Assault

Assault in Massachusetts is a criminal act prohibited by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 13A. The law states that if you commit an assault upon someone you shall be punished. The crime of assault may be committed in one of two ways. An assault is defined as an attempt or threat by someone to inflict bodily injury on someone else or by putting someone in fear of immediate bodily injury. People tend to confuse assaults with batteries. An assault does not require physical contact either directly or indirectly. Assault is one of the most frequentliy charged crimes in Massachusetts district courts. In Massachusetts there are two types of assaults. Each is described below.

What are the Different Types of Assault in Massachusetts?

The first kind of assault consists of an attempt to commit a battery. To prove someone guilty of this form of assault the district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to inflict physical harm on someone. This form of assault is a conscious intended act, not a reflexive act. The prosecutor must also show that you had the apparent ability to inflict bodily harm; that is, that it appeared to the victim that you could commit this act even if you actually could not. To prove this type of assault it is not necessary to show fear or apprehension on the part of the victim.

The second type of assault occurs when you do an act that causes fear of immediate bodily harm and that you had the intent to cause that fear. Before you can be found guilty of this form of assault the assistant district attorney must prove that you had the intention to cause fear of immediate bodily harm. The prosecutor must also show that you acted in a manner that would cause a reasonable fear of bodily harm. The prosecutor must also prove that your conduct actually caused a reasonable fear of immediate physical harm. Again, as with the first type of assault there is no need to show an actual ability to carry out the threat. Apparent ability will suffice.

Is an Assault the Same as Threatening to Commit a Crime?

There are distinct differences between assaults and threatening to commit a crime, a violation of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 2. As an example, brandishing a weapon at someone will likely constitute an assault whereas threatening with words unaccompanied by any act will not usually be considered an assault.

If I am Charged With Assault can I go to Jail?

Assaults are usually prosecuted in the district courts. There is a maximum sentence of 2½ years in jail if you are convicted of assault. As a practical matter if you are charged with assault in Massachusetts a good lawyer will keep you out of jail. Usually if you have no record the case will be resolved in a way where you still won’t have a criminal record. The typical dispositions are pretrial probation, a continuance without a finding or a dismissal. As with any crime you should contact an experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer to defend you if you are charged with assault.

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