Assault With Intent to Murder or Kill
Assault with Intent to Murder or Kill is a serious crime and a conviction will likely result in 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
- Possessed a specific or actual intent to cause the death of the person assaulted.
First, the Commonwealth must prove 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 participated in behavior that the alleged victim reasonably perceived as being an imminent threat of an assault and battery.
If the Commonwealth proves 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 often 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 assistant district attorney is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant purposely committed an assault. If the defendant didn't intend for the alleged victim to believe she was about to be assaulted, then the defendant cannot be convicted. An “accident” is an event that was not expected and not intended or planned by the defendant.
- Self-Defense - Anybody who is at risk of being physically attacked may use reasonable force to defend himself. When self-defense is asserted at trial, the assistant district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt one of the following things: (1) the defendant did not reasonably believe he was the victim of an attack or was about to be the victim of an attack; or (2) the defendant failed to make every reasonable effort to escape the situation without using physical force; or (3) the defendant used excessive force. If the prosecutor does not prove one of these things beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant must be found not guilty. There is a similar privilege for everybody to defend another person.
- Alleged Victim’s Criminal Record - While it is generally impermissible to introduce evidence to establish the alleged victim is a bad person, there are some situations where a defense attorney can introduce an alleged victim's prior criminal convictions at trial. If the alleged victim has a history of acting violently in the past (toward the defendant or any other person), that evidence is also sometimes admissible as a “prior bad act.”
- Bias - There are almost no cases where an alleged victim of a violent assault is friendly with the defendant. Attorney Spring will force the alleged victim to testify about the existence of bad blood and then argue to the jury that the alleged victim's testimony was improperly influenced by the bad feelings.
Assault in the Marriage - Many cases involving allegations of violence exist between people who are married. The marital privilege prevents spouses from being compelled to testify against each other in most circumstances in Massachusetts. If the alleged victim is married to the defendant, she may choose not to testify and the assistant district attorney will be forced to dismiss the case unless there is independent evidence to establish the defendant's guilt.
Some alleged victims have a right to refuse to testify because their own misconduct would potentially result in criminal charges of their own. The Fifth Amendment to the Federal Constitution prohibits an assistant district attorney from forcing a witness, including an alleged victim, to offer incriminating evidence against himself. In these types of cases, if the alleged victim fought back against the defendant, or lied to the police about what happened, then the alleged victim cannot be forced to testify at the defendant's trial.
Given the severe consequences resulting from a conviction for assault with intent to murder or kill, it is crucial that you have an attorney who is experienced in litigating these types of cases. Attorney Chris Spring has litigated violent criminal cases his entire career and is prepared to aggressively defend you.