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Domestic Assault & Battery FAQs

Being accused of a crime or facing a criminal charge can be an unnerving experience. Domestic assault and battery crimes are extremely common in Massachusetts. Nevertheless, these crimes are treated very seriously by law enforcement and the district attorneys who prosecute these cases. Being charged with domestic assault and battery can have the potential for significant consequences. If you find yourself facing such a charge, you likely have questions about your rights and the potential range of outcomes for your case. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney for specific guidance. However, these are some answers to general questions that often arise.

What does it mean if I am charged with domestic assault and battery?

The assault and battery portion of this charge contains the same elements of a simple assault and battery charge. Though assault and battery are actually two separate and distinct acts, in the context of a domestic assault and battery charge this generally refers to unwanted touching or physical contact; this contact can be slight and there is no requirement that any type of injury or physical harm occurred. The domestic portion of the charge refers to an assault and battery that occurs between two people who are in family relationship.


What qualifies as a domestic relationship?

In order to be charged as a domestic assault and battery there must be a specific type of relationship between yourself and the person making the allegations. This is referred to under the statute as a family or household relationship and includes: people who are married, people who live together, people who are related by blood or marriage, people who have a child in common, or people who are in a dating relationship or have previously been in a dating relationship.


Is this more serious then being charged with a regular assault and battery?

Yes. A domestic assault and battery is generally treated more seriously then a simple assault and battery. Though both domestic assault and battery and simple assault and battery may be punished by up to 2 ½ years in jail, even resolutions short of jail time often come with significant penalties in domestic cases and these cases tend to be vigorously prosecuted. It is essential to contact an experienced defense attorney to help you defend against these charges.


If the police were called will I be arrested?

Yes. In Massachusetts if the police respond to a report of domestic violence they must arrest you and you will be held for a period of 6 hours prior to being released on bail or arraigned in court.


What if the whole thing was a misunderstanding and the other person does not want to go forward with the charges?

Once an arrest has been made and charges have been filed it is up to the district attorneys office how to pursue the case and only they will have the authority to dismiss the charges. Although they may take into account the feelings or wishes of the victim this does not mean that they will dismiss the case.


Can the case be dismissed right away if the person does not want to press charges?

No. As discussed above, even if the victim does not wish to pursue the case it is ultimately up to the district attorneys office how the case will proceed. In situations where the victim expresses the desire not to go forward and does not wish to testify in court, the district attorneys office will still proceed with the case and often try to prove the case without the assistance of the victim. Even if the case does end up getting dismissed this often will not happen until the case is scheduled for trial.


Will I go to jail for a domestic assault and battery?

If convicted of domestic assault and battery you could face up to 2 ½ years in jail. If this is a first offense you may be able to resolve your case without jail time but this will often come in the form of a fairly intensive probationary period in which the court may impose a variety of conditions, including a mandate that you enroll in and complete a certified batterers program. If there are any aggravating factors present you could be facing much more serious consequences including up to 5 years in state prison, or up to 15 years if a dangerous weapon was involved.


Will this charge go on my criminal record?

Yes. Once you are arraigned on this charge, even if the case is ultimately dismissed it will appear on your criminal record. If the case was dismissed you may petition the court to seal your record at a later date.


Is this a felony offense?

A charge of domestic assault and battery generally is a misdemeanor offense. However there are a number of aggravating factors that could make it a felony offense. For instance, assault and battery on a pregnant person is a felony offense or if the assault and battery resulted in a serious bodily injury that will also be a felony offense. Likewise assault and batter with a dangerous weapon or assault and battery against someone with an active restraining order against you are also felony offenses in Massachusetts.


What does it mean if I am also served with notice of a 209A order?

When a case involves allegations of domestic violence the victim will be advised of his/her right to seek a restraining order against you. This is often referred to as a 209A order due to the statute that governs these order M.G.L. chapter 209A. Such an order may be obtained by the victim based upon a showing of abuse or a variety of other factors, and allows the court to order that, among other things, you stay away and have no contact with the victim. Where the victim is seeking such an order the court is required to provide you notice that the victim is requesting the order and is required to hold a hearing in which you will have the right to object to such an order.


Should I appear for the hearing on the 209A order?

This question becomes tricky when you are also facing criminal charges of domestic abuse. If you provide testimony or make any statements to the court at the 209A hearing these statements could be used against you in your criminal case. It is always best to consult with and retain the services of an experienced defense attorney to guide you through this process.


What happens if a restraining order issues and I violate it?

Although a 209A order is civil in nature, a violation of such an order is a criminal offense. If you are accused of violating any of the terms of such an order you will be charged with a criminal offense. If you are convicted of violating a 209A order you could face serious penalties including jail time.


Massachusetts Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a domestic violence offense in Massachusetts, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C Attorney Neyman has extensive experience representing people charged with these types of crimes and will help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Attorney Neyman understands that being charged with a criminal offense can cause anxiety and stress, but particularly when these cases involve domestic violence and family relationships it can be even more distressing. Attorney Neyman will be there to guide you through the process and help you develop the best defense to these charges. Call us today at (617) 263-6800 or send an email to steve@neymanlaw.com to schedule your initial consultation. You can reach his office at any time of day or night, so do not hesitate.

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