In Massachusetts, parents and stepparents are entitled to a legal defense if they are charged with assault or assault and battery on their child. The parental discipline defense is an affirmative defense. For example, self defense is an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense requires the prosecutor to prove that the defense does not apply. If the prosecutor cannot prove that the parent exceeded the scope of the defense then the parent cannot legally be convicted of a crime.
In Massachusetts, it is legal for a either a parent or a step-parent use force in order to discipline their minor child. However, that force must be considered reasonable and to the a legitimate purpose and it must not be create a substantial risk of harm or result in more than a temporary mark or injury.
Courts in Massachusetts look at three factors in determining whether a parent has a legal right to use force in order to discipline a child. First, the force must be reasonable. Second any force used was related to safeguarding or disciplining the child. Lastly, any force used did not create a substantial risk of causing a substantial risk of physical harm gross degradation, or severe mental distress.
What is reasonable when it comes to physical force? Courts in Massachusetts consider many factors in determining what is reasonable when a parent physically disciplines a child. Courts consider the age of the kid, the physical and mental condition of the child, conduct the child is being disciplined for, in addition to any other relevant evidence. As long as any injury suffered by the child is temporary than the parent cannot be convicted.
Courts have ruled that a step-parent who acts as a parental figure is entitled to these protections in the law.
If you or someone you know has been charged with assault and battery on a family or household member call Massachusetts Criminal attorney Patrick Donovan for a free no obligation consultation.
Massachusetts Criminal Attorney Patrick Donovan is a former Assistant District Attorney who has appeared in over fifty Massachusetts courts including Boston, Quincy, Brockton, Hingham, Stoughton to name a few. Attorney Donovan uses his experience as a prosecutor to get the best result for each of his clients.