Why intention matters in cases involving property crimes

On behalf of Brian D. Roman, Attorney at Law on Thursday, June 18, 2015.

Our criminal justice system is largely based on the idea of retribution. Put simply, law enforcement and prosecutors are tasked with seeing that a punishment is exacted from a person convicted of a crime based on their level of culpability. That's why understanding a person's intentions when committing a crime is so important. Our society wants to make sure that a person who inadvertently or accidentally commits a crime is not punished as severely as one who acted with a purpose or some form of malice.

Many property crimes provide good examples for the concept of retribution in the criminal justice system. For example, most people would agree that children standing on freeway overpass and randomly throwing rocks down into traffic are engaging in a willful and wanton act of destruction. However, it may be more difficult to establish that those children are behaving maliciously unless they are purposely targeting vehicles as they pass by.

Frequent readers of our online blog may remember a previous article we wrote that provides an example of why establishing intent is so important in property crimes cases. In that article, we discussed how a Springfield, Massachusetts, man inadvertently caused a gas leak while trying to steal copper pipe from a home. While it may be true that the man engaged in a willful act of property destruction, it is doubtful that he intended for his actions to cause an explosion or otherwise force the evacuation of the entire neighborhood.

If you are currently facing property crimes in Massachusetts, there are several reasons why this can be important for you. An attorney representing you can argue that your intentions during an alleged crime do not merit severe punishment. Additionally, an attorney may offer an explanation as to how the actions of others may have influenced your actions. Perhaps the bad actions of another party provided the inspiration for your alleged property crime. That intention may seem more reasonable when viewed from that perspective.

Based in North Attleboro, our law firm's principal attorney is also a former prosecutor. With more than 20 years of legal experience, he knows how to provide clients with forceful advocacy in their property crimes defenses. Prospective clients should know that our law firm values keeping the information regarding their cases confidential. We also do not charge fees for initial case evaluations.