Assault & Battery on a Person with an Intellectual Disability

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities make up a vulnerable part of the population. A significant portion of these people have IQs that only score within the range of 50 to 70 points. Legislation to protect citizens with special needs has come along way in recent decades, and works to ensure higher standards of living. For example, the CARES Act of 2014 dramatically increased autism spectrum disorder awareness, and it stimulated numerous professional training efforts. Still, crimes against these folks happen quite regularly. According to a study conducted in 2016, people with intellectual disabilities are disproportionately involved in criminal offenses, both as culprits and victims. The law here in Massachusetts is clear cut: Chapter 265, Section 13F of the Massachusetts General Laws dictate that anyone having knowledge of a person’s intellectual disability who commits an assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability shall be punishable by:

  1. Imprisonment in the house of correction for no more than 2.5 years, or
  2. Imprisonment in the state prison for no more than 5 years

Any second or subsequent offense shall result in imprisonment in the state prison for no more than 10 years. Massachusetts recognizes two different theories of assault and battery consisting of Intentional Assault and Battery and Reckless Assault and Battery. Intentional assault and battery requires intentional and unjustified use of force on the person of another, however slight, and reckless assault and battery requires a willful, wanton, and reckless act that results in physical injury to another.

In order to be found guilty of an intentional assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability, the prosecution must be able to prove five elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The defendant touched the alleged victim having no legal right or excuse;
  2. The touching was done intentionally;
  3. The touching was done contrary to the alleged victim’s wishes, or that the touching was likely to cause bodily harm;
  4. The alleged victim had an intellectual disability at the time of the assault and battery; and
  5. The defendant had knowledge of or had reason to know of that person’s intellectual disability.

The prosecution is not required to prove that the defendant committed the assault and battery with the purpose of causing injury to the alleged victim.

In order to be found guilty of a reckless assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability, the prosecution must be able to prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant acted in a reckless manner;
  2. The defendant’s reckless behavior included an intentional act which result in serious bodily injury to the alleged victim;
  3. The alleged victim had an intellectual disability at the time of the assault and battery; and
  4. The defendant had knowledge of or had reason to have knowledge of that person’s intellectual disability.

The prosecution must also prove that the injury resulting from the defendant’s reckless conduct was serious enough to interfere with the alleged victim’s health or comfort.

If you have been accused of an assault crime in the greater Boston area, it is important that you seek the services of a criminal defense attorney with extensive experience with these types of cases. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy understands the serious nature of this offense, how best to defend you, and how to resolve your case is the best way possible. Attorney Murphy has over 18 years of experience, and extensive knowledge of the law and the legal system. For more information about the various defenses for your assault case, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Patrick J. Murphy, Esq. 24/7 by calling 617-367-0450 or completing the contact form on our website.

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