Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Three Ways to Defend Against Assault With a Deadly Weapon Charges in Massachusetts

North Adams law enforcement recently arrested a man following a shooting that occurred on State Street. Law enforcement discovered bullets from a 9 mm gun that had penetrated the walls of an apartment building. Fortunately, no one was injured in the shooting.  

Later, after law enforcement executed a search warrant at a home, a man was arrested and charged with firearms offenses. Law enforcement now believes the man became agitated after a former girlfriend called the police to report that the man was trying to break into her apartment. Later, after responding to State Street following a call, law enforcement was told that the man had tried to break down the door of the woman’s third-floor apartment after the two argued. 

The victim stated that the man pounded on her door, which was captured on surveillance footage. At this point, the man shot six times into a vacant second-floor apartment and broke a sliding glass door. Witnesses provided the police with a description of the vehicle involved, which led to the police issuing a bulletin. Soon after, police identified a vehicle matching the description and stopped the car.  

The man who fired the weapon was held by police and arraigned at North Berkshire District Court on several charges including discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, attempting to commit a crime, and assault with a dangerous weapon. The man was also booked on two outstanding warrants.

As we have previously discussed, being charged with a deadly weapon offense in Massachusetts carries with it some harsh penalties. If you are facing an assault with a deadly weapon, you understandably should appreciate some of the strongest strategies to defend against these charges. 

# 1 and # 2 - Your Offense Does Not Satisfy the Act’s Requirements

Assault with a deadly weapon in Massachusetts adds an extra element to the offense of assault. To be convicted of the offense, the prosecution must establish each of the following elements:

  • Intent to place the subject into fear of immediate battery. 

  • Some type of behavior toward the subject that reasonably could have been viewed as imminently threatening battery.  This act can include a variety of behaviors, but if no action places the subject in fear, then the charge will not stand. 

  • Use of a dangerous weapon. Other than firearms, a “deadly weapon” can include any item that if used in a certain way can cause serious harm. 

If evidence cannot be shown to establish even one of these elements, the prosecution will not be able to successfully argue a charge against you. 

# 3 - You Were Acting in Self Defense

If you have an honest and reasonable belief that you will suffer great bodily harm or that another person will, you are justified in using a reasonably necessary degree of force to repel the other actor. For example, shooting someone with a submachine gun who was not wielding a firearm would likely not be a reasonably necessary degree of force. If you can establish self-defense, you have a valid defense to the charge of assault with a deadly weapon. 

Obtain the Assistance of a Firearm Defense Lawyer

To keep the residents of the state safe, Massachusetts prosecution takes firearm-related offenses seriously. If you or a loved one is charged with a firearm offense in Massachusetts, one of the first steps that you should take is to obtain the services of a compassionate criminal defense lawyer. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today for assistance.