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Penalties for Domestic Assault and Battery Charges in MA

Posted on March 29, 2022 in

If you get arrested or even accused of domestic assault and battery in Massachusetts, it can have long-lasting ramifications on your life. It is imperative to hire an experienced Middlesex County assault and battery defense lawyer to reduce your odds of a conviction if you are facing these criminal charges. You may be facing penalties such as jail time and a hefty fine, as well as a permanent criminal record that interferes with your ability to work or find housing.

What Is Domestic Assault and Battery?

According to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 265, Section 13M, domestic assault and battery is to intentionally come into physical contact with a family or household member with the intent of causing bodily harm. A “family or household member” refers to people who are married or were married to each other, have a child in common, or are or have been in a romantic relationship. Determining whether a relationship between a defendant and plaintiff is substantive enough to constitute a domestic crime takes analyzing the length of time of the relationship, type of relationship and frequency of contact.

What Penalties Could You Face for Domestic Assault and Battery in Massachusetts?

State law says that whoever is convicted of domestic assault and battery shall be punished by imprisonment in the house of correction for up to 2.5 years. If convicted of a second or subsequent offense, the sentence is enhanced to possible time in the state prison for up to 5 years. If you have no prior criminal record (or only a small record) and the alleged victim has no bodily injuries, jail time is unlikely. However, it is still a possibility.

Fines are a common penalty for domestic assault and battery, especially if the defendant does not receive a jail or prison sentence. According to Section 13A of the law, a case involving no bodily injuries is typically punishable with a fine of up to $1,000. If the crime resulted in serious bodily injury or was against a pregnant woman, however, the fine can increase to $5,000.

In addition, most domestic assault and battery charges come with a requirement for the defendant to complete a program designed to address the heart of the issue – the individual’s anger or aggression. The two most common programs required by criminal defendants are an Anger Management class (16 weeks) or a more intense Certified Batter’s Program (40 weeks). 

Related Charges and Aggravating Circumstances

The criminal charge of domestic assault and battery in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can be classified in multiple ways depending on the circumstances of the incident. The charges could be elevated to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, for example, which is a felony charge. This type of charge enhances the possible penalties to up to 10 years in state prison. Another possibility is violating a 209A restraining order. This can result in 2.5 years in the house of correction on top of the underlying domestic assault and battery criminal sentence. 

Possible Defense Strategies

The best way to protect yourself against the penalties connected to a domestic assault and battery charge in Massachusetts is to hire a criminal defense attorney. A skilled attorney will build a defense strategy suited to combat the charges brought against you. Your lawyer may be able to have the charges or penalties reduced by negotiating a plea deal, or have the case dismissed entirely. A lawyer can also increase your chances of acquittal during a criminal trial.

Common defenses to domestic assault and battery charges include self-defense and defense of others. You legally may use reasonable force to stop someone who is attacking you or a household member. Other defenses include false accusations, an accident, insufficient evidence and police errors. Discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney at Spring & Spring today for more information about domestic assault and battery in Massachusetts.