Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon (ABDW) and Aggravated ABDW

Massachusetts Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon

In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 15A, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is a felony which carries up to 10 years in state prison and $5,000 fine. The term "dangerous weapon" is very broad.  I have seen this charge arise from stabbing someone with a knife, to attempting to hit someone with a car, to throwing a drink in someone's face. The facts and circumstances of each case must be thoroughly investigated. Very often, the prosecution relies solely on the testimony of the alleged victim. If the victim is unavailable or unwilling to testify on the day of trial, there may be grounds for dismissal. However, it is not the alleged victim's decision as to whether or not the case moves forward.  If the prosecution believes that it has a strong enough case without the testimony of the alleged victim, then it will proceed with the testimony of other witnesses, physical evidence, pictures, or any other evidence to prove its case, even if doing so is against the wishes of the person you are accused of harming. Also,  if you are charged with this offense and the court determines that you have tried to prevent one of the witnesses from testifying, or event discussed the case with the alleged victim, you could face an addition charge of witness intimidation. It is important that you not discuss the case with law enforcement, friends, and especially your accuser, without first speaking with a criminal defense attorney. 

Massachusetts Assault with a Dangerous Weapon

In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 15B, assault with a dangerous weapon is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in state prison and $1,000 fine. 

Contrary to what many may believe, assault does not require any contact with the victim. Any action that places the person in imminent apprehension of harmful or offensive contact, or any attempt to make harmful or offensive contact with the person constitutes an assault. Holding up a dangerous weapon towards a person, without ever even making contact with that person, is assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. 

Under this same statute, assault with a dangerous weapon on an elderly person (60 years or older) is punishable by the same penalties. However, a second offense for assault with a dangerous weapon on an elderly person carries aminimum mandatory of 2 years in jail. 

Massachusetts ABDW Causing Serious Bodily Injury 

In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 15A, the felony charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury carries up to 15 years in state prison and $10,000 fine. 

A dangerous weapon can range from a knife, to a car, to a glass, to a foot with a shoe on it (a kick). Any object that may be used as a weapon to inflict serious harm can be considered a "dangerous weapon." 

In order to be convicted under this aggravated subsection of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, the prosecution must prove serious injury in the form of either: 
  • permanent disfigurement; or
  • loss or impairment of a bodily function, limb, or organ; or
  • substantial risk of death
Massachusetts ABDW on a Child Under 14 by a Perpetrator 17 or Older

In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 15A, if you are 17 or older, convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a child under 14, you face up to 15 years in state prison. 

Under this statute, it is NOT a defense that you did not know the victim was under 14 years old. You can still be charged, convicted, and sentenced up to 15 years in state prison. 

The facts and circumstances of the case, along with your criminal record, will determine how aggressively the prosecution pursues this charge against you.  If your lawyer can offer mitigating circumstances, it may be possible to have the charge amended to a lesser offense. Of course, if you did not commit an assault and battery at all, then you are entitled to have the case tried in front of a jury, where the burden of proof is always on the prosecution- you are presumed innocent. In any event, do not speak to any law enforcement officials about your case until you have first consulted with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Massachusetts ABDW on a Pregnant Woman

In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 15A, if you commit an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a pregnant woman, knowing or having reason to now that the woman is pregnant at that time, you face up to 15 years in state prison and $10,000 fine. 

Under this statute, lack of knowledge of the pregnancy may be a defense (although you could still be charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon). Lack of knowledge will not be a defense if you should have known that the woman was pregnant (she was visibly pregnant or other evidence would suggest to a reasonable person that she was pregnant).  You case may be very fact-specific with respect to the "knowledge" element of the offense, so it is important that you not make any statements to law enforcement officials before speaking with a criminal defense attorney. 

Massachusetts ABDW on a Person who has a Valid Restraining Order Against Perpetrator

In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 265 s. 15A, if you have a valid restraining in affect against you, and you commit an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon against the person who has that restraining order issued against you, you face up to 15 years in state prison and $10,000 fine. 

If you are charged with this offense, it is important to have a criminal defense attorney review all police reports and evidence against you at the earliest possible time. It is also important for an attorney to evaluate the order you are accused of violating, to determine its validity, and to determine whether it falls within one of the restraining orders applicable to this statute. 

If you have been charged with Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, or any aggravated form of this charge, you should contact our office immediately: 

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