Assault With Intent to Murder or Kill
Assault with Intent to Murder or Kill is a serious crime that carries the possibility of prison time.Elements of Assault with Intent to Murder or Kill
In order to convict a defendant of assault with intent to murder or kill, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:
- Assaulted a person; and
- The defendant possessed a specific or actual intent to cause the death of the person assaulted.
First, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant committed an assault. The elements of assault are that:
- the defendant attempted to commit an assault and battery; or
- the defendant attempted to place the alleged victim in fear of an assault and battery and engaged in some conduct which the alleged victim reasonably perceived as imminently threatening an assault and battery.
If the Commonwealth proves that the defendant assaulted the alleged victim, it then must prove that the defendant intended to kill the alleged victim. Absent a statement from the defendant about his or her motive, the defendant’s intent is very difficult for the Commonwealth to prove.
All of the Common Defenses and Defense Strategies for simple assault are available in assault with intent to murder or kill cases. Assault cases can be defended in a variety of ways.
- Accident - The Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to commit an assault. If the defendant accidentally placed somebody in fear of being the victim of an assault and battery, he or she is not guilty of assault. An “accident” is defined as an unexpected happening that occurs without intention or design on the defendant’s part. It is a sudden, unexpected event that takes place without the defendant’s intending it.
- Self-Defense - A defendant is permitted to use reasonable force to defend himself or herself. If the defendant (1) reasonably believed he or she was being attacked or was about to be attacked and his or her personal safety was in immediate danger; (2) made every reasonable effort to avoid physical combat before resorting to force; and (3) used no more force than was reasonably necessary in the circumstances, then the defendant must be found not guilty of assault. There is a very similar defense of another person privilege.
- Alleged Victim’s Criminal Record -If the alleged victim has a criminal record or a history of violence, Attorney Spring will attempt to present this information to the jury. Criminal convictions are generally admissible within a certain time frame (convictions for misdemeanors within the last five years are admissible; convictions for felonies within the last 10 years are admissible). History of violence evidence (also called “prior bad act” evidence) is generally admissible if the defendant is asserting self-defense. Attorney Spring has extensive experience litigating these types of issues.
- Bias - In most assault cases that go to trial, there is bad blood between the defendant and the alleged victim. The alleged victim ordinarily wants to see the defendant convicted and punished. The alleged victim’s desire for revenge will be fully exposed on cross-examination.
Assault in the Marriage - Many assault cases involve disputes between people who are married. In Massachusetts, the Commonwealth cannot force an individual to testify against his or her spouse. Therefore, if the alleged victim is married to the defendant and chooses not to testify, the Commonwealth will need to dismiss the case unless it can be proven without the alleged victim. Attorney Spring will aggressively attempt to persuade prosecutors to dismiss these types of cases.
Even if the alleged victim is not married to the defendant, the alleged victim’s feelings about the case will be very important to the prosecutor. You need to have an attorney who can present the alleged victim’s feelings to the prosecutor and forcefully argue that the case should be dismissed.
Some alleged victims can refuse to testify because they have a Fifth Amendment Privilege. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that no person can be forced to offer testimony that might incriminate himself or herself in a crime. Therefore, if an alleged victim struck the defendant during the incident or if the alleged victim lied to the police about the facts of the case, that witness can assert his or her Fifth Amendment privilege and refuse to testify against the defendant.
Given the serious consequences of a conviction for assault with intent to murder or kill, it is essential that you have an attorney who is experienced in trying these types of cases. Attorney Spring has the necessary experience to aggressively defend your case.