Massachusetts Battery Laws, Charges and Statute of Limitations

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In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you can be charged with assault and battery which is often prosecuted as a felony. Battery is defined as an intentional and unpermitted act that leads to offensive or harmful contact with another person. Battery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the alleged action. Battery laws in Massachusetts are covered in General Laws Part IV Title 1 Chapter 265 Section 13A. Battery is always charged in connection with assault i.e. assault and battery.

Battery is a separate and distinct crime from assault. Assault is committed by attempting to use physical force against another party, or demonstrating an intent to use force against another party. You do not need to cause any injury or even make physical contact to be charged and convicted for assault.

Battery as part of an assault and battery charge always requires some type of physical contact to have been made. For instance, if you ball your fist and make the appearance that you will hit the person, this is assault even if you do not make physical contact. But if you do strike the person, even with no physical injury, this is assault and battery.

Massachusetts Laws and Penalties

Assault under state law is treated in a different manner than assault and battery. As noted above, you are guilty of assault if you make the attempt to use physical force against someone else, or have made a demonstration of an attempt to use force against someone else. It is not necessary to have caused any injury to another party or even to have made physical contact to be committed.

On the other hand, assault and battery has happened if you touched the other person in a non-accidental way in a manner that was likely to cause harm and was without consent of the other person. For example, you can be charged and convicted for assault in battery in this state if you strike a person with your fist. The other person does not need to have any obvious injury. All it takes is to have physically touched the other person.

Serious bodily injury

If you have engaged in assault and battery that leads to injury, this will be punished more severely. Serious bodily injury creates a chance of death or can cause permanent disfigurement, impairment or loss of use of a body part. For example, if you strike someone with sufficient force to leave permanent scars, this is serious bodily injury.

Substantial bodily injury

Substantial bodily injury can lead to a serious risk of death or may cause a permanent disfigurement, or a long lasting impairment or loss. For instance, if you break someone’s arm in an assault and battery case, this is a substantial bodily injury.

Under the criminal laws of Massachusetts, there are several types of battery that can affect the severity of the punishment:

  • Assault and battery: For a first offense, you can receive up to 2.5 years in jail, or up to a $1000 fine. The prosecution must prove that you touched the alleged victim without any right, you intended to touch the victim, and the touching was likely to cause bodily harm, or was offensive and was conducted without consent. It is not necessary for the person to have suffered an actual injury to be convicted for assault and battery. This charge often occurs in a domestic argument that escalates.
  • Assault and battery on a child under 14: This is a serious felony charge with a possible sentence of 2.5 years in jail and up to five years in state prison.
  • Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon: This is a felony offense that can result in up to 2.5 years in jail or up to 10 years in prison.
  • Assault and battery against an employee of the government can receive a punishment of 90 days to 2.5 years in jail. The fine can be $500 to $5000.
  • Assault and battery that leads to any serious bodily injury, an assault against a pregnant woman, or assault and battery by a person who has a restraining order on them may be punished by up to 2.5 years in jail or five years in prison. The fine can be up to $5000.

Massachusetts Battery Defenses

There are three general defenses to battery charges:

  • Self defense: A person is allowed under state law to act in self defense but this must be done in a reasonable manner. You cannot claim this defense unless you were attacked first by the other person, or reasonably expected you were going to be attacked.
  • Defense of another person: You can use a reasonable amount of force to protect another person that you would have been allowed to protect yourself.
  • Defense of property: This part of the law refers to your home or dwelling and not other personal property. A person who is lawfully occupying their home or dwelling is not required by law to retreat or use another means to avoid physical confrontation with an intruder, if two circumstances exist. First, the occupant must believe the intruder is about to cause bodily injury. Second, the occupant only may use reasonable force to defend himself.

Massachusetts Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for a battery or assault and battery case in Massachusetts is three years, per Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 260 Section 4.

Massachusetts Battery Cases

  • Defense Attorney Tries To Get Case Dropped in Westfield Hammer Attack — A defense lawyer for Westfield MA resident Adrian Hinds argued yesterday that the assault and battery case against her client should be dropped because the police failed to take a knife as evidence in the criminal investigation. The prosecutor is arguing the knife did not have anything to do with the criminal case against Hinds, who has been accused of attacking a dog and two people with a hammer.
  • Former Pastor Arrested on Sexual Assault Charges from Massachusetts — A former pastor from Seabrook, NH is being held without bail after he has been accused of raping a child while he was a pastor at a church in Massachusetts. He also has been charged in Massachusetts with assault and battery on a person 14 or over.
  • Boston Firefighter Charged With Indecent Assault — Thirty-seven year old David Sanchez, a Boston firefighter, has been charged with assault and battery as well as indecent assault and battery. He is accused of attacking a woman in January at a firehouse in Jamaica Plain.
Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

About Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

Geoffrey G Nathan is a top federal crimes lawyer and Chief Editor of He is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1988, admitted to practice in both Federal and State courts. If you have questions about your federal case he can help by calling 877.472.5775.