Aggravated Assault and Battery

The crime of Aggravated Assault and Battery in Massachusetts is a felony whereas the lesser crime of simple assault and battery is a misdemeanor. The elements of the two crimes are identical with the added exception of the aggravating factors. The statute establishing this crime is Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 13A(b).

What are the Elements of Aggravated Assault and Battery?

To prove someone guilty of this crime the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That the defendant committed an unlawful touching of someone else;
  2. That the defendant intended to do so;
  3. That the contact was offensive or harmful;
  4. That the touching either;
    1. caused serious bodily injury, (defined as loss or impairment of bodily function or limb, nearly caused death or caused permanent disfigurement) or;
    2. that the victim was pregnant at the time of the act and that the defendant knew that she was pregnant, or;
    3. that the assault and battery was committed while the defendant knew that the victim had a restraining order against him.
  5. That the touching was not justified or excused in a legal sense.
What are the Penalties Associated With This Crime?

If the case is prosecuted in the district court then after a conviction a judge can impose no more than two and one half years in the house of correction. If, on the other hand the case is prosecute in the superior court a sentence of five years in state prison can be imposed. A fine of five thousand dollars can also be assessed.

What Constitutes Impairment for the Purpose of Establishing Serious Bodily Injury?

Under this statute the word impairment is viewed in a medical context. To satisfy this element the prosecution needs to show that the injury to the organ or body part was significant enough to affect that body part’s ability to perform its function. In other words, the injury caused that portion of the body to malfunction. There is no need for the impairment of the bodily function to be permanent to satisfy the prosecution’s burden of establishing this element of the offense. This aspect of the offense is extremely difficult for the prosecution to prove. Medical records alone will not be enough for the district attorney to establish impairment. Usually a doctor is called as an expert witness at trial to assist the jury in understanding whether there was in fact impairment. Similarly, the defense will use a doctor to show otherwise.

What are the Defenses to Aggravated Assault and Battery?

The defendant’s knowledge plays a large part in the role of defenses to this crime. Take for instance the pregnant victim aspect of this law. Many times it is difficult to prove that the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant. The same applies for the restraining order enhancement. The prosecutor is going to need to prove that the defendant knew of its existence. This usually means showing that the restraining order was properly served or that the defendant had actual knowledge of its existence. Loss of bodily function or impairment is not easy to prove as discussed above. Permanent disfigurement is very subjective and vulnerable to a required finding of not guilty. Perhaps most difficult to prove is that the assault and battery created a substantial risk of death. This too is very subjective and often dismissed by a judge.

Massachusetts Felony Defense Law Firm

Attorney Stephen Neyman has had great success defending people charged with Aggravated Assault and Battery. Many of these cases against our clients have been dismissed. We have won acquittals for our clients. We are prepared to put in the time and resources necessary to get all of our clients the best results at all times.

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