Massachusetts Assault Laws, Charges and Statute of Limitations

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In Massachusetts, there are laws against both assault and assault and battery. Assaults and batteries that cause serious injury, or are committed against a certain class of victims, can be punished as felonies. Laws regarding assault and assault and battery are covered in Massachusetts General Laws Part IV Title 1 Chapter 265 Section 13A.

An assault under state law means the person was in imminent fear of bodily harm. The alleged victim was not actually struck, but is claiming they were in fear they would be harmed physically. An assault and battery charge means the alleged victim is claiming there was physical contact. The severity of the alleged contact and the severity of injuries will decide the level of assault and battery charge brought.

Massachusetts Laws and Penalties

Under the laws of Massachusetts, assault is treated as a separate crime from assault and battery. You have committed assault if you attempt to use physical force against another party, or demonstrate an intent to use immediate force against another party.

You do not need to cause injury to another person or even make physical contact with the person for assault to be committed. For instance, trying to punch someone in the face, even if the punch does not connect, can be charged as assault. For this form of assault, the other person does not need to have been afraid or have been aware of your actions.

Another type of assault is running up to a person with your fists up. This type of assault is where you put the victim in fear of being harmed, and the conduct was perceived as being threatening.

Massachusetts Assault and battery

Assault and battery has been committed if you touched the victim in a deliberate way that was likely to cause bodily harm, or without the consent of the victim. For instance, hitting a person is assault and battery under Massachusetts law. The victim does not need to have sustained any injury; physical contact is all that is required.

Massachusetts Serious bodily injury

Assaults and batteries that lead to injury are punished more severely in Massachusetts.

Serious bodily injury creates a risk of death or can cause permanent disfigurement, loss or impairment of a part of the body. For instance, hitting someone with enough force that they are scarred for life is inflicting serious bodily injury.

Substantial bodily injury causes a serious risk of death or could cause permanent disfigurement or a long lasting loss or impairment. Breaking a person’s leg is typically considering causing a substantial bodily injury.

Bodily harm is defined as a fracture, burn, bruise, internal injury or any type of injury that happens from repeated harming of the victim. For example, hitting a victim in the stomach and causing bruising could be considered causing bodily injury.

Committing an assault on a child under the age of 14 that leads to bodily injury or substantial bodily injury may be punished as a misdemeanor or felony.

You also can be charged under Massachusetts assault laws if you have care and custody of a child and wantonly or recklessly cause injury to the child, or permit another person to cause injury to the child. For instance, leaving your child in the car of a babysitter who struck the child in the past is reckless or wanton behavior.

Punishments for assault and assault and battery are defined in Massachusetts General Laws Part IV Title 1 Chapter 265 Section 13A-J:

  • The crimes of assault and assault and battery may be punished by up to 2.5 years in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
  • Causing bodily injury to a child may be punished by up to 2.5 years in jail, or up to five years in prison. Causing serious bodily injury to a child may be punished by up to 2.5 years in jail or 15 years in prison.
  • Recklessly or wantonly causing bodily injury to a child may be punished by up to 2.5 years in jail or up to five years in prison.
  • Assault and battery against a government employee may be punished by 90 days to 2.5 years in jail and a fine of $500 to $5000.
  • Assaults that lead to serious bodily injury, assault against a woman who is pregnant, or assault and battery by a person who is under a restraining order can be punished by 2.5 years in jail and up to five years in prison, and a fine as high as $5000.

Massachusetts Assault Defenses

Common defenses to assault and assault and battery are consent, accident and self-defense. It is common for a person who prevails in a fight in self-defense to be charged with assault and battery. In other cases, the circumstances of the confrontation can make it challenging for the prosecution to prove there was an intention to cause harm.

Massachusetts law enforcement often uses the assault and battery laws to charge people for various alleged criminal acts that involve a dispute or confrontation. It is possible for a criminal defense attorney to prevail in such cases where there is little evidence there was intent to cause harm.

Massachusetts Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for assault and assault and battery in Massachusetts is three years, according to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 260 Section 4.

Massachusetts Assault Cases

  • Ware MA Man Facing Assault and Battery Charges — A man in Ware MA is facing assault and battery and aggravated rape charges of three women in Granby. Forty-one year old Arthur Salsbury has been charged with two counts of aggravated rape, three counts of rape and two counts of assault and battery.
  • Estranged Husband of Ex-MA Senate President Charged With Indecent Assault — The estranged husband of the former MA Senate President Stan Rosenberg has pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery and several related charges. Bryon Hefner, 30, was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston last week.
  • Seekonk MA Officer Arrested for Domestic Assault — A police officer in Seekonk has been accused of strangling a police dispatcher he was dating and once allegedly put a gun to her head when she did not know the weapon was not loaded. Gary L. Rushing, 38, pleaded innocent to the charges in Taunton District Court this week.