Assault and Battery With a Dangerous Weapon

Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon (ABDW) is a felony that carries the potential of prison time.

Elements of Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon

To convict a defendant of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  1. Touched another person, however slightly, without having any excuse or right for doing so;
  2. Touched the other person intentionally; and
  3. Touched the other person with a dangerous weapon.

A dangerous weapon is any object that could cause death or a serious injury.  Dangerous weapons include everyday objects that we all use. However, if those everyday objects are intentionally used in a dangerous fashion (such as when a pencil is thrown at someone's eyes or boiling water is poured on someone's skin), they become dangerous weapons.

Defending ABDW Cases

ABDW cases can be defended in a variety of ways.

  • Accident - Any defendant who accidentally touches someone else with a dangerous weapon must be found not guilty of ABDW, because the prosecution is obligated to prove that the touching was done intentionally. What constitutes an accident? It is a sudden event that is unexpected and happens without the defendant's design or intention. 
  • Self-Defense - We all have the right to use reasonable force to defend ourselves from imminent physical attacks. A defendant cannot be found guilty of ABDW if he or she: (1) reasonably thought his or her safety was in imminent danger as the result of a physical attack; (3) did everything reasonably possible to avoid a physical altercation before using force; and (3) used the smallest amount of force necessary to prevent a further attack. Similarly, we all have the right to use reasonable force to defend another person who is under attack.
  • Alleged Victim’s Criminal Record - Sometimes the alleged victim or other Commonwealth witnesses have criminal records or histories of violence. In these situations, Attorney Spring files motions in court to allow him to share such information with the jury. In general, jurors will be allowed to hear about the criminal records of witnesses who have felony convictions within the last 10 years or misdemeanor convictions within the last 5 years. If the alleged victim has previously been the aggressor in physical altercations, Attorney Spring will attempt to introduce his or her "prior bad acts" at trial. Attorney Spring has experience in litigating these issues, which are very common in ABDW cases.
  • Bias - In most ABDW cases that go to trial, the alleged victim does not like the defendant. The alleged victim is working with the prosecutor to obtain a conviction and wants to see the judge punish the defendant. The alleged victim's interest in seeing the defendant convicted will be exposed by Attorney Spring during his cross-examination of the alleged victim. 

ABDW in the Marriage - Many ABDW cases result from disputes between individuals who are married to one another. The prosecutor cannot force an alleged victim to testify against his or her spouse in Massachusetts. Therefore, if the defendant's husband or wife is the alleged victim and is choosing not to testify, the prosecutor will have to dismiss the case unless the defendant's guilt can be proven without the spouse's testimony.

Even if the alleged victim and the defendant are not married, the alleged victim’s feelings about the case will sometimes be considered by the prosecutor. You should have a lawyer who can present the alleged victim’s feelings to the prosecution team and aggressively argue that the case should be dismissed.

Depending on the facts of the case, some alleged victims can refuse to testify pursuant to the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fifth Amendment says that a witness cannot be forced to testify under oath if the testimony might incriminate himself or herself in a crime. Therefore, if the alleged victim pushed or slapped the defendant during a fight or intentionally provided inaccurate testimony to the police during the subsequent investigation, that witness can refuse to testify in court.

If you are convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, you will face extremely serious consequences, including the real possibility of a prison sentence. It is important that you immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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