Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member is also considered 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. Assault and Battery on a Family or Household member is defined in Massachusetts General Laws c 265 c 13 M.
Massachusetts law has enhanced penalties for people that have been previously convicted of Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member. If a person has been previously convicted they must complete a certified batters program unless a judge makes written findings why a batters program should not be ordered.
What is Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member?
Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member in Ma. can be proven in two ways. The first is an intentional domestic assault and battery theory. The second is as a reckless domestic assault and battery theory.
What is Domestic Intentional Assault and Battery?
For a prosecutor to get a conviction for Assault and Battery on a family or household member using the theory of intentional assault and battery they need to prove four things
- First, the defendant touched the victim ;
- Massachusetts courts have ruled that any physical contact no matter how light is considered touching. It is also considered a touching when a person sets in motion something that ends up striking a person.
- Second, the defendant did it intentionally
- It must be proven that the Defendant touched the victim deliberately and consciously. It is not enough to show that the touching was an accident or was caused by negligence.
- 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. Nothing else is needed to be proven as long as the victim does not consent to the touching.
- Fourth, That the defendant and the victim were 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 beyond a reasonable doubt 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 which caused bodily injury to the victim;
- It must be proven that the defendant acted in deliberately and the touching was not an accident. The prosecutor must prove that the deliberate actions caused bodily harm to the victim. Bodily injury does not need to be permanent, but it needs to be more than trifling. 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. A person may be guilty even if they never intended to touch the victim.
- Third: That the defendant and the victim were members of the same family or household members at the time of the offense.
Who is considered a family or household member?
For a Massachusetts domestic assault and battery charge courts haves 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 considered a substantive dating relationship?
Judges shall 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 terminated by either person, the length of time that has elapsed since the termination 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. Who was the first and primary aggressor and if the defense was reasonable are considered when considering self-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.
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.
Are there Lesser Included Offenses included in Assault and Battery on a Family Member?
Yes, there are lesser included crimes included in Assault and Battery on Family Member. Assault and Assault and Battery are lesser included charges.
Because of the enhanced penalty, it is a defense to raise whether or not there was a prior conviction. At the time the offense occurred the there needs to have already been a prior offense. If there was no prior conviction of this crime the enhanced penalties cannot be added.
What You Should Do If You’re Charged with Domestic Violence?
If you have been charged with Assault and Battery on a Family or Household member you need to speak with a Massachusetts criminal attorney. An experienced criminal attorney can help you understand the criminal process, the charges, and all potential defenses. 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 counties treat Domestic Violence very seriously. Some courts even have specialized court sessions dedicated to only domestic violence cases. Prosecutors that handle domestic violence cases usually receive specialized training and fight each charged very hard.
Massachusetts Domestic Violence Attorney.
Attorney Patrick T. Donovan is a former prosecutor who has represented many people against charges of domestic assault and battery in Massachusetts. Attorney Donovan uses his experience as a prosecutor to get the best possible outcome for each of his clients. If you or someone you know has been charged with Assault and Battery on Family or Household Member call today.
Call the Law Office of Patrick T. Donovan today for your free initial consultation at 1 (617) 479- 1800.
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