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The National Trial Lawyers
Greater Lowell Bar Association

Home Invasion

Home invasion is one of the most serious crimes in Massachusetts, and a conviction carries a possible life sentence.

Elements of Home Invasion

In order to convict a defendant of home invasion, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant entered someone else’s dwelling house;
  2. The defendant knew or should have known that at least one person was inside or, alternatively, the defendant stayed inside when he or she knew or should have known that at least one person was present;
  3. The defendant had armed himself or herself with a dangerous weapon at the time of entry into the dwelling house; and
  4. The defendant either used force or threatened to use imminent force on at least one person who was inside the dwelling house or, alternatively, the defendant intentionally injured a person who was inside.

A dangerous weapon is an object that is capable of causing or death or substantial injury. An object that is ordinarily used for innocent purposes becomes a dangerous weapon when it is intentionally used in a dangerous or potentially dangerous fashion. For example, a lit cigarette is a dangerous weapon when it is used to burn someone and a sharpened pencil is a dangerous weapon when it is thrown at someone’s eyes.

A dwelling house is any place that people live. Dwelling houses include single family homes, apartments, duplexes, hotels, dormitories, and tenement buildings.

Common Defense Strategies

Home invasion charges are defended in multiple ways.

  • Identification - In the event that the alleged victim does not know the defendant, there will likely be an identification issue. A home invasion is obviously a stressful and hectic incident. It makes sense that an alleged victim might misidentify the defendant. Attorney Spring aggressively cross-examines all eyewitnesses in these types of cases.
  • Defendant’s Knowledge - The Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew or should have known about the presence of people inside the home. Proving that a defendant simply broke into a home with the intent to commit a crime is insufficient to sustain a conviction for home invasion.
  • Alleged Victim’s Criminal Record - Oftentimes the alleged victim of a home invasion will have his own problems with the criminal justice system.  Attorney Spring will find out of the alleged victim has a criminal record.  If an alleged victim has been convicted of a crime during the past 10 years, Attorney Spring may be able to tell the jury about that criminal history.
  • Bias - If a homeowner is claiming to be the victim of a home invasion, he will want to see the defendant found guilty and punished.  When the alleged victim testifies at trial, Attorney Spring will have the opportunity to cross-examine him.  During the cross-examination, Attorney Spring will aggressively confront the alleged victim about his desire to see the defendant convicted.  Attorney Spring will then argue to the jury that a witness who wants to see the defendant convicted cannot necessarily be trusted to tell the truth.

Home invasions are violent confrontations.  The homeowner almost always fights back when an intruder enters his home.  If the homeowner pushes, strikes, or kicks the home invader at any point during the altercation, then the homeowner has a Fifth Amendment Privilege and can refuse to testify at trial.  The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that no witness, including the alleged victim in a home invasion case, can be forced to testify if his truthful testimony might cause him to be charged with a crime.  Therefore, physically fighting back against a home invader will allow the homeowner to refuse to testify at trial if he wishes.

There are only a few charges in Massachusetts that are more serious than home invasion.  If you are charged with this crime, you should hire an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney to represent you.  You should call Attorney Chris Spring.

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