What is an “assault” in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, an assault can be committed in either of two ways. An assault is either an attempted battery or an immediately threatened battery. A battery is a harmful or unpermitted touching of another person.

To prove an assault in the form of an attempted battery, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant intended to commit a battery (a harmful or unpermitted touching of another person);
  • Took an overt step toward accomplishing his/her intent ; and
  • Came reasonably close to doing so.

NOTE: the prosecution is not required to prove the alleged victim was put in fear or even aware of the attempted battery.

To prove an assault in the form of an immediately threatened battery, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant intended to put the alleged victim in fear of an imminent battery; and
  • Engaged in some conduct toward the alleged victim;
  • Which the alleged victim perceived as imminently threatening a battery.

Potential Penalties for Assault Conviction in Massachusetts

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 13A , an assault is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to 2 ½ years imprisonment in a house of correction or a fine up to $1,000. However, imprisonment is not mandatory and defendants can avoid committed time (i.e., a jail sentence) after an assault conviction.

As an alternative to jail, defendants may be placed on probation and required to comply with certain conditions imposed. Conditions of probation may include stay away orders, no contact orders, no abuse orders, as well as orders to attend and complete anger management classes or obtain a mental health evaluation and complete any recommended treatment. Often, defendants have a committed sentence hanging over their head while on probation and a violation results in them being sentenced to jail / house of correction.

In cases involving a restraining order (209A), any violation will result in criminal charges for Violation of Abuse Prevention Order pursuant to M.G.L. Ch. 209A Section 7. A conviction for a Violation of 209A Order is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 2 ½ years in the house of correction and a $5,000 fine.

“Assault” v. “Assault & Battery”

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, “assault” is an entirely separate crime from “assault and battery” in Massachusetts. In short, an assault & battery requires some form of physical contact, whereas an assault does not.

Contact Massachusetts Assault Defense Law Firm

Riccio Law, LLC represents individuals in federal court and the state courts throughout Massachusetts on crimes ranging from simple misdemeanors to the most serious felonies. Lead Attorney Anthony R. Riccio is a former prosecutor who has served as lead counsel on 50+ trials with a nearly 85% acquittal rate as lead defense counsel.

With offices in Quincy and Attleboro, Riccio Law regularly represents individuals in the Greater Boston area, Boston, Norfolk County, Plymouth County, Bristol County, and the Cape &; Islands. To schedule a free consultation, contact Riccio Law here or call (508) 226-4500.