“Anything You Say, Can, and Will, be Used Against You”
The above phrase is well-known by most Americans. It is part of the Miranda Warnings, a statement that must be given by law enforcement when one is arrested on suspicion of committing a crime. And, as any criminal defense attorney can attest, it is not a threat, but a promise. Criminal trials are full of examples of defendants who thought they could talk their way out of a criminal conviction and, instead, stumbled into one instead. There is an adage that is applicable here: A suspect can talk his/her way into a conviction, but not out of one. What makes talking to law enforcement even more perilous is that providing false information is also a criminal act, thereby subjecting the defendant to another charge. Recently, a Massachusetts man was charged with both homicide and providing false information to authorities when he was questioned regarding his role in the murder of his cousin’s wife and her children. A discussion of homicide in Massachusetts, and what to do if suspected of committing murder, will follow below.
Massachusetts has a number of crimes concerning the killing of another individual. These crimes are distinguished as:
- In the Commonwealth, an individual commits murder when he/she intentionally kills another person with premeditation. Murder can also occur when an individual commits a serious felony and a death occurs (this is known as felony-murder). Finally, murder occurs also where the death was executed with extreme atrocity and cruelty.
- Voluntary manslaughter. Manslaughter, generally, is the killing of a person with another without premeditation. In Massachusetts, voluntary manslaughter occurs when the death is due to provocation. That is, the death occurred as a result of the individual being under stress or duress, such as in the heat of an argument, during mutual fighting or combat, or as the result of a traumatic experience, such as seeing a spouse in bed with another. Voluntary manslaughter is different from murder in that the individual’s actions were disturbed by emotional excitement to a point where another person might also have acted upon impulse.
- Involuntary Manslaughter. In Massachusetts, involuntary manslaughter occurs when an individual unintentionally causes the death of another, when the individual was engaging in some type of reckless conduct or while committing a serious battery upon another person. A type of involuntary manslaughter is motor vehicle homicide, which is when an individual, due to his/her intoxication, operates a vehicle negligently and recklessly, causing the death of another person.
Strategies for Those Suspected of Homicide
If an individual is charged with any of the aforementioned offenses, it is imperative that he/she contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In the meantime, however, it is never advisable to speak to law enforcement. Rather, as one of the other Miranda warnings indicate, a suspect always has the right to remain silent. If the urge to speak cannot be withheld, it is also advisable not to fabricate anything said to law enforcement.
When the suspect meets with his/her attorney, the Commonwealth is not permitted to eavesdrop on the conversation. Thus, the attorney-client privilege is in full force, and the suspect should feel comfortable answering the attorney’s questions to the fullest extent possible. Once represented, a criminal defense attorney can advise the accused about when to speak, and what is safe to say.
Seek Legal Advice
If you have been charged with a crime contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, and, refrain from speaking to law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office, or anyone associated with these entities without an attorney present. Rather, let the attorneys at Leontire & Associates, P.C. speak to law enforcement and the prosecution on your behalf. We have the experience necessary to analyze your circumstances, and will help strategize with you to mitigate any damages you may face. Contact our Boston office today.