Domestic Violence Laws

Any form of domestic violence is a crime in Massachusetts. As it is used here, the term “domestic” refers to family and household members. Domestic violence includes all forms of abuse, physical harm, attempts to cause physical harm, threats of physical harm, and non-consensual sexual relations. The term “family and household members” encompasses a broad spectrum of relationships.

Family and household members:

  • Two people who are currently married, or were married at some time
  • People who are currently living together, or who have lived together at some time
  • People who are related by blood, or by marriage
  • Two people who have children together
  • Two people who are currently dating, or who have dated in the past

From the above definitions, one can ascertain that domestic violence involves more than spouses, partners, and children. Additionally, domestic violence charges can be accompanied by other charges, such as assault, assault and battery, or sexual assault. The penalties for domestic violence and its related charges are largely dependent on the severity of actions taken. For example, while charges can apply if a husband attempts to hit his wife but does not actually hit her, the charges will be much more severe if there is a physical attack.


Stalking is another form of domestic violence. Stalking exists in two forms. The first occurs when an individual threatens another in such a way that the victim fears death or bodily injury. The second occurs when an individual repeatedly contacts another person in an alarming or annoying manner intended to cause emotional distress.

Penalties for Domestic Violence

As stated above, penalties are dependent on the severity of actions and possible accompanying charges.

Violation of a protective order: A protective order (restraining order) is issued to prohibit one person from avoiding contact with another person. Violating that order may result in up to two-and-a-half years in jail and $5,000 in fines.

Assault and Assault and Battery: These charges may result in up to two-and-a-half years in jail and $1,000 in fines. If the assault and battery occurs while the accused is under a restraining order, he or she may face up to five years in prison.

Stalking: A stalking conviction may result in two-and-a-half years in jail, fines of $1,000, and up to ten years in prison for second and subsequent convictions.

Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Serving the Boston Area

If you are being charged with domestic violence, or related charges, we can help. We understand that domestic violence cases can be profoundly emotional and that charges can be blown out of proportion when emotions run high. Our legal team has over 40 years of combined experience, and we will put this experience to work for you. Keegan Law has the compassion and understanding to help you through this difficult time, and the skill and determination to get charges reduced or dropped. Contact us today for a free consultation.