The Crime of Attempted Murder in Massachusetts

What Is Attempted Murder in Massachusetts?

To convict a defendant of attempted murder, the district attorney prosecuting the case must prove that the defendant took a real step toward carrying out murder and came dangerously close to completing the murder. He must prove that the defendant’s conduct reached the level of an overt act. An overt act is a physical action that a person could reasonably expect to generate a chain of events that would result in the crime unless some external fact or event interferes. In the context of attempted murder, the act must be one designed to result in death and committed with the specific intent that death result. Preparation or solicitation is not enough to constitute an overt act. To be convicted of attempted murder, the gap between the defendant’s action and the completion of the crime must be much narrower. In these cases, how small or large that gap is will be determined by the unique facts and circumstances.

Criminal attempts, including attempted murder, are crimes in which guilt depends on the defendant’s intentions. The district attorney must prove that the defendant both (1) harbored a specific intent to kill and (2) acted with malice. “Malice” in attempted murder cases means only that there was no excuse, mitigation or justification. An excuse or justification is something that makes otherwise unlawful conduct lawful. A common example of an excuse or justification is self-defense. “Mitigation” encompasses a broader range of situations. Mitigation cannot be the basis of acquittal, but it can give reason for a conviction of a lesser-included offense. Mental incapacity can prevent a defendant from forming the malice necessary for an attempted murder conviction.

How Can I Defend Myself from This Type of Charge?

This charge is not frequently used in Massachusetts because it is often difficult for the District Attorney to prove. Sometimes, in the arena of domestic assault cases this charge is utilized when the District Attorney wants a serious felony charge to be lodged against a defendant when there is no other option. For example, in circumstances in which a case may be a simple assault and battery (which is a misdemeanor) and the authorities want to lodge more serious charges against a defendant and a “dangerous weapon” was not involved, they often resort to charging the person with attempted murder. This could be the case in situations in which a defendant is alleged to have choked the complaining witness. In most circumstances, this would be a simple assault and battery. A viable defense on these set of facts is that the defendant did not harbor malice and did not possess the requisite intent.

If you are facing this charge, the circumstances surrounding the incident must be carefully examined. If more than one person has been charged, then an argument can be made that the parties did not have a shared specific intent to commit the crime. Also, as with many crimes, misidentification and witness biases should always be considered as a way to create a reasonable doubt.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 274 Section 6 is the statute governing attempted crimes. Obviously, attempted murder is a very serious charge. If you or a loved one has been charged with attempted murder, retaining an attorney with unmatched expertise and skill is crucial. Kathleen M. McCarthy is such an attorney. McCarthy practices in all criminal trial and appeals courts in the state. Throughout her legal career, McCarthy has concentrated on criminal law in Massachusetts. She knows the ins and outs of every step of the criminal process, and vigorously represents her clients at every stage of legal proceedings. If you have been charged with attempted murder or any other crime, call the Law Offices of Kathleen M. McCarthy at (978) 975-8060 or contact her online today.

Case Results » The Crime Of Attempted Murder In Massachusetts
  • September 1, 2012

    Attorney McCarthy Successfully Secures Harassment Prevention Restraining Order For Fearful Client

    The plaintiff contacted Attorney Kathleen McCarthy 's office inquiring about how to protect herself from a former boyfriend who was incessantly sending her text messages and voice mails. The client was not sure whether to apply for a 209A restraining order or a Harassment Prevention Order pursuant to M.G.L. 258E. After lengthy discussions and reviewing the case, Attorney McCarthy determined that based on the facts, the burden would be met if she applied for a Harassment Prevention Order. Attorney McCarthy accompanied the plaintiff to the hearing and the judge issued a Harassment Prevention Order. The relieved plaintiff left the court with the order in hand.

    If you are looking for a Massachusetts Restraining Order lawyer contact Attorney McCarthy on line or at 978-975-8060. She routinely appears in Boston area court houses including Lawrence, Lowell and Peabody representing plaintiffs and defendants in 209A restraining order hearings and Harassment Prevention hearings.

  • Client Avoids Conviction For Threats To Kill

    According to the police report, a young mother called the police in a panic claming that a male driver [defendant] followed her vehicle, in which she had her two young children. The complaining witness reported that the defendant was beeping the horn to his vehicle while hanging out of the window and yelling. She also alleged that the defendant waved a weapon at her car and threatened to kill her.

    The distraught motorist called the police. After interviewing her, the police approached the client. Prior to retaining defense counsel, the defendant was summonsed for a clerk's hearing. Following the hearing in which the defendant represented himself, a criminal complaint issued for threats to commit a crime to wit to kill.

    The defendant ultimately retained Attorney McCarthy to represent him. Attorney McCarthy investigated the facts surrounding the case and conducted client meetings. Although the client was in his early twenties with no prior record, the District Attorney's Office initially believed that a guilty finding should enter for the defendant. Clearly, a guilty find may have potential consequences for the defendant. Attorney McCarthy engaged in thorough negotiations with the police department and the District Attorney's office and the case was eventually disposed of without a criminal conviction for the defendant. Provided the defendant does not get rearrested and fulfills a few obligations the case will be dismissed. The defendant will not have a criminal conviction on his record.