Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Five Potential Defenses to Murder Charges in Massachusetts

A man in Brockton faces murder charges after law enforcement alleges that he fatally stabbed his roommate to death. The charges come after police responded to a reported altercation in the area and found an unresponsive man who had multiple stab wounds. The victim was then taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The man’s roommate is scheduled to be arraigned on a murder charge in Brockton District Court.  

One of the most common questions that people have about murder charges is if they will have defenses available to them. In reality, there are two types of defenses to murder charges — admissions and assertions. Assertions refer to defenses in which a person states that he or she did not commit the murder. Assertions, however, are defenses in which a person states that he or she committed the crime but that the offense was either not intentional or preventable. 

The following are some of the most common defenses people raise in response to murder charges. 

  • Inability to Form the Required Intent: The inability to form the necessary deliberate intent as the result of an issue or intoxication can make a person incapable of committig murder. 

  • Accident or Misfortune: A death that occurs accidentally is not classified as a murder. Unfortunately, many fatalities occur as the result of misfortune or bad luck rather than any intentional actions of another person. In these cases, murder charges are often reduced to manslaughter. 

  • The Insanity Defense: A person in Massachusetts is not viewed as guilty if that individual lacked the criminal intent to commit a crime. After a person raises the defense of insanity, the prosecution must then establish beyond a reasonable doubt that individual committed the murder and was sane at the time that he or she did so. In Massachusetts, a person is considered to lack the criminal responsibility to commit a murder if that individual suffers either a mental disease or defect and either is substantially unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his act or is substantially unable to conform his or her conduct to the law.

  • Mistaken Identity: If a person is wrongfully accused of murder, that individual can raise a defense of mistaken identity. This defense often requires a person to successfully establish that he or she was not at the place where the murder occurred at the time that it occurred.

  • Self-Defense or Defense of Another: Defending yourself or someone else is one way to defend against murder charges. In these situations, a person must establish that he or she was in immediate danger of death or great bodily harm and as a result acted in such a defensive manner. 

Obtain the Assistance of a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer

Being convicted and sometimes even charged with a crime in Massachusetts can lead to serious complications. A skilled attorney, however, can help you respond to these charges. Do not hesitate to obtain the assistance of attorney Edward R. Molari.