Assault and Battery (A&B) and Aggravated A&B
Massachusetts Assault and Battery (A&B)
In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 13A, the charge of assault or assault and battery carries up to 2 years in jail and a $1,000 fine.
While the potential penalties are the same, assault does not require evidence that you actually made contact with the alleged victim, whereas an assault and battery does require some form of contact. An assault occurs if you commit an act which reasonably places another person in imminent apprehension or fear of either harmful or offensive contact. For example, balling up your fist and raising it in the air as if to hit another person would be an assault, even if you did not actually hit that person. If you did in fact strike the person, then you committed an assault and battery. An attempted battery is also an assault. For example, if you throw a shoe at another person intending to hit him/ her, but you miss, that is an assault. If the shoe strikes the other person, then you've committed an assault and battery.
Unless the alleged assault and battery took place in the presence of a police officer, you cannot be arrested for this offense and are entitled to a clerk’s hearing before any formal charges can be filed against you (except in cases involving allegations of domestic violence). A clerk’s hearing is a great opportunity for your attorney to elicit statements from the alleged victim who is making the claim against you, which can be used later if the victim changes details of his/ her story. If charges are filed, these cases very often rest solely on the testimony of the alleged victim, or complaining witness. If the complaining witness has a long criminal record, a jury might have a tough time believing he/ she was just an “innocent” victim. These cases require a thorough investigation and legal analysis. Do not discuss your case with law enforcement officials before first speaking to a skilled criminal defense attorney.
Assault and Battery on a Family or Household member
Domestic assault and battery cases are also charged under their own statute, M.G.L. c. 265 s. 13M, and these cases can often become very complicated, very quickly. You may be charged under this statute if you and the alleged victim are or were, at some point, in one of the following "special relationships": Related by blood or marriage; living together; dating; have a child together. If charged with a domestic assault or domestic assault and battery, DO NOT go to court with the alleged victim and try to have the case dropped without being represented by a lawyer. The district attorneys in Massachusetts WILL NOT drop domestic assault and battery cases, and by speaking to them at all, you will likely incriminate yourself. It is not the victim's choice whether or not to pursue charges- it is the district attorney's office that will prosecute you. A charge of domestic assault and battery may be proven even without the victim's testimony, if there is other evidence to substantiate the charge. Additionally, unlike with an ordinary assault and battery, the police are not required to summons you to a clerk's hearing, even if they did not personally witness the incident- the law provides them the power to arrest you on the spot for any domestic dispute. If you are accused of domestic assault or domestic assault and battery, it is paramount that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to navigate the criminal process for you, and to make sure that your rights are protected. At Urbelis Law, we have the experience, investigation team, and resources to provide the best defense possible, as is demonstrated by our record of success.
Massachusetts Assault and Battery on a Public Employee
In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 13D, Assault and Battery on a Public Employee carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail and $500 fine, up to a possible 2 ½ years in jail and $5,000 fine. The defense of this charge is very often fact-based. First, the prosecution must prove that at the time you allegedly commit the assault and battery, the “victim” was a public employee who was then engaged in the performance of his or her official duties at that time. So if the public employee was off-duty, or was otherwise not specifically performing a duty as part of his or her job, then you cannot be convicted under this particular charge.
This charge usually arises in the case of assault and battery on a police officer. While an officer can use justifiable force when necessary, such as when making an arrest, once he/she employs excessive force you have the right to use reasonable force as becomes necessary to protect yourself. These cases often come down to your word against that of the officer. It is important that you contact a skilled criminal defense attorney who can employ all investigative and legal techniques to reach the best possible outcome and avoid the mandatory jail time that comes with a conviction. We have been highly successful at defending these cases and keeping our clients out of jail.
Massachusetts Assault and Battery Causing Serious Bodily InjuryIn Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 13A, assault and battery that causes serious bodily injury is a felony that carries up to 5 years in state prison and $5,000 fine.
- results in permanent disfigurement
- results in loss or impairment of a bodily function, limb, or organ
- results in substantial risk of death
Thus, serious bodily injury is to be taken literally. It is not uncommon for the police to charge someone under this statute any time the victim is hospitalized. However, there must be more than just injury, pain, and suffering in order for you to be found guilty of this offense, as opposed to just simple assault and battery. Medical records, and often expert testimony, become very important in a case that involves this aggravated charge. If you could potentially be facing this or any charge, is important that you contact a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately to protect your rights.
Massachusetts Assault and Battery on a Pregnant Woman
In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 13A, the charge of assault and battery on a pregnant woman is a felony that carries up to 5 years in state prison and $5,000 fine. However, in order to be convicted of this offense, the prosecution must prove that you either knew, or had reason to know, that the victim was pregnant at the time of the assault and battery.
Massachusetts Assault and Battery on a Mentally Retarded Person
In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 13F, it is a separate criminal offense to commit an assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability, knowing that the person has such disability. This is a felony that carries up to 5 years in state prison for a first offense, and up to 10 years in state prison for a second offense. A complete defense to this felony charge is not knowing that the victim of the assault and battery had an intellectual disability. Of course, you could still be charged with misdemeanor assault and battery if the elements of that offense are still present. It is important to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney to fully evaluate all police reports, statements, and investigate all potential defenses.
Massachusetts Assault and Battery on a Child Under 14
In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 13J, assault and battery on a child under 14 years old causing bodily injury is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in state prison. Unlike the felony under s. 13A for "serious bodily injury," this statute does not require the prosecution to prove permanent damage or substantial risk of death to the victim. Any real physical harm to the body of the child victim satisfies the element of "bodily injury." However, a causal link must still be proven between the action of the accused, and the bodily injury sustained by the child. For example, if the police report indicates that the accused grabbed the child's upper arm, and a bruise thereafter developed on the child's hand... then the bruise could not likely be attributed to the grabbing of the upper arm. It is important for a skilled defense attorney to examine all evidence, and all potential defenses to this felony charge.
Massachusetts Assault and Battery on a Child Under 14 Causing Serious Bodily Injury
In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 13J, assault and battery on a child under 14 causing serious bodily injury is a felony that carries up to 15 years in state prison. In order to be convicted of this offense, the prosecution must prove that you:
- committed an assault and battery
- on a child under 14
- causing substantial bodily injury
Assault and Battery on a Family or Household member
A new law, M.G.L. c. 265 s. 13m, was specifically enacted to address the important issue of domestic violence in Massachusetts. While the elements of Assault and Battery are required, an additional element that the alleged victim was a "family or household member" is an additional element required for prosecution under this statute. The law under this section defines "family or household member" as any of the following relationships between the defendant and alleged victim:
(a) married to each other or were married to each other within the 5 years preceding the date of the alleged offense
(b) are residing together in the same household or were residing together in the same household within the 5 years preceding the date of the alleged offense
(c) are related by blood
(d) have a child in common; or
(e) are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship within the 5 years preceding the date of the alleged offense.
The penalty for this offense is up to 2 years in jail and $5,000.00. However, an additional REQUIREMENT under this new law is that anyone convicted, or placed on probation for this offense by way of a CWOF, shall undergo the certified batterer's intervention program, unless there is a specific written finding by the Court as to why such a program would be inappropriate; in reality, court's do not generally make such a finding, so for all practical purposes it's a requirement. This is a VERY demanding program, generally requiring a 40 week commitment.
In addition to the batterer's program requirement, one of the significant caveats to this new law is that second charge under this statute is now a FELONY, and the defendant faces up to five years in state prison if convicted.