Appeals Court (October 11, 2007)

A defendant may be charged and convicted under G.L. c. 265, §18C of multiple counts (one for each victim) of home invasion, even if there is only one unlawful entry, since the purpose of the statute is to protect the assaulted victims.

One evening, the defendant learned that his ex-girlfriend was going on a date with another man. Early the next morning, receiving no response to his prolonged knocking, he entered the woman's home through her living room window. The defendant attacked the woman and, finding a man hiding in her closet, repeatedly hit him in the head with a gun, resulting in one shot grazing the man's head. The defendant was charged and convicted of two counts of home invasion - one for each victim he assaulted.

The defendant appealed, arguing that because the charges were based on a single act of entry, he should have only been charged with one count. The Appeals Court disagreed. Where the intent of the legislature in passing a criminal statute is to protect the safety of individuals, as opposed to one's possessory interest in property, case law holds that the number of victims determines how many charges may be brought. Here, since the home invasion statute is placed within the "Crimes Against the Person" section of the General Laws, as opposed to the "Crimes Against Property" section, it is clear that the statute's purpose is to protect against the assault of persons in the invaded dwelling. Here, two individuals were assaulted and therefore, charging and convicting the defendant with two counts of home invasion was proper.