Assault and Battery on a Child under 14 Causing Bodily Injury

Assault and battery on a child under fourteen that causes bodily injury is a serious felony offense which carries serious penalties in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The legislature provides that an individual may be charged with committing or permitting assault and battery that causes bodily injury on a child less than 14 years of age under G.L. c. 265, § 13J. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts categorizes this crime in one of six ways: assault and battery which causes bodily injury, assault and battery which causes substantial bodily injury, wantonly or recklessly permitting bodily injury to a child, wantonly or recklessly permitting substantial bodily injury to a child, wantonly or recklessly permitting another to commit assault and battery which causes injury to a child under 14, and wantonly or recklessly permitting another to commit assault and battery which causes substantial injury to a child under 14.

Assault and Battery On a Child Under 14 Which Causes Bodily Injury
The penalties associated with this felony crime include imprisonment in the state prison for no more than five years, or imprisonment in the house of corrections for no more than 2.5 years. If a defendant is charged under G.L. c. 265, § 13J(b ¶ 1), the prosecution is required to prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. The alleged victim was in the care and custody of the defendant,
  2. The alleged victim was a child under 14 years of age;
  3. The defendant intended to touch the alleged victim; and
  4. The alleged victim suffered bodily injury due to the touching.
Assault and Battery On a Child Under 14 Which Causes Substantial Bodily Injury
If the bodily injury of the victim is of a substantial nature, this felony crime is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for no more than fifteen years, or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2.5 years. If a defendant is charged under G.L. c. 265, § 13J(b ¶ 1), the prosecution is required to prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. The alleged victim was in the care and custody of the defendant,
  2. The alleged victim was a child under 14 years of age;
  3. The defendant intended to touch the alleged victim; and
  4. The alleged victim suffered a substantial bodily injury as a result of the touching.
Wantonly or Recklessly Permitting Bodily Injury to a Child Under 14
Massachusetts makes a distinction between those who inflict actual harm onto a child, and those who permit injury to a child. A child placed in the care and custody of an individual who wantonly or recklessly permits bodily injury to a child under the age of 14 shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 2.5 years in the house of correction.  This is a misdemeanor offense as set forth by G.L. c. 265, § 13J(b ¶ 3). The prosecution must be able to proffer evidence to establish four elements in order to achieve a conviction of this offense:
  1. The alleged victim was in the care and custody of the defendant,
  2. The alleged victim was a child under 14 years of age;
  3. The alleged victim suffered bodily injury; and
  4. The defendant wantonly or recklessly permitted that injury to occur

Wantonly or Recklessly Permitting Substantial Bodily Injury to a Child Under 14
Similarly, a child placed in the care and custody of an individual who wantonly or recklessly permits substantial bodily injury to a child under 14 shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for no more than five years, or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for no more than 2.5 years. This is a concurrent felony offense in Massachusetts under G.L. c. 265, § 13J(b ¶ 4). To prove a defendant guilty of this offense, the Commonwealth must be able to prove the following:

  1. The alleged victim was in the care and custody of the defendant,
  2. The alleged victim was a child under 14 years of age;
  3. The alleged victim suffered bodily injury; and
  4. That the defendant wantonly or recklessly permitted that injury to occur.
Wantonly or Recklessly Permitting Another to Commit Assault and Battery Which Causes Injury to a Child Under 14
Pursuant to Massachusetts G.L. c. 265, § 13J(b ¶ 3) an individual who permits another to commit assault and battery that causes injury to a child under 14 shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 2.5 years in the house of correction. This is a misdemeanor offense.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts must be able to prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction against an offender.
  1. The alleged victim was in the care and custody of the defendant,
  2. The alleged victim was a child under 14 years of age;
  3. The alleged victim suffered bodily injury; and
  4. The defendant wantonly or recklessly permitted another to cause injury to the alleged victim by touching her or her without the right to do so.
Wantonly or Recklessly Permitting Another to Commit Assault and Battery Which Causes Substantial Bodily Injury to a Child Under 14
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts regards it to be a felony offense who any individual who wantonly or recklessly permits another to commit assault and battery which causes substantial bodily injury to a child under 14 under G.L. c. 265, § 13J(b ¶ 4). Anyone convicted of this offense shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for no more than five years, or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for no more than 2.5 years. The prosecution must be able to prove four elements in order to achieve a conviction of this offense:
  1. The alleged victim was in the care and custody of the defendant,
  2. The alleged victim was a child under 14 years of age;
  3. The alleged victim suffered substantial bodily injury; and
  4. The defendant wantonly or recklessly permitted another to cause injury to the alleged victim by touching her or her without the right to do so.
What Constitutes ‘Bodily Injury’?
The most significant clause of this statute concerns the fact that an individual must have either caused bodily injury, or permitted bodily injury to occur to a child under the age of 14. As defined by the Massachusetts legislature, bodily injury is evidenced by a substantial impairment of the physical condition such as a burn, bone fracture, subdural hematoma, injury to internal organ, injury to any bodily function or human organ, or any physical condition which substantially imperils a child health or welfare. The legislature defines substantial bodily injury as injury which creates permanent disfigurement, protracted loss of impairment of a body member, limb, or organ, or creates a substantial risk of death.

What Must the Prosecution Prove?
An assault and battery is defined as the intentional and unjustified use of force upon the person of another however slight, or the intentional doing of a wanton or grossly negligent act causing personal injury to another. This crime involves an intentional act, and therefore requires the prosecution to prove the defendant’s intent to touch, or that the defendant consciously and deliberately intended for the touching to occur. The burden of proof on the prosecution is raised a significant degree when an individual’s intent comes into play, as it can be difficult to prove what the defendant in fact intended, or whether the touching was merely by accidental. The difficulty of the intent aspect provides fertile ground for experienced defense counsel to successfully attack the prosecution’s theory of the crime and create reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge or jury deciding the case.

Common Defenses in Assault Cases
Many times assault and battery charges filed involve allegations from people with ulterior motives or biases against an alleged defendant and these will be carefully exploited on cross examination by a skillful defense attorney with significant trial experience.  Unfortunately, sometimes children end up tragically used as pawns in these types of cases due to the caustic battles of feuding parents or other family members. For example, in divorce or custody cases, a child might be coerced by an individual to make false accusations against an adverse party to discredit them and gain an advantage in Probate and Family Court.  Another problem with the American court system in terms of dealing with assault and battery cases against a child is our natural tendency as human beings to protect the innocence of a child, whether or not evidence of an assault and battery actually exists. Officials investigating such crime err on the side of caution and charges are often filed without the existence of any significant or corroborating evidence.  Other instances of injustice in these types of cases occur when police refuse to take self-defense into account, or in situations of mistaken or unknown identification of the alleged abuser. If you have been charged with a crime involving abuse of a child, an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney will be able to ensure that your case is handled with the utmost care and skill.  

Skilled Boston Massachusetts Child Crimes Defense Lawyer
The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy is a highly intelligent and resourceful Massachusetts criminal defense attorney who has 18 years of successful experience defending clients facing criminal charges such as Assault and Battery on a Child under 14 Causing Bodily Injury. Patrick J. Murphy is a Boston, Massachusetts assault and battery crimes defense attorney who is available 24/7 to provide you with a free and confidential legal assessment of your case. For additional information, please call 617-367-0450 or completing the contacts tab on our website.
Contact us for a Free Consultation
Contact form