In Massachusetts, you can either be charged with the crime of assault, or charged with the crime of assault and battery. It’s a common misconception that the two terms are interchangeable, and battery is often described as assault. We’ll be discussing the differences between the two charges and penalties associated with each here.
Differentiating Between the Crimes of Assault and Assault and Battery in Massachusetts
According to Massachusetts law, a battery is a “harmful or unpermitted touching of another person.” Battery is essentially what we refer to when one person hits another person, or otherwise touches another person with the intent to harm them. In contrast, assault is more akin to the events leading up to a battery. However, a battery does not have to occur in order for assault to be present.
There are two types of assault in Massachusetts:
- Attempted Battery – an attempt to use some type of physical force against another.
- Immediate Threatened Battery – demonstrating intent to physically harm someone.
In order to establish attempted battery, the prosecutor must prove that a defendant:
- Intended to commit a battery (harmful or unpermitted touching)
- Took some obvious step towards accomplishing that intent
- Came reasonably close to committing battery on the other person
For this type of assault, the prosecutor does not have to show that the victim was aware of the attempted battery or in fear of the attempted battery.
In order to establish immediately threatened battery, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant:
- Intended to frighten the victim into believing he or she would be harmed; and
- Made some move against the victim that caused the victim to fear being harmed.
Elements of the Crime of Assault and Battery
Massachusetts law defines several elements that combine to create an assault and battery charge. The requirements for an assault and battery charge are:
- The defendant touched another person without having any right or valid reason to do so;
- The defendant intended to touch the other person; and
- The touch was likely to cause bodily harm or was done so without the other person’s consent.
The prosecutor must prove that the touch was intentional, but is not required to prove that the defendant intended to harm the other person.
Penalties for Assault and Assault and Battery
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 265, Section 13A prescribes the penalties for the crime of assault and the crime of assault and battery. If you are convicted of the crime of assault, or assault and battery, you may be facing:
- Up to 2 ½ years in a house of corrections, or
- A fine of up to $1,000
Additional penalties may be applied for more complex cases in which assault or assault and battery occurred with other offenses or if the actions were taken against specific types of victims, such as children and public employees.
If you have been arrested for assault and/or battery, the best thing you can do for yourself is to talk to an experienced Boston criminal defense attorney. Contact Keegan Law today either online or at (617) 799-7644 to schedule a free case evaluation.