Assault and Battery
Assault and Battery (A&B) is a serious crime that carries the possibility of jail time.Elements of Assault and Battery
In order to convict a defendant of assault and battery, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:
- Touched another person without having any right or excuse for doing so;
- Intended to touch the other person; and
- Committed a touching that was either likely to cause bodily harm or was done without the other person’s consent.
There is another theory of assault and battery that involves an allegation that the defendant's reckless conduct resulted in the touching and injury of another person, but this type of assault and battery is relatively rare.
Assault and battery cases can be defended in a variety of ways.
- Accident - The Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to commit an assault and battery. If the defendant accidentally touched somebody, he or she is not guilty of assault and battery. An “accident” is defined as an unexpected happening that occurs without intention or design on the defendant’s part. It is a sudden, unexpected event that takes place without the defendant’s intending it.
- Self-Defense - A defendant is permitted to use reasonable force to defend himself or herself. If the defendant (1) reasonably believed he or she was being attacked or was about to be attacked and his or her personal safety was in immediate danger; (2) made every reasonable effort to avoid physical combat before resorting to force; and (3) used no more force than was reasonably necessary in the circumstances, then the defendant must be found not guilty of assault and battery. There is a very similar defense of another person privilege.
- Alleged Victim’s Criminal Record - If the alleged victim has a criminal record or a history of violence, Attorney Spring will attempt to present this information to the jury. Criminal convictions are generally admissible within a certain time frame (convictions for misdemeanors within the last five years are admissible; convictions for felonies within the last 10 years are admissible). History of violence evidence (also called “prior bad act” evidence) is generally admissible if the defendant is asserting self-defense. Attorney Spring has extensive experience litigating these types of issues.
- Bias - In most assault and battery cases that go to trial, there is bad blood between the defendant and the alleged victim. The alleged victim ordinarily wants to see the defendant convicted and punished. The alleged victim’s desire for revenge will be fully exposed on cross-examination.
Assault and Battery in the Marriage - Many assault and battery cases involve disputes between people who are married. In Massachusetts, the Commonwealth cannot force an individual to testify against his or her spouse. Therefore, if the alleged victim is married to the defendant and chooses not to testify, the Commonwealth will need to dismiss the case unless it can be proven without the alleged victim’s testimony. Attorney Spring will aggressively attempt to persuade prosecutors to dismiss these types of cases.
Even if the alleged victim is not married to the defendant, the alleged victim’s feelings about the case will be very important to the prosecutor. You need to have an attorney who can present the alleged victim’s feelings to the prosecutor and forcefully argue that the case should be dismissed.
Some alleged victims can refuse to testify because they have a Fifth Amendment Privilege. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that no person can be forced to offer testimony that might incriminate himself or herself in a crime. Therefore, if an alleged victim struck the defendant during the fight or if the alleged victim lied to the police about the facts of the case, that witness can assert his or her Fifth Amendment privilege and refuse to testify against the defendant.
Aggravated Assault and Battery is a crime that might be charged if the alleged victim is over the age of 60, or the alleged victim is pregnant, or the alleged victim suffered serious injuries, or the alleged victim is mentally retarded. Attorney Spring defends these cases in the same way he defends simple assault and battery cases.
Given the serious consequences that result from a conviction for assault and battery, it is essential that you have an attorney who is experienced in trying these types of cases. Attorney Spring has the necessary experience to aggressively defend your case.