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Assault and Battery

In Massachusetts, if you get involved in a physical altercation with another person, you may be charged with assault and battery. The law of assault and battery is established in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, Section 13A, and is prosecuted in Massachusetts district courts.

There are two different types of assault and battery: Intentional assault and battery, and reckless assault and battery. Each crime has different elements for the prosecution to prove in order to convict you. Like other crimes, you may also assert defenses to avoid conviction.

Assault and Battery in Boston


To convict you of assault and battery, the district attorney must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. That you committed a touching, no matter how slight.

2. That you committed the touching intentionally. This element can be inferred by your conduct.

3. That the touching was harmful or offensive. Massachusetts law states that a harmful touching is contact with an individual that is physically harmful or potentially physically harmful. An offensive touching is a touching that amounts to an affront of a person’s integrity.

4. That the touching was committed without justification or excuse. For instance, a justification is when a person engages in contact sports, or when someone submits to an examination by a doctor. An excuse is touching that occurs when you make contact with someone by accident; such as when you are riding in a subway car and you accidentally bump into them.

Defenses to intentional assault and battery

If you are charged with intentional assault and battery in Massachusetts, there are many defenses you can assert. These defenses include self-defense, necessity, consent, and accident.

For self-defense, if you reasonably believe you are about to be attacked, you have the right to defend yourself. However, you are required by law to take reasonable steps to avoid resorting to force. In addition, you are not allowed to use more force than is reasonably necessary to defend yourself. Critically, Massachusetts law requires that you must attempt to retreat, if such an avenue is available, before resorting to force. If you are in your home, you are not required to retreat, so long as you believe the intruder is about to inflict great bodily death or injury upon you, and you use reasonable means to defend yourself.

The defense of necessity or duress is available to a defendant when exceptional circumstances exist. To assert this defense, the defendant has to demonstrate that, based on the facts and circumstances, breaking the law caused significantly less harm than if the defendant had complied with the law. For instance, the defense of necessity exists when circumstances force you to perform a criminal act. The defense of duress exists when other persons coerce you into performing a criminal act.

If an individual consents to an offensive touching, the defense of consent may be available. As discussed above, consent to an offensive touching may occur when you agree to play contact sports. However, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled in Comm. v. Carey that consent is not a defense to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, even in situations involving consensual sexual activity.

If the touching that occurred was accidental, you may be able to successfully assert the defense of accident. Since the law requires that the touching be intentional, if you can prove that the touching was accidental you cannot be found guilty of intentional assault and battery.

Reckless Assault and Battery in Boston


Reckless assault and battery is the less common form of assault and battery. To convict you of reckless assault and battery, the prosecution must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. That you engaged in actions that caused physical harm or bodily injury to someone. To prove this element, the prosecution must show that the injury was sufficiently serious to interfere with someone’s health or comfort. The injury does not have to be permanent. An action that only causes momentary discomfort is not considered sufficient.

2. That your actions amounted to wanton and reckless conduct. To prove this element, the prosecutor must establish that your actions went beyond mere negligence, and amounted to recklessness. For your conduct to be considered reckless, you must have known or should have known that your conduct would likely have caused substantial harm to someone, but you proceeded with the conduct anyway.

For example, negligent conduct is merely acting in a way that a reasonable person would not. In contrast, your conduct is considered reckless conduct if a reasonable person, under the circumstances as they were known to the defendant, would have recognized that his actions were so dangerous that substantial injury would likely result.

As with intentional assault and battery, if you can demonstrate that your acts occurred by accident, you cannot be found guilty of reckless assault and battery.

Injured while escaping

In some cases, you may be convicted of assault and battery even if you do not physically touch the victim. If the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant caused an individual to fear an immediate attack from the defendant, and the individual tried to escape and injured himself in the process, the defendant may be convicted of assault and battery.


According to Massachusetts law, the maximum punishment for assault and battery is 2.5 years in the state prison or a fine of $1000.

Aggressive Assault and Battery Defense

You should be aware that the crime of assault and battery carries possible time in the state house of corrections. The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman has over 20 years experience in defending individuals against a vast array of criminal charges. If you are facing prosecution for assault and battery, your future could be jeopardized.

You need an excellent defense to provide you with the best chance of avoiding a conviction. Stephen Neyman P.C. Our skilled team of criminal law professionals will defend your case from the investigative stages to trial. Please call us today at 617-263-6800 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Case Results » Assault and Battery
  • Charges of Assault and Battery Against Medical Researcher do not Issue After Clerk Magistrate Hearing

    The defendant holds a doctorate in several disciplines from top ten universities. He is engaged in medical research and is currently working towards eradicating fatal diseases worldwide. Several months ago our client was involved in an altercation with a taxicab driver. The driver claimed that during the course of the conflict our client spit on him. The police responded, obtained our client's name and issued a summons for him to attend a clerk magistrate hearing where he was charged with assault and battery in violation of G.L. c. 265 section 13A. He hired Attorney Neyman to represent him. The hearing was conducted and the victim appeared. We were able to demonstrate to the presiding magistrate that our client was not the individual who assaulted the victim. No probable cause was found and no complaint issued. 

    Read More in Violent Crimes

  • Motion to Dismiss Assault and Battery on a Police Officer and Trespass by a Non-Citizen College Student Allowed and Case Dismissed

    Our client is a non-citizen who was attending college in the United States on a student visa. Towards the end of last semester the man was found trespassing at a business in an industrial park. He was clearly intoxicated. The police tried to speak with the man to learn his identity. He became belligerent. Further attempts at conversation failed. The man became verbally abusive and then assaulted one of the police officers. He was charged with assault and battery on a police officer, G.L. c. 265 Section 13D and trespass, G.L. c. 266 section 120. Our office was hired to represent the man. We expedited the case and convinced the district attorney's office to agreed to our motion to dismiss. All charges were dismissed. The man is now able to continue with his education and his student visa will not be revoked. 

    Read More in Assault and Battery

  • Felony Charge of Assault on Person Over 60 Reduced to Misdemeanor and Continued Without a Finding in Highly Publicized Road Rage Case

    In March of this year our client and another woman were driving on a major Massachusetts highway. After nearly getting run off of the road our client stopped to avoid a collision. The other vehicle stopped behind her and approached our client in a threatening manner. Our client was then attacked by the driver of the other car, a woman over the age of 60. Conflicting eyewitness accounts were related to the police who ultimately charged both defendants with various crimes. Our client was charged with assault, G.L. c. 265 Section 13A, assault and battery on a person over the age of 60, a felony under G.L. c. 265 Section 13K disorderly conduct under G.L. c. 272 Section 53 and reckless operation of a motor vehicle under G.L. c. 90 Section 24. This case was highly publicized. Attorney Neyman convinced the district attorney to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor and to have all charges continued without a finding. All charges will be dismissed after a successful completion of the probationary period. 

    Read More in Motor Vehicle Crimes

Client Reviews
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"In less than two months Stephen Neyman got my old conviction vacated. I now have no criminal record." Paul W. Boston, Massachusetts