Assault and Battery

Boston Attorney Helps Defends Clients Against Allegations of Violence

While prosecutors take all crime seriously, they tend to be especially vigilant when it comes to violent crimes. If you face an assault and battery offense, it is imperative that you reach out to a Boston criminal defense lawyer for immediate assistance.

What Is the Difference Between Assault, Battery, and Assault and Battery?

While the words assault and battery are often used together, each term has its own definition. Adding to the confusion is the fact that, in Massachusetts, there are two separate but related crimes, “assault” and “assault and battery.” However, unlike many other states, Massachusetts statutes do not define the elements of either crime. Thus, the elements of assault and assault and battery are incorporated through the old common law definitions of each offense.

An assault is defined as the threat or attempt to use physical force against another person. To be found guilty of an assault, you do not necessarily need to make physical contact with the alleged victim. For example, if Bob and Tom people get into an argument and Bob raises his fist as if to punch Tom, Bob may be guilty of an assault against Tom.

Historically, battery was defined as making harmful or offense contact with another person without their consent. Essentially, a battery is a successful attempt at an assault. Under Massachusetts law, the common law offense of battery is called assault and battery. Thus, to refer to the example above, if Bob raised his fist and then struck Tom, Bob may be guilty of assault and battery.

You can be charged with either assault, assault and battery, or both. If you are facing a Boston assault and battery offense, an attorney can be vital in defending against the allegations.

Defenses to Assault and Battery Offenses

Almost every crime has a set of defenses that can negate criminal responsibility. Aside from the general defenses that apply to almost all crimes, such as misidentification, there are a few specific defenses applicable to assault and battery crimes.


If you commit what would otherwise be an assault and battery in self-defense, you are not guilty of a crime. However, the force you use in defending yourself must be proportionate to the threat you are facing. For example, if Bob raised his fist at Tom, and Tom pulled out a gun and shot Bob, Tom’s claim of self-defense would be questionable because the force he used in defending himself was not proportionate to the threat he faced.

To raise a claim of self-defense, you must show that you were not the initial aggressor. However, if you were the initial aggressor, you may still be able to benefit from a claim of self-defense if you can prove that you made your intention to withdraw from the fight known.

Generally, you have a duty to use avoid the use of force when possible. However, under the Castle doctrine, you do not have a duty to retreat if you are acting in self-defense in your home.

Defense of Others

The concept of defense of others is similar to self-defense in that it serves as a justification for what would otherwise be an assault and battery. To raise a defense-of-others claim, you must show that you were under the reasonable and actual belief that another was in imminent threat of harm.

These are just two of the most common defenses; a skilled criminal defense lawyer can explain other potential defenses that may be applicable in your case.

Punishments for Boston Assault and Battery Crimes

The punishments for a Boston assault and battery offense depends on the extent of the injuries caused, as well as who the victim was. In general, you can be sentenced to up to 2.5 years in jail and fined $1,000 if you are found guilty. However, certain facts can increase the possible punishment significantly, such as if the alleged victim was under 14 or over 60, pregnant, disabled, a household member, or a law enforcement officer.

Are You Facing Allegations of a Violent Crime?

If you were recently charged with assault or assault and battery, reach out to the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy for immediate assistance. As a veteran Boston criminal defense attorney, Attorney Murphy has over 25 years of experience aggressively defending the rights of people facing serious accusations and know what it takes to mount a successful defense in even the toughest cases. To learn more, and to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a defense lawyer, give Attorney Murphy a call at (617) 367-0450.

Client Reviews
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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
"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