate knowledge of the high tech forensic evidence a prosecutor might marshall against his client. What might appear to be damning scientific evidence at first blush may, in fact, demonstrate the accused's innocence. Mark Thomas himself is a Certified Homicide Investigator who knows the difference and consistently leverages his knowledge and experience to acquit clients.

Here are the most common violent crime charges in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

Murder

Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being by another with malice aforethought.

1st Degree Murder (MGL 265, § 1)

Murder committed with malice and deliberate premeditation or with malice and extreme atrocity or cruelty. Murder committed during the commission or attempted commission of a felony punishable by life imprisonment is also 1st degree murder.

  • Penalty: Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
  • Parole eligibility: None

2nd Degree Murder (MGL 265, § 1)

An unlawful killing with malice, but without deliberate premeditation or extreme atrocity and cruelty. Murder committed during the commission or attempted commission of a felony not punishable by life imprisonment or death.

  • Penalty: Life imprisonment.
  • Parole eligibility: After 15 years of imprisonment. In reality, parole boards very rarely grant parole to a citizen convicted of 2nd degree murder before he has served 30 years in prison. Given the severity of prison life, few citizens convicted of 2nd degree murder live long enough to emerge from prison the recipient of parole.

Manslaughter (MGL 265, § 13)

Manslaughter is defined by common law, rather than by statute. It has been divided into voluntary manslaughter" and "involuntary manslaughter."

  • Voluntary Manslaughter: Unlawful killing of the victim with the intent to kill, but without malice. The killing is mitigated and, therefore, not done with "malice" if the killing is done (1) the excessive use of force in self-defense (or defense of another), or (2) in the heat of passion caused by either reasonable provocation or sudden combat.
  • Involuntary Manslaughter: A homicide unintentionally caused by the defendant who (1) engaged in wanton and reckless conduct or (2) who committed a misdemeanor assault and battery upon the victim which had a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm would result to the victim.
  • Penalties: imprisonment in the state prison for not more than twenty years or a fine of not more than one thousand dollars and imprisonment in jail or a house of correction for not more than two and a half years or (for those committing manslaughter while violating MGL 266, § 101 to § 102B (having to do with the use of explosives)) life in state prison or for any term of years.

Assault (MGL 265, § 13A)

Defined by common law, rather than by statute. Any willful attempt or threat to inflict injury upon another while having the present ability to accomplish the same or any intentional display of force that would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm. No actually touching is required.

  • Penalties: under MGL 265, § 13A: punished by: imprisonment in the house of corrections for not more than 2 1/2 years or by a fine of not more than $500.

Assault & Battery (G.L. c. 265, § 13A)

Any unlawful, intentional use of force against the person of another.

  • Penalties: imprisonment in the house of corrections for not more than 2 1/2 years or by a fine of not more than $500.

Poisoning (G.L. c. 265, § 28)

Considered a type of assault & battery, includes mingling poison with food, drink or medicine or wilfully poisoning any spring, well or reservoir.

  • Penalties: imprisonment in the state prison for life or for any term of years.

Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon (G.L. c. 265, § 15B)

An assault & battery is accomplished with anything that could be construed as a "dangerous weapon." In determining whether an object qualifies as a "dangerous weapon" Courts consider (1) the size and shape of the object, (2) the manner in which its used, and (3) whether the object was used to provoke fear. Almost anything could qualify as a dangerous weapon (gun, knife, shod foot, teeth, hammer, baseball bat, door, bureau, cigarette, German shepherd, etc.)

  • Penalties: imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years or by a fine of not more than $1000 or by imprisonment in jail or the house of correction for not more than more than 2 1/2 years.

Mayhem (G.L. c. 265, § 14)

Aggravated form of assault & battery in which the defendant intentionally disfigures the victim (cutting a tongue, tearing off nose, lip or limb, gouges out eyeball, etc.).

  • Penalties: imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 20 years or by a fine of not more than $1000 or imprisonment in jail for not more than 2 1/2 years.