Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member is domestic assault and battery in Massachusetts. Domestic Assault and Battery in Massachusetts is a misdemeanor for the first offense. A second offense is a felony. Massachusetts General Laws c 265 c 13 M defines this crime.
The penalties for domestic assault and battery are harsh. Anyone convicted of Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member in the past faces enhanced penalties. For instance, anyone with a prior conviction must complete a certified batters program. Anyone charged with domestic assault and battery faces a jail sentence, probation, fines, and more. A criminal defense attorney can help develop the best defenses to a domestic assault criminal charge.
What is Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member?
There are two forms of Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member in Massachusetts. First, is intentional domestic assault and battery theory. Second, there is reckless domestic assault and battery theory.
What is Domestic Intentional Assault and Battery?
There are four elements to prove Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member using the intentional assault and battery theory.
- First, the defendant touched the victim ;
- Massachusetts courts have ruled that any physical contact no matter how light is touching.
- It is also touching when a person sets in motion something that ends up striking a person.
- Second, the defendant did it intentionally
- The defendant touched the victim deliberately and consciously. Accidental contact is not enough.
- Third, the touching was either offensive or likely to cause bodily harm;
- The prosecutor must prove the touching was likely to cause harm or that it was offensive. It is offensive when the victim does not consent to the touching.
- Fourth, The defendant and the victim are members of the same family or household members at the time of the offense.
What is Domestic Reckless Assault and Battery?
A prosecutor must prove three things in order to get a conviction for domestic assault and battery in Massachusetts using the reckless assault and battery theory.
- First: That the defendant intentionally engaged in actions that caused bodily injury to the victim;
- The prosecutor must prove that the deliberate actions caused bodily harm to the victim. Bodily injury does not need to be permanent. It must be more than trifling. Also, It must be serious enough to interfere with the victim’s health.
- Second: That the defendant’s actions amounted to reckless conduct;
- A person acts recklessly when they know or should know that their conduct is likely to cause someone harm yet still acted that way. Also, a person may be guilty even if they never intended to touch the victim.
- Third: The defendant and the victim were members of the same family or household members at the time of the offense.
Who is a family or household member?
For a Massachusetts domestic assault and battery charge courts have defined family or household members as;
- are married to each other,
- were married to each other within the five years of the date of the incident,
- living together,
- had lived together within the five years of the incident
- are related
- have a child in common; or
- are in a substantive dating or engagement relationship
- were in a dating relationship within the five years of the alleged domestic assault
What is a substantive dating relationship?
Judges consider the following factors in determining if there is a substantive dating relationship:
- the length of time of the relationship;
- the type of relationship;
- the frequency of interaction between the parties; and
- if the relationship has been ended by either person, the length of time that has went by since the end of the relationship.
Are there Legal Defenses to Domestic Violence?
There are legal defenses to domestic assault and battery in Massachusetts. In assault and battery on family member cases, self-defense is one of the most common legal defenses. Issues such as how the fight started and who was the primary aggressor are important. A lawyer can help explain how to present the best self-defense legal defense.
Another common defense to a Massachusetts domestic assault and battery charge is accidental contact. An accidental touching is not enough to convict someone for domestic assault and battery.
Finally, another typical defense to an Assault and Battery on a Family or Household member is to show that the person is not a “family or household member” as defined in the statute
Charged with Domestic Violence?
Anyone charged with Assault and Battery on a Family or Household member should speak with a Massachusetts criminal attorney. A criminal attorney can help you understand the criminal process, the charges, and all potential defenses. Also, a criminal lawyer can help assess your case and give you advice specific to your case. A Massachusetts domestic assault and battery attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to help you get the best outcome for your case.
A lawyer who understands domestic assault and battery in Massachusetts can build the strongest defense. All Massachusetts courts treat Domestic Violence very seriously. Some courts even have specialized court sessions dedicated to only domestic violence cases. Also, prosecutors that handle domestic violence cases usually receive specialized training and fight each charge very hard.
Massachusetts Domestic Violence Attorney.
Attorney Patrick T. Donovan is a former prosecutor. He has represented many people charged with domestic assault and battery.
Call the Law Office of Patrick T. Donovan today for your free initial consultation at 1 (617) 479- 1800.