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Domestic Assault and Battery
Domestic assault and battery charges are extremely common in the state of Massachusetts and can have serious implications. Domestic assault and battery convictions often carry with them requirements that the defendant complete special programs for “batters,” or anger management programs, and those convicted may be ordered to stay away from the person on whom they committed the assault and battery. If a weapon was involved in the altercation, the punishment becomes far more serious yet.
Domestic assault and battery cases often stem from incidents related to the decline of a relationship, whether it be with a significant other or a family member. As such, they often involve intense emotions and chaos. If you have been charged with domestic assault and battery, you are likely experiencing a range of emotions, from anger and hurt, to fear and confusion.
We have prepared the following list of frequently asked questions concerning domestic assault and battery to give you a quick understanding of the charges against you:
What is Domestic Assault and Battery?
Domestic assault and battery is the same act statutorily as regular assault and battery. Assault and battery are two separate acts, although they are very similar. Assault refers to a threat of violence, as opposed to battery which refers to unlawful physical contact with the intent to cause injury, harm, or pain. Though the acts are distinct, Massachusetts police officers have the right to arrest someone for assault and battery even if there was no physical harm. Domestic assault and battery specifically refers to an assault and battery that occurs within a family relationship.
What Sentence do I Face if Convicted of Domestic Assault and Battery?
The punishment you face for a domestic assault and battery will depend on the facts of the case and the existence of aggravating factors. Assault and battery is a misdemeanor crime, and a defendant convicted of it faces up to 30 months imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. Often, defendants are allowed probation in lieu of imprisonment. Probation will come at a cost, however, as the court may require you complete a Certified Batter’s Program or an anger management program. Both programs will require an extensive time commitment and be at your cost. The Certified Batter’s Program can cost over $3,500 in some cases. Anger management is the less intensive, and more cost effective option if the court will allow for it.
When the victim has been seriously injured, pregnant, over 65, or the defendant had an outstanding no contact order against the victim, the assault and battery can be aggravated. Aggravated assault and battery is a felony offense and you could face up to 5 years imprisonment.
If a dangerous weapon is involved, which can be anything the defendant knew or should have known could cause grave bodily harm, then the defendant can be charged with the serious crime of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, which can result in up to 15 years imprisonment.
Given the range of possible sentences and the numerous charges lumped under the term domestic assault and battery, it is best to consult with a knowledge domestic assault and battery attorney who can examine your charges and provide you with a full explanation of the potential sentences you face.
The Victim Does not Wish to Press Charges; can I Still be Arrested?
Not only can you still be arrested—in Massachusetts you will be arrested. Today, most Massachusetts police departments have guidelines in place that actually require an officer arrest the alleged batter even if the victim recants, and even if no other evidence supports the accusation that an assault and battery took place. This policy is meant to protect the victim from any further harm befalling them in the event officers simply left the alleged batter in the home. However, in practice, it has resulted in many arrested based on little to no evidence that a crime occurred.
The Victim Wants to Drop the Charges; can I Still be Prosecuted?
There is a common misconception that when/if the victim, often a spouse, decides they do not want to press charges, the prosecution simply stops. This is just not the case in Massachusetts. The District Attorney’s office is in total control of what cases are brought to completion and which are dismissed, and they are generally not responsive to the wishes of the victim, even when the victim recants his or her testimony.
I'm Starting to Understand the Seriousness of the Offense, but What can I do to Prevent Conviction?
The first and most vital step is to retain an experienced Boston domestic assault and battery attorney. It is imperative that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the incident so that they conduct a thorough case investigation while the evidence is still fresh and the case against you is still in its infancy.
There is a tendency for those charged with a misdemeanor assault and battery charge to believe they do not need the assistance of an attorney, since they will likely only receive probation. This is a gravely flawed assumption. First, it is far from guaranteed that you will be sentenced to a term of probation. You do face jail time, even as a first time offender. Second, even a misdemeanor conviction for assault and battery can have long term consequences. It will form part of your criminal record and in the event you commit another domestic violence crime, it may increase your possible sentence range. Do not take a quick plea offer without consulting with a knowledgeable attorney as you may be able to avoid any conviction on your record whatsoever.
A skilled defense attorney will be able to assess the facts of your individual case and develop the best defense strategy. Oftentimes, domestic assault and battery cases involve essentially the word of the victim against that of the defendant. This can be tricky to defend against, but an experienced defense attorney can uncover evidence to show the victim’s unlawful motivation for the charges.The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman Will Fight for You
At The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, we will thoroughly and meticulously examine the facts of your case and develop the best defense strategy to obtain the best possible legal outcome. We are a team of relentless, aggressive defense attorneys that will provide you with zealous, intelligent defense. Call us today at 617-263-6800 to schedule your initial consultation.
Si usted habla español contacta a nuestro asistente de abogado Maria Rivera en 617-877-6270.