Assault and Battery

The Crime of Assault and Battery in Massachusetts

An assault and battery is a misdemeanor offense in Massachusetts that is prosecuted aggressively and taken seriously by the courts. By statute, under G.L. c. 265 § 13A, a simple assault and battery upon another person is made a crime. 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. If convicted, a defendant may be punished by a sentence of up to 2 years in a house of correction of by a fine of up to $1,000.

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.

Intentional Assault and Battery

In order for a defendant to be convicted of an intentional assault and battery, the prosecution must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant must have touched the person;
  2. The defendant must have intended to touch that person;
  3. The touching was either likely to cause bodily harm to the person, or was done without that person's consent.

Intent for purposes of assault and battery means that a defendant consciously and deliberately intended the touching to occur, and that the touching was not merely accidental or negligent. Therefore, the prosecutor is not required to prove that a defendant specifically intended to cause injury to an alleged victim.

Reckless Assault and Battery

In order for a defendant to be found guilty of assault and battery by reckless conduct in Massachusetts, the prosecutor must prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant intentionally engaged in action which caused bodily injury to the alleged victim. The injury caused by the defendant must be serious enough to interfere with the person's health or comfort. In other words, actions which only cause momentary discomfort are not enough;
  2. The defendant's actions amounted to reckless conduct. It is not enough for the prosecution to prove that a defendant acted negligently in a way that a reasonably careful person would not. It must be shown that the defendant's actions went beyond ordinary negligence and amounted to recklessness. The defendant acted recklessly if he or she knew, or should have known, that such actions were very likely to cause substantial harm to another person, but he or she still ran that risk and engaged in the action anyway. Here, a defendant must have intended his or her acts which resulted in the touching rather than such acts occurring merely by accident.

Defenses to Assault and Battery

Self-Defense. Every person has the right of self-defense which consists of the right to resist force and violence by using a sufficient amount of force or violence against an attacker to protect himself or herself. The right of self-defense in Massachusetts does not accrue to a person unless that person has availed himself of all reasonable means to avoid physical combat. A person cannot claim self-defense if they were the initial aggressor in the assault unless that person withdrew in good faith from the fight and announced his or her intention to stop fighting. Once self-defense has been raised by a defendant, it is the prosecutor's burden to prove that the defendant did not act in self-defense in that the defendant was not under a reasonable apprehension of suffering serious harm.

Use of Force to Protect Another Person. A person is justified in using force against another person to protect a third party if a reasonable person in the actor's position would believe that such intervention was necessary to protect the third party. Here, the defense of the other person must have been done under reasonable circumstances in which the third party would have been justified in using force to protect himself or herself.

Assault and battery is a crime that is very common in the courts and there are many other ways an aggressive and skilled trial lawyer will combat such an accusation other than the usual defenses. Often times, there are motives or biases involved in a person coming forward to accuse someone of the crime of assault and battery. Usually, these underlying motives can be exposed through vigorous cross-examination by the defense lawyer. Defense of the crime of assault and battery begins with choosing the right criminal defense attorney who will sit down with you and carefully and methodically obtain all the relevant facts and circumstances of the incident including the background information of the accuser or his witnesses, and information about their criminal records or use of alcohol other substances which may have been a factor in a given situation.

Skilled Boston Massachusetts Assault and Battery Crimes Lawyer

The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has extensive experience and has been very successful defending clients accused of the crime of assault and battery in Massachusetts. Patrick Murphy is a Boston, Massachusetts assault and battery crimes defense attorney who is available now to discuss your case. Contact Attorney Murphy today for a free and confidential assessment of your assault and battery charge.

Contact us for a Free Consultation
Contact form