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In August 2014 Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill that created new criminal offenses related to domestic violence. The law amended chapter 265 creating the crime of assault and battery on household members.
In order to understand the new crime of domestic assault and battery you have review the existing crimes of assault and assault and battery. A Battery is when a person intentionally (on purpose), and without justification, touches another person in a harmful or offensive way. A harmful touch is one that is meant to inflict pain or injury, while an offensive touch is often sexual in nature, or injurious to a person’s dignity.
What the Prosecution Must Prove in Assault and Battery Cases
To convict a defendant of an assault and battery in Massachusetts the prosecution must prove the following:
1. the defendant touched the person of another without permission or justification;
2. the defendant intended to touch that person; and
3. the touching was either harmful or offensive; and
4. the victim did not consent to the touching.
What the Prosecution Must Prove in Domestic and Domestic Assault and Battery Cases
In order to prove the crime of domestic assault or domestic assault and battery the commonwealth must prove the four elements listed above and that the alleged victim was a “family or household member” of the defendant.
The commonwealth can prove the alleged victim was a family or household member by showing they are which is defined in the statute as persons who is:
- married to the defendant;
- has a child in common with the defendant regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or
- has been in, a or are in a substantive dating or engagement relationship with the defendant, within the 5 years preceding the alleged assault and battery.
Defenses Against Charges of Domestic Assault and Battery on a Household Member
- The defendant did commit and assault and battery but it was done in self defense.
- The touching was accidental and not intentional.
- The alleged victim is not a “family or household member” as defined in the statute.
Penalties for Conviction on Charges of Domestic Assault and Battery on a Household Member
As with assault or assault and battery, the punishment for conviction of a domestic assault/assault and battery is no more than 2 ½ years in the house of corrections and a fine of up to $5,000. A second or subsequent offense can result in up to 5 years in state prison.
When there is domestic abuse, a batterer’s program is also required so anyone found guilty of strangulation or that accepts a continuance without a finding for a domestic assault or domestic assault and battery must complete a certified batterer’s intervention program unless “the court issues specific written findings describing the reasons that batterer’s intervention should not be ordered or unless the batterer’s intervention program determines that the defendant is not suitable for intervention.”
Experienced Massachusetts Domestic Assault Crimes Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged with an assault crime, domestic assault and battery charges, or any violent crime, we want to hear your side of the story. Call our Massachusetts law offices today at (508) 588-0422 for your free legal consultation.