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Simple Assault in Massachusetts

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An assault in Massachusetts is an attempt to use physical force against another person or show intention to use force against them. Assault may be committed in either of two ways. It is either an attempted battery or an immediately threatened battery.

Elements of a Simple Assault

The first type of assault occurs when the defendant intended to commit a battery but was unsuccessful. A battery is the harmful or offensive, unpermitted touching of another person. A good example of this would be intentionally swinging a baseball bat at someone and missing.

The second type of assault occurs when the defendant threatens to commit unpermitted, harmful, or offensive touching. Using the baseball bat example, if the defendant stood close to the alleged victim and waved the baseball bat overtly and menacingly, that would be a threatened battery. 

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Type 1: An Attempted but Incomplete Battery

To be found guilty of this form of assault, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  1. Intended to commit a battery (the unpermitted touching);
  2. Took some type of overt action towards accomplishing that intent; and
  3. Came reasonably close to committing the battery.

However, with Type 1 assault, the Commonwealth doesn’t need to show that the alleged victim was fearful of the attempted battery or was even aware of it in the first place. These types of cases, like any crime of attempt, require proof of both the specific intent to cause harm and an overt act towards causing that harm. Mere preparation is not enough. 

Type 2: A Threatened Battery

The Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  1. Intended to put the alleged victim in fear of imminent battery;
  2. Engaged in some conduct towards the alleged victim; and
  3. The alleged victim reasonably thought an unpermitted touching was imminent. 

Unlike the first form of assault, threatened battery requires that the alleged victim be aware of the defendant’s objectively menacing conduct. 

Potential Penalties Simple Assault Carry in Massachusetts

Facing charges for assault can be a daunting and stressful experience. It is important to understand the penalties and consequences of a conviction for assault in Massachusetts.

Misdemeanor Assault

House of Corrections: Not more than 2.5 years (30 months); OR
Fine: Not more than $1,000

Felony Assault

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

Simple Assault FAQs

Can I be Arrested For Assault?

Yes, but only if the police witness the attempted battery. If the alleged victim reports the attempted battery to the police, the police will do an investigation and if they believe the crime has occurred, they will file a criminal complaint and you will be summonsed to court. An exception to this is if the attempted battery occurs during domestic violence.  If that’s the case, the police can arrest on probable cause.

What are “Aggravating” Factors of Assault in Massachusetts?

The aggravating factors of assault are specific circumstances that make the offense more serious and can result in harsher penalties for the offender. Some aggravating factors of assault are: serious bodily injury, use of a dangerous weapon, assault against a vulnerable person(child, pregnant woman, elderly or disabled person), assault against a public employee, intent to murder, against a person with a restraining order.

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

If you’ve been summoned to court, or arrested on an assault charge, you should speak to an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. You can contact us online or call our office directly at 781-650-6785 to schedule your free consultation with one of our top-notch defense lawyers. Nate Amendola Defense brings a refreshingly holistic approach to our South Shore criminal defense practice. We not only help clients resolve criminal cases, but we also help mitigate potential collateral consequences and work to ensure you have the tool kit you need to rebuild and crush your life. We have been proudly servicing clients throughout Norwell, Massachusetts, and surrounding areas such as Plymouth, Barnstable, Nantucket, and more.

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