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Brockton Massachusetts Woman Charged With Stabbing Using Self-Defense Claim

The Brockton Enterprise reports that Nichole Powell, a thirty seven year old Brockton, Massachusetts woman is claiming that she acted in self-defense in relation to a stabbing incident alleged to have recently occurred. Powell has been charged with Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon. The alleged victim in this case is the defendant’s former roommate. Powell claims that the woman along with nine other people arrived at her apartment supposedly to recover some of her belongings. The roommate then tried to break through the door. Prosecutors say that upon arrival Powell’s son hit the woman in the face and Powell followed up by stabbing her several times. Powell denies those allegations and identifies the former roommate as the initial aggressor. The case is pending in the Brockton District Court.

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From the perspective of a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer two thoughts immediately come to mind when reading this article. The first is obvious. Did Powell act in self-defense. The law in Massachusetts is clear on this issue. People are allowed to use a certain amount of force to defend themselves from an attack. The question of whether or not self-defense occurred in a particular case is for the judge or jury to decide after weighing the evidence adduced at trial. The issue becomes live when the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the defendant raises this issue. A person in Massachusetts is permitted to use reasonable force necessary to defend himself from a physical attack. To overcome this defense the district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense. The use of a dangerous weapon changes the analysis somewhat. To avail oneself of self-defense with the use of a dangerous weapon the accused must have reasonable ground to believe that death or seriously injury was imminent. Thus, here Powell would have to reasonably believe that she was about to be attacked and that she was in an immediate danger of being seriously injured or killed. Was this reasonable here? Quite possibly. Powell was at her own home. The former roommate tried to break in. She was accompanied by nine other people. This might be the type of case where a jury or judge would believe that Powell acted in accordance with the law.

Here is the second thought I had when reading this article. Massachusetts has a law commonly know as the “Castle Law”. It is codified in Massachusetts by G.L. c. 278 Section 8A. The law states that any occupant of a dwelling charged with killing or injuring someone unlawfully in the dwelling can set forth as a defense that he or she “acted in the reasonable belief that the person unlawfully in said dwelling was about to inflict great bodily injury or death upon said occupant or upon another person lawfully in said dwelling”. The accused is required to use reasonable means to defend himself and there is no duty to retreat. The circumstances of this case might implicate this defense.


The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, PC is constantly involved in defending cases like this one. We have successfully defended self-defense cases and cases embracing the Massachusetts Castle Law. If you are in trouble you should call us. We are always available at 617-263-6800 or by email.