Assault with Intent to Murder

The Crime of Assault with Intent to Murder in Massachusetts

The district attorney has to prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt before a defendant can be convicted of assault with intent to murder:

  1. The defendant committed an assault. An assault is a use of force or a threat that causes someone to have a reasonable fear of looming harmful contact. The district attorney is not required to prove that the defendant possessed a dangerous weapon to satisfy this element.

  2. The defendant had an intent to kill. This means that the defendant determined that he would kill, and that his goal was to kill. It doesn’t matter how briefly the defendant thought about it. Often times, there is no direct evidence of the defendant’s specific intent. It can, however, be inferred from the facts or circumstances of the particular case.

  3. The defendant acted with malice. In the context of assault with intent to murder, “malice” means that there was no justification, excuse or mitigation for the defendant’s actions. If the second element, intent to kill, is proved, then this element is also proved if there is no justification, excuse or mitigation. A justification or excuse makes otherwise criminal conduct non-criminal. One justification would be protecting oneself or a third party. Mitigation deals with the weaknesses of human nature in certain circumstances. Examples of mitigating factors include use of excessive force in self-defense or heat of passion produced by reasonable provocation. Mental incapacity or frailty due to mental illness can reduce an assault with intent to murder to an assault with intent to kill, a lesser included offense of this crime. Absence of a mitigating circumstance is what makes assault with intent to murder more serious than assault with intent to kill.

The statute that makes assault with intent to murder a crime is Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 15. This crime is punishable by up to 10 years in state prison.

Can Someone Be Charged with Assault with Intent to Murder Even If No Weapon Was Involved?

As outlined above, the District Attorney can charge someone with assault with intent to murder even if the person did not use any weapon at all or did not use what is traditionally thought of as a weapon, i.e. a gun or a knife. A car or other type of vehicle could be a “dangerous weapon,” depending on the circumstances. A defendant could face this charge if he or she tried to run down another person with a car. This charge is sometimes lodged in a situation in which a suspect is accused of trying to escape from the police when he or she is in the car and the police officer is struck.

If there is an added element of “armed” then the charge is armed assault with intent to murder. This offense is also a felony, however, there is a potential for a more severe penalty. If the District Attorney secures a conviction for this charge, then a defendant can be sentenced to up to twenty years in state prison.

If you have been charged with assault with intent to murder or any other crime, call the Law Offices of Kathleen M. McCarthy at (978) 975-8060 or contact her online as soon as possible. Through practicing criminal law in Massachusetts for more than twenty years, Attorney McCarthy has gained experience and proficiency. Her extensive history of success is proof of her abilities, and she puts up a strong fight for each of her clients.