Difference Between Assault and Assault and Battery in Massachusetts

The crimes “assault” and “assault and battery” are often used interchangeably amongst those charged with a crime and the public at large. However, under the law in Massachusetts, there is a distinction between the crimes of assault and assault and battery. Here’s what you need to know about the two crime types, and what you should do if you have been charged with either–

Defining Assault in Massachusetts

Assault is a distinct and separate crime from that of assault and battery, and carries different penalties if a defendant is convicted of the crime (and causes no injuries to a victim) as such. When a person commits an act of assault, they demonstrate an intent to use force against another person, or attempt to use force to cause injury against another. However, an act of assault does not involve the person actually causing physical injury to another. In fact, a defendant need not even make physical contact with another party in order for assault to occur; assault is merely the threat of physical contact.

Assault and Battery in Massachusetts

As opposed to assault, which does not require the defendant to come into physical contact with the victim, assault and battery is defined as a defendant touching a victim, with intent, in a manner that is likely to cause bodily harm or does cause bodily harm. According to jury instructions regarding assault and battery provided by the state of Massachusetts, in order for a defendant to be convicted of an assault and battery charge, it must be established that:

  • The defendant touched the victim without having any right to do so;
  • The defendant intended to touch the victim; and
  • The touching was either likely to cause bodily harm or was offensive and was done without the victim’s consent.

It is very important that the prosecution prove that the defendant had the intent to touch the victim–i.e. The touching did not occur accidentally–in order to secure a conviction.

Penalties for Assault and Assault & Battery

Interestingly, assault and assault and battery in Massachusetts are both punishable by imprisonment of up to 2.5 years or a fine of up to $1,000, as found in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 13A. However, if the act of assault and battery causes injury, or is performed against someone who is pregnant at the time of assault and battery, the offense is punishable by incarceration in the state prison for up to five years, or/and by a fine up to $5,000.

How Our Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You

If you have been charged with assault or assault and battery in Massachusetts, it is important to know what your rights are regarding your defense, and what may happen if you are convicted of the crime. At The Law Offices of Paul R. Moraski, our experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer is here to serve you. Get in touch with Paul today by calling (978) 397-0011 today.