Aggravated Assault & Battery

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, Section 13A defines and prohibits the crime of assault and battery. The law defines assault and battery as either an attempt to use physical force upon another individual, whether successful or not, or threatening to use physical force upon another in the very near future. Under the first form, an assault could be committed by punching someone or attempting to punch someone. As long as the defendant makes some overt act demonstrating his goal of punching the other person, he can be charged with assault. To convict an individual of this form of assault, the prosecutor must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

First, that the defendant intended to commit a harmful or unpermitted touching of the victim.

Second, that the defendant took some overt step toward accomplishing that goal.

And third, that the defendant came reasonably close to doing so. It is irrelevant whether the defendant succeeded in carrying out the battery, or whether the victim knew that the defendant was intending to cause him or her any harm.

Under the second form, an assault could be committed by running at another individual while yelling “I’m going to hurt you,” provided the other individual reasonably fears imminent danger. In this form, the defendant’s intent to actually carry out the threatened act is irrelevant. Rather, as long as the victim reasonably perceived an imminent use of force upon him or herself, an assault and battery has occurred. Here, the prosecutor must prove two elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant:

First, that the defendant intended to put the victim in fear of an imminent harmful touching.

Second, that the defendant engaged in some conduct toward the alleged victim which the victim reasonably perceived as imminently threatening a battery.

An aggravated assault and battery occurs when the same acts described above are carried out in a more violent or more dangerous manner. For example, if the assault results in serious bodily injury, it can be charged as an aggravated assault and battery. Serious bodily injury is defined as an injury that results in permanent bodily disfigurement, loss or impairment of a bodily organ or function, or an injury that poses a substantial risk of death. Or, if the defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is pregnant, the defendant can be charged with aggravated assault and battery. Finally, if the defendant knows that the victim has an outstanding abuse restraining order against the defendant, the defendant can be charged with aggravated assault and battery. To convict a defendant of aggravated assault and battery, the prosecutor has to prove the additional facts that warrant the heightened charge beyond a reasonable doubt as well.

If the assault is done in a way that shows an intent to murder, however, the prosecutor can charge the even more serious crime of assault with intent to murder (M.G.L. chapter 265, section 29). Thus, aggravated assault and battery usually covers the offenses between simple assaults and assaults with intent to murder.

The differences between these levels of assault and battery are fact specific, and prosecutors generally have discretion in charging the level they believe is appropriate, depending on the facts of the case and their investigation. The advantage to charging the heightened version, for the government, is the ability to impose additional penalties if they get a conviction. For individuals accused of aggravated assaults and batteries, it may be possible to have the charge reduced to a simply assault during plea negotiations.

Penalties for aggravated assault and battery, which is a felony, are up to five years in state prison, or up to 2.5 years in the house of correction, and/or fines of up to $5,000.00. Thus, aggravated assault and battery is a serious offense and having a conviction on your criminal record for this crime can cause a long-lasting impact on your life. With the right defense attorney, you can defend against these charges or have them reduced in a way that limits their effect on your life.

If you have been charged with aggravated assault and battery, contact the Massachusetts assault and battery defense attorneys at the law firm of Altman & Altman. For over 40 years, our team of criminal defense attorneys has been providing clients with expert legal services throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We combine a deep understanding of the law, with innovative legal strategies, and a commitment to client service. Your attorney will be available day and night to answer your questions, and will stand by your side throughout the process of resolving your case.

We provide all clients with a free and confidential consultation to discuss their case and fully explain their legal rights and options. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.

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