According to the Newburyport News Cody Harkness of Amesbury, Massachusetts is being charged with Unarmed Burglary, Home Invasion, Malicious Destruction to Property Valued at More Than $250 and Breaking and Entering. The victim is a downstairs neighbor who was sleeping when Harkness broke into her home. Apparently the defendant opened a door in a common area of the home that led to the victim’s closet. From there he entered her room and touched her body. The victim woke up and yelled. Harkness left. Harkness, who had not been identified by the victim at that point asked her what had happened. She in turn told the police that he might have information about the intruder. The police contacted Harkness and noticed that he had in his possession that the victim said the suspect was wearing. Other evidence suggested to the officers that Harkness had in fact committed the crime. He eventually admitted involvement. The charges are now pending in the Newburyport District Court. Bail was set at two thousand five hundred dollars.
This article is somewhat confusing as to what the actual charges are that Harkness is facing. The headline states Home Invasion. Home Invasion in Massachusetts is criminalized under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 18(c). It is a felony and a conviction carries with it a mandatory twenty year state prison sentence with a maximum life possibility. The Newburyport District Court does not have jurisdiction of this crime and I would imagine that the district attorney’s office will use its discretion and reduced the charges to something within the district court’s jurisdiction. Additionally, if the article is correct it might be difficult for the prosecution to prove a couple of necessary elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution must prove that Harkness was armed with a dangerous weapon. There is no indication that he was. Also, the prosecution must prove use of force or the threat of the imminent use of force. None of that seems to be present her. The body of the article, as opposed to the headline states that unarmed burglary is the charge here. The statute addressing that crime is G.L. c. 266 Section 15. There is a requirement that the district attorney prove however that in addition to the breaking and entering, that Harkness intended to commit a felony while inside the victim’s home. There is no evidence supporting that element. This crime also must be prosecuted in the Superior Court so again I believe that there will be a modification of charges so that the district court can keep jurisdiction of the case.
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