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Abuse-Related Offenses

Boston Lawyer Protecting the Rights of Criminal Defendants

Massachusetts has two significant abuse laws: Abuse Prevention (G.L. 209A) and Harassment Prevention (G.L. 258E). Both of these laws are designed to protect victims of abuse, but only the former requires you to have a specific close relationship with the alleged victim. When you have a specific close relationship, such as a spousal relationship or a dating relationship with someone who claims that you abused them, you can be charged with a domestic violence crime. However, you can also be charged with abuse-related offenses with regard to someone with whom you do not have an intimate relationship. At the Law Office of Patrick Murphy, our experienced Boston criminal defense attorney can look at all of the facts associated with an abuse-related offense and determine what a strong defense strategy would be.

Abuse-Related Offenses May Lead to Significant Penalties

Abuse-related offenses are common in Massachusetts. Sometimes the abuse itself is at issue, while in other cases, someone is alleged to have violated a restraining order, such as an abuse prevention order or a harassment prevention order. Sometimes these orders are violated unwittingly. People who claim that they are victims are often assisted by advocates and coached to give a victim impact statement to the court. These can result in harsh sentences against defendants, making it especially important that a defendant consult their own attorney.

Abuse-related offenses include annoying and accosting someone of the opposite sex, criminal harassment, making harassing or obscene telephone calls, stalking, civil rights violations, threats to commit a crime, violations of an abuse prevention order, and violations of a harassment prevention order. Each of these offenses requires the prosecution to prove the elements of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

For example, annoying someone of the opposite sex with offensive and disorderly actions or language can be punished under section 53 of Chapter 272 of the Massachusetts General Laws. The prosecution will need to establish that the defendant knowingly engaged in disorderly words or acts, and a reasonable person would find the acts offensive. The defendant also must have intended to direct the words or acts toward the alleged victim, the alleged victim must have been aware of the words or acts, and the alleged victim must have been of the opposite sex to the defendant. Acts or words are considered disorderly when they involve violence, fighting, threats, or an invasion of privacy. If convicted, you face the possibility of imprisonment in a house of correction or jail for up to six months, a fine of up to $200, or both.

Another abuse-related offense is harassing or obscene phone calls, which are prohibited under M.G.L. ch. 269 s. 14A. This law covers someone who calls or contacts another person through an electronic communication or causes that person to be called or contacted over and over again for the purpose of molesting, annoying, or harassing that person or their family. A defendant can be charged with making harassing calls or communications, or a defendant can be charged with making repeated, obscene calls or communications. It does not matter whether there is actually a conversation for the first type of harassing call. For the second type of harassing call, the prosecution must show that the language was obscene and that the defendant knew the general nature of what they were saying. If convicted, you face the possibility of up to three months in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.

Stalking is another serious abuse-related offense that carries stiff penalties. To establish stalking, the prosecution needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • The defendant was knowingly involved in a series of actions involving at least three incidents directed at an alleged victim over a particular time period;
  • The series of actions would cause someone to feel substantial emotional distress;
  • The actions actually did cause serious alarm or annoyance to the alleged victim;
  • The defendant acted willfully and maliciously; and
  • The defendant made the threat with the intent of making the alleged victim immediately fearful of bodily injury or death.

The potential penalties are imprisonment for up to five years in the state prison, imprisonment in a house of correction for up to two and a half years, a fine of up to $1,000, or a combination.

Protect Your Rights by Hiring a Boston Lawyer

If you are charged with an abuse-related offense in Massachusetts, you should seek assistance from an experienced Boston attorney. These charges are prosecuted aggressively, and the outcome of the charge may also affect future charges. We can investigate the facts of your case and develop a strong strategy to defend you. Call the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy at (617) 367-0450 or contact us via our online form if you need a stalking lawyer or representation in fighting similar types of charges. Patrick Murphy also represents people in Cambridge, Framingham, Lynn, Martha's Vineyard, Medford, Newton, Somerville, Taunton, and other areas of Middlesex, Suffolk, Essex, Barnstable, Hampden, Hampshire, Bristol, and Dukes Counties.

Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog - Harassment Crimes
Client Reviews
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"Highly Recommended. Attorney Patrick J. Murphy absolutely helped me out in my time of need. When I met him in his Boston office he put me right at ease and explained the criminal process to me in a way I could easily understand and in a manner that gave me complete confidence. I was facing a criminal wanton destruction of property charge in Barnstable District Court. On the day of the case, he was at the courthouse waiting for me and my wife. Mr. Murphy handled the hearing in a very thorough and professional manner putting us through our testimony and making a powerful argument to the decision maker. My case was thrown out and I could not be happier with the service from Attorney Murphy. I highly recommend him to you as a skilled legal advocate!" Rob, Avvo User
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"Excellent Criminal Defense Lawyer. From the first consultation I knew Patrick Murphy was the right choice for my criminal defense. He was knowledgeable of the laws and knew how to build up a strong defense for my case. Every phone call and email I made was promptly answered. When it came time for my hearing, Patrick was prepared and able to get the criminal complaint against me dropped without ever becoming charge! Would highly recommend this attorney to anyone seeking a top quality defense attorney to handle their case!" John, Avvo User
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"OUI Not Guilty Verdict. Patrick Murphy provided excellent service as council on my case. He worked diligently over a long legal process that spanned over 3 years. He was able to take my case to a Jury Trial and get me a Not Guilty verdict through he expert knowledge of the law and expertise in cross examination of the prosecutions witnesses. He was very professional and available at anytime night or day to answer questions." Chris, Avvo User
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"Highly Skilled and Professional Lawyer. Attorney Pat Murphy did a great job guiding me through an A&B charge, and most importantly getting the case dismissed in a very timely manner. He is very professional, returns call promptly, and did a great explaining his strategy and the legal process to me. I was confident throughout the whole process that I was in good hands and would receive the best possible outcome in my case. Would highly recommended Attorney Murphy." Avvo User
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"I Felt That I was in Good Hands... and I Was! Mr. Patrick J. Murphy was very quick to respond to my needs. He was always there to answer any questions I had in a timely fashion, and he made me feel very comfortable in an extremely uncomfortable situation. Having Mr. Murphy by my side in the courtroom felt like I was at an advantage. He speaks with confidence. He doesn't stutter or pause while put on the spot. He treated me with respect. He listens. He always greeted me with a warm welcome and never wasted any time." Avvo User