Under Massachusetts law, it is a crime to commit an assault, or an assault and battery, on a member of a person's own family or household. This is commonly known as domestic violence. Assault and battery charges alone are serious enough, but when the allegations involve a family member or a significant other, the consequences for domestic violence can be even more severe. The assault and battery charges are similar except that the alleged victim is either a family member or an intimate partner. Judges, prosecutors, and police take a rather tough stance against domestic violence charges.
When you are charged with assault and battery on a family or household member, you can face serious penalties. When you are accused of domestic violence in Massachusetts, your name is entered into a domestic violence database. It is crucial to have an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney by your side with such accusations, you do not have to fight the charges alone. If you are charged with Assault and Battery on a Household or Family Member, contact Massachusetts Domestic Violence Attorney, David Ellison, today.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR ASSAULT AND BATTERY ON A FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD MEMBER IN MASSACHUSETTS?
If convicted of Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member you are subject to the following penalties:
- Potential imprisonment up to 2½ years (first offense)
- Potential imprisonment up to 5 years (second offense)
- Potential fine up to $5,000
- Mandatory completion of a batterer's intervention program.
- Potential Probation
- Potential Criminal Conviction
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF INTENTIONAL ASSAULT AND BATTERY ON A FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD MEMBER?
To prove you guilty of committing an intentional assault and battery on a family or household member, the prosecution must prove four things beyond a reasonable doubt.
- That you touched the person of the alleged victim;
- That you intended to touch the alleged victim;
- That the touching was either likely to cause bodily harm to the alleged victim or was offensive; and
- That you and the alleged victim were family or household members at the time of the offense
What constitutes a “touch” under Massachusetts Law?
A touching is any physical contact, however slight. A touching may be direct as when a person strikes another, or it may be indirect as when a person sets in motion some force or instrumentality that strikes another.
How is “intent” defined under Massachusetts Law?
That you intended to touch the alleged victim means that you consciously and deliberately intended the touching to occur, and that the touching was not merely accidental or negligent. The prosecution is not required to prove that you specifically intended to cause injury to the alleged victim.
What constitutes an “offensive” touching in Massachusetts?
A touching is offensive when it is without consent.
How are “family or household members” defined in Massachusetts?
Under the law, two persons are “family or household members” if they are (or were) married to each other, they have a child in common, or they are (or have been) in a substantive dating or engaging relationship. A relationship need not be exclusive or committed to be a substantive dating relationship.
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF RECKLESS ASSAULT AND BATTERY ON A FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD MEMBER?
There is a second way in which a person may be guilty of an assault and battery. Instead of intentional conduct, it involves reckless conduct that results in bodily injury.
To prove you guilty of having committed an assault and battery upon a household or family member by reckless conduct, the prosecution must prove you did the following three things beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you intentionally engaged in actions which caused bodily injury to the alleged victim;
- That your actions amounted to reckless conduct; and
- That you and the alleged victim were family or household members at the time of the offense.
HOW IS “RECKLESS” DEFINED UNDER MASSACHUSETTS LAW?
You acted recklessly if you knew, or should have known, that your actions were very likely to cause substantial harm to someone, but you ran that risk and went ahead anyway.
DEFENSES TO ASSAULT AND BATTERY ON A FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD MEMBER
There are several defenses to the charge of Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member. For example, it is a defense if the alleged victim consented to you touching them. Similarly, if you had a legal justification or excuse for touching the alleged victim, this would also be a valid defense. It is also a defense if the touching of the alleged victim occurred accidentally, rather than intentionally. There are many potential defenses, but it will depend on your unique situation and case.
If you are charged with Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member, contact Domestic Violence Attorney, David Ellison, today at (401) 230-5520 to help you form your legal defense strategy for you.