Massachusetts Appeals Court Defines Joint Venture In Context Of Sex Crimes

In Commonwealth v. Parreira, slip opinion August 4, 2008 the Massachusetts Appeals Court clarified joint venture and its application to sex crimes.  In Parreira, the defendant and another met up with two fifteen year old girls and agreed to get together the next day.  The girls wanted the older boys to buy them alcohol so that they could get drunk on Halloween.  The girls achieved their objective and after consuming some drinks ended up in a vacant apartment with the defendants.  One of the girls had been to the apartment before to attend parties. 

Eventually the two girls ended up in separate rooms in the apartment.  One ened up with the defendant and another with his friend.  One of the girls testified that the defendant penetrated her without consent after which he went into the other room where his friend was purportedly violating the other girl.  When he entered that room the girl got up and got dressed and rejoined her friend.  A jury convicted the defendant of being a joint venturer with his friend as to the lesser included offense of statutory rape of the other girl. 

To be convicted of being a joint venturer in Massachusetts the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was present at the scene with the knowledge that another intended to commit a crime or with the intent to commit a crime and that by agreement was available and willing to assist the other if necessary.  As to sex crimes, there is a requirement that to be found guilty as a joint venturer there must be a common victim.  The defendant must also be present at the crime scene and either provide assistance or facilitate the crime for another.  Examples of this are driving the victim to her attacker and guarding the door while the act is being committed. 

In Parreira the Appeals Court concluded that the defendant’s act of entering the room while his friend was violating another girl was insufficient to constitute culpability as a joint venturer.

If you are in need of an experienced Massachusetts Sex Crimes Defense Attorney contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman.  Convictions for sex offenses in Massachusetts can result in a prison sentence.  A sexually dangerous person proceeding can also be initiated against you and you will have to register as a sex offender. 

Related Web Resources:

Massachusetts Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers

Massachusetts Rape Statute G.L. c. 265 sec. 22

Massachusetts Statutory Rape Statute G.L. c. 265 sec. 22A

Massachusetts Sexual Offender Registry Board SORB, G.L. c. 6 sec. 178C-178P