Quincy Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers
In Massachusetts, criminal charges involving allegations of domestic violence are commonly prosecuted in both the district and superior courts. In the heat of the moment, a simple argument between spouses, significant others, family, or household members can quickly turn physical and result in an arrest and criminal charges. Allegations of domestic assault & battery and other related charges can ruin the accused’s reputation and lead to the loss of personal relationships and employment, as well as future work opportunities.
A conviction for assault & battery and other domestic violence charges have serious and far-reaching consequences, including imprisonment, restraining orders, probation, and hefty fines. In Massachusetts, the police only need probable cause to arrest you and it usually doesn’t take more than an accusation for charges to be brought. Once the police are called and an accusation of abuse is made, an arrest is going to be made regardless of the accuser’s wishes.
The reality is people falsely accuse loved ones of domestic assault as a way of getting back at their significant other, oftentimes for being unfaithful or in response to a breakup. Sometimes, spouses lie and make false allegations of abuse to gain an advantage in divorce and child custody proceedings. In Quincy and all throughout Massachusetts, domestic abuse is taken seriously and you need an experienced Quincy criminal defense lawyer to defend your rights and help clear your name. At Riccio Law, we have extensive experience defending individuals charged with domestic abuse-related charges in district and superior court.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence describes a number of abuse and assault-related charges between family members, spouses, and significant others. Common criminal offenses related to domestic abuse are Assault & Battery on a Family/Household Member, Violation of 209A Order / Restraining Order, and Strangulation or Suffocation. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209A §1 defines “abuse” as causing or attempting to cause physical harm, or placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm, or using force, threats, or duress to cause another to involuntarily engage in sexual relations.
Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 265 §13M, anyone who commits an Assault or Assault & Battery on a Family / Household Member shall be punished by imprisonment in the house of correction for up to 2 ½ years or by a fine of up to $5,000, or both imprisonment and a fine. Under G.L. c. 265 §13M(c), “family or household member” includes any of the following:
- Spouses and former spouses
- People who are or were living together
- Blood relatives
- Relatives by current or former marriage (not necessarily their own)
- People who share a child (regardless of whether they have ever been married or lived together)
- People who are or have been in a significant dating relationship.
Some of the other common charges related to allegations of domestic violence include:
a) Assault- any attempts or intent to harm another person physically. For an assault to occur, no actual physical contact is required but involves threats either through words or by both words and actions. A failed attempt at a “battery” also constitutes an assault.
b) Battery (“Assault & Battery”)- occurs when a person intentionally makes unwanted physical contact in a harmful or offensive way. Injuries are not required for an assault & battery to occur.
c) Stalking- occurs when a person knowingly and maliciously engages in a series of actions directed at another to scare and annoy them. The actions must cause substantial emotional distress in a reasonable person. See M.G.L. Chapter 265 §43.
d) Violation of Restraining Order / 209A Order- Failure to adhere to a restraining order even where there is no harm to the complainant is a domestic violence offense under state laws. In Massachusetts, a restraining order is often referred to as a 209A Order. Even if the complainant initiates contact, the defendant is still in violation of the restraining order if he/she does not avoid or terminate contact immediately.
Massachusetts Domestic Violence Penalties
Like most criminal charges, the penalties for domestic violence vary depending on the facts of the case and the specific charge(s). Generally, the more serious the allegations and whether there were injuries, and if so, to what extent, dictate the severity of the penalties imposed.
- Below are potential penalties for different domestic abuse-related charges:
- 2.5 years in house of correction and a fine of up to $1,000 for assault & battery
- 2.5 years in house of correction or up to 5 years in state prison for stalking
- 2.5 years in prison and a fine of $5,000 for violating a restraining order
Aggravating factors can enhance the above penalties to up to 5 years in state prison and up to a $ 5,000 fine. Some of aggravating factors include:
- Where the assault & battery resulted in serious physical injury
- Where the alleged victim was pregnant
- Where the accused had prior domestic violence charges
Additional aggravating factors that can lead to even lengthier state prison sentences, include:
- Where a dangerous weapon was used in the commission of the assault & battery
- Where the accused is over 18 years old and the victim is a minor under the age of 14
- Where there was strangulation or choking
- Where the victim is elderly or disabled
Defending Against Charges of Domestic Abuse
There is immense pressure on law enforcement and prosecutors to aggressively pursue and prosecute charges related to domestic violence. Therefore, you need a qualified and experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney to aggressively defend you against allegations of domestic violence. At Riccio Law, we employ the services of private investigators and experts to investigate and assist with the defense of our clients charged with criminal offenses alleging domestic abuse. Often, the allegations are only made after a breakup, during a divorce or custody battle, or when a spouse or significant other was unfaithful in the relationship. If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, we will vigorously investigate the allegations against you and fight to prove your innocence.
Contact a Quincy Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
If you are facing criminal charges related to domestic violence in Quincy, MA, Southeastern Massachusetts or the Greater Boston area, contact one of our offices immediately for a free case evaluation. Founder Anthony R. Riccio is an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer who offers aggressive legal representation and will help you navigate through the difficult and complicated criminal justice system. Contact Riccio Law at (508) 226-4500 to schedule your free legal consultation.