Assault and Battery Causing Serious Injury

The crime of assault and battery causing serious injury is a felony crime in Massachusetts that requires serious legal representation. A person who commits and intentional or reckless assault and battery that results in serious injury to an alleged victim will be charged pursuant to Mass. G.L. c. 265, § 13(b)(i) and punished by a sentence of up to 5 years or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both a fine and prison time. This crime differs from simple assault and battery because it requires evidence or proof of a permanent disfigurement, loss of impairment of a bodily function, organ, limb, or a substantial risk of death.

In order for the prosecution to prove that a defendant committed an intentional assault and battery causing serious injury in Massachusetts, four elements must be established beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant must have touched the person of the alleged victim without having any right or excuse for having done so;

  2. The defendant must have intended to touch the alleged victim;

  3. The touching by the defendant must have been either likely to cause bodily harm to the alleged victim or the touching was done without the alleged victim’s consent; and

  4. The defendant’s touching must have directly caused serious bodily injury to the alleged victim or must have directly and substantially set in motion a chain of events or occurrences that caused the serious injury in a natural and continuous sequence.

Under Massachusetts law, a serious bodily injury is defined as one that results in a permanent disfigurement, a loss of bodily function, the loss of a limb or bodily organ or a substantial risk of death.

The prosecution can proceed under either a theory of intentional assault and battery causing serious bodily injury or reckless assault and battery causing serious bodily injury. Under the reckless assault and battery theory, the government needs to prove that the defendant acted recklessly and that his reckless conduct included intentional action which caused serious bodily injury to the alleged victim.

An example of the application of this statute is instructive. In the case of Commonwealth v. Stephen M. Jean-Pierre, a defendant hit a victim's jaw and broke the jaw requiring the victim to be fed through a tube for six weeks. The victim eventually recovered. The defendant asserted that G.L. c. 265, § 13(b)(i) required that the impairment of bodily function to the victim must be permanent in order to constitute a serious bodily injury under the statute. The court rejected the defendant's argument and ruled that loss or impairment of a bodily function did not need to be “permanent” to meet the definition of "serious bodily injury" under the statute. The court determined that the term "permanent" applied only to "disfigurement" when it interpreted the statutory definition.

Assault and battery causing serious bodily injury is a significant crime in Massachusetts which requires a skilled criminal defense lawyer with significant courtroom experience and ability to utilize expert testimony, when needed, to challenge and dispute the medical evidence presented by the prosecution. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy today for a free and helpful legal consultation on case.

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