According to an article in the MetroWest Daily News, a man broke into his brother’s Natick home and stole a bottle of vodka. He also reportedly took his brother’s jacket, along with the car keys in the jacket pocket, and then left in his brother’s car. His brother woke up to find the car gone and reported it stolen. When police showed up at the brother’s house to take the report, the defendant drove by in the car and the police pulled him over and arrested him. Despite what appears to mostly be a lapse in judgment fueled by alcohol, the defendant was charged with: (1) unarmed burglary; (2) larceny of property worth more than $250; (3) using a vehicle without authority; (4) driving with a suspended license; and (5) possession of an open container of liquor while driving. At the arraignment, the prosecutor stated that “whether [the defendant] intended to steal the car or it was just happenstance [wa]s not known.”
While the defendant may face challenges defending some of the misdemeanor offenses, such as use without authority, driving with a suspended license, and possession of an open container, it appears that he has a strong defense to the two felony charges: burglary and larceny over $250. To prove that the defendant is guilty of burglary under G. L. c. 266, § 15, the Commonwealth would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) the defendant broke into the house; (2) entered the house; (3) someone lived in the house; (4) the entry was at night; (5) the defendant entered the house with the intended to commit a felony; (6) he was not armed; and (7) he did not assault any person lawfully in the house. To prove that the defendant is guilty of larceny over $250 under G. L. c. 266, § 30, the Commonwealth would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) the defendant took; (2) the property of another; (3) with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the property; and (4) that monetary value of the property was $250 or more.
Assuming the defendant’s brother chooses to cooperate with the prosecution, the Commonwealth may be able to establish that the defendant entered his brother’s house, took vodka, and took the car. It seems unlikely, however, that the prosecutor will be able to prove that the defendant went into the house with the intent of committing a felony, as is required to prove the charge of burglary. Specifically, other than the burglary charge, larceny over $250 is the only other felony that the defendant is charged with, and therefore presumably the felony that he would have intended to commit upon entering the house. The fact that the defendant drove right by his brother’s house just hours after taking the car, in conjunction with the prosecutor’s acknowledgement that he may not have entered with the intent to steal the vehicle, may prove to be strong arguments against any claim that the defendant entered his brother’s house with the intent to commit a felony. Further, these same facts can be used to argue that the defendant did not have the intent to permanently deprive his brother of the car, as is required to prove the charge of larceny over $250.
Despite the available defenses, the defendant will still need a defense attorney to assess the case, conduct a thorough investigation, and carefully scrutinize the evidence. If you or a loved has been charged with offenses that seem to exceed the scope of what actually happened, you will need a good defense attorney to do the same. Call attorney Daniel Cappetta today for a free consultation.