What is Assault & Battery?
In Massachusetts, an assault and battery occurs when an individual intentionally touches another person and the touching was offensive or likely to cause bodily harm. The victim does not actually have to suffer any injuries for a person to be charged, arrested, or convicted of assault and battery.
Although a simple assault and battery is a misdemeanor in Massachusetts, aggravating factors may lead to enhanced felony charges. In cases where the victim was a child, pregnant, elderly, or suffered serious bodily injury, felony charges may be brought against the defendant. Previous convictions for the defendant may factor into the charges and will definitely be considered at the time of sentencing.
Potential Penalties for Assault & Battery in Massachusetts
Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) Chapter 265 Section 13A, a conviction for assault and battery is punishable by up to 2 ½ years in the house of correction or a fine of up to $1,000. In addition to incarceration, probation and a requirement to complete anger management or batterer’s program classes may be ordered by the court. Compliance with restraining orders, stay away orders, and no contact orders may be further conditions of probation.
In cases where the victim suffered serious bodily injury or was pregnant and the defendant had reason to know, felony charges may be issued and the maximum penalty increases to up to 5 years in state prison or a $5,000 fine, or both. Under M.G.L. c. 265 §13A, serious bodily injury occurs when the victim’s injuries result in permanent disfigurement, loss or impairment of a bodily function, limb or organ, or a substantial risk of death.
Additional aggravating factors include cases where the victim is a minor, elderly, or special needs, as well as cases where the victim had an active restraining order, stay away order, or no contact order against the defendant at the time of the assault and battery. The defendant’s prior criminal history will be a major factor contributing to the penalties imposed upon a guilty verdict or plea and could be factored into the charges issued.
Possible Defenses at Trial
Like most criminal cases, the effectiveness of potential trial defenses is dictated by the available evidence.
- Self-defense: when the defendant sustained injuries, arguing that the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and the defendant was acting in self-defense may be a viable defense strategy at trial.
- False allegations: when the victim did not sustain physical injuries, arguing that the alleged victim is lying and presenting evidence that he or she had a bias or motive to lie can be an effective trial defense.
- Misidentification: when the victim and defendant are strangers and the identification of the defendant was suggestive (i.e., photo array; line-up; show-up), arguing the defendant is not the perpetrator of the a&b may be an available defense.
Contact Riccio Law, LLC for a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer
Founder / Lead Attorney at Riccio Law, Anthony R. Riccio, has a nearly 85% acquittal rate at trial as a criminal defense lawyer and previously worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Massachusetts where he prosecuted numerous cases involving allegations of assault and battery. Having been lead counsel on over 50 trials, including approximately 35 jury trials, Attorney Riccio is a skilled trial lawyer.
Charges of assault and battery are damaging to one’s reputation and can lead to a number of challenges in one’s personal and professional life. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you on allegations of assault & battery will significantly increase your chances of beating the charges. Visit Riccio Law’s website here or contact (508) 226-4500 to learn more about our services and schedule a free consultation.