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Assault and Battery in Massachusetts

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Assault and battery in Massachusetts is the intentional and unjustified use of force upon another person, however slight, or the intentional doing of a wanton or grossly negligent act causing personal injury to another. Assault and battery come in two forms – intentional assault and battery or reckless assault and battery.

Elements of Assault and Battery

The first type is intentional assault and battery, defined as the intentional and unjustified use of force against another. The second type, reckless assault and battery, is defined as a reckless act that caused injury to another. Reckless conduct is when a person acted recklessly and should have known that such actions were very likely to cause substantial harm to someone but did it anyways.

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Type 1: Intentional Assault and Battery

To prove this type of assault and battery, the Commonwealth must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant: 

  1. Touched the other person;
  2. Intended to touch the other person; and
  3. The touching was either:
    Likely to cause bodily harm or
    – Was offensive

This type of assault and battery is the most common type of assault and battery charge in Massachusetts.  Even a very slight touching (like throwing something) at someone becomes an assault and battery if the victim did not consent to the touching.  If the victim consented to the touching, it could become an assault and battery if the touching is physically harmful.

Type 2: Reckless Assault and Battery

For the Commonwealth to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant:

  1. Intentionally;
  2. Engaged in reckless conduct; and
  3. Which caused bodily injury to the other person

Under this type of assault and battery, the injury does not need to be permanent, but it must be more than trivial. For example, an act that only shakes up a person or causes only momentary discomfort would not be sufficient. It is not enough that the Commonwealth proves that the defendant acted negligently. Rather, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant’s action went beyond mere negligence and amounted to recklessness.

Transferred Intent Applies to Assault and Battery

If a defendant, for example, throws a punch intending to hit person A and accidentally hits and injures person B instead, the defendant may be responsible for an assault and battery on person B, even though he intended to hit person A. This principle also applies when a defendant harms both the intended victim and one or more unintended victims.

Potential Punishments for A&B in Massachusetts

The penalties for assault and battery can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Below is the penalties listed in the statutory law:

Misdemeanor Assault and Battery

House of Corrections: Not more than 2.5 years (30 months); OR

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Felony Assault and Battery

State Prison: Not more than 5 years (60 months); or

House of Corrections: Not more than 2.5 years (30 months); AND/OR

Fine: Not more than $5,000

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does an Assault Figure into the Picture of Assault and Battery?

Every assault and battery includes an assault as a lesser included offense. So, if the evidence would also permit a jury finding of simple assault, the jury will be read instructions by the judge on the lesser included offense (simple assault).

What are “Aggravating” Factors of Assault and Battery?

Aggravated assault and battery essentially carry the same meaning as a standard assault and battery offense, with one exception: certain conditions must be present during the time of the offense. Some aggravating factors of A&B are: serious bodily injury, use of a dangerous weapon, against a vulnerable person (child, pregnant woman, elderly or disabled person), against a public employee, against a person with a restraining order, subsequent A&B offense.

Schedule a Private Consultation with One of Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

If you’re facing charges of assault and battery in Massachusetts, it’s important to have a strong legal defense team on your side. Our attorneys and legal team have successfully defended clients in these types of cases and can provide you with the representation you need to protect your future. Call our office 781-650-6785 or contact online for a consultation.

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