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Massachusetts G.L. c. 265, § 13A: Assault and Battery

The crime of assault and battery is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, section 13A, which provides as follows:

“Whoever commits an assault or an assault and battery upon another shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 21/2 years in a house of correction or by a fine of not more than $1,000.”

Under that statute, the government is required to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict a defendant of assault and battery:

  1. The defendant touched the victim without excuse or right.
  2. That touching was intentional. In this context, an intentional touching is one that is done deliberately and consciously and not by accident or negligence. The government does not have to prove that the defendant intended to injure the victim. However, an intentional act that results in a touching is not sufficient to satisfy this element.
  3. The touching was either done without the consent of the victim or the touching was likely to cause bodily harm.

The government may also prove assault and battery in violation of General Laws Chapter 265, section 13A on a theory that reckless conduct resulted in a bodily injury. To convict a defendant of assault and battery by reckless conduct, the prosecution must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant intentionally acted in a way that caused bodily injury to the victim. Though the injury need not be permanent, it must be serious enough to interfere with the victim’s comfort or health in a way that is more than trifling or momentary.
  2. The defendant’s actions were reckless. In the context of this statute, recklessness is more than mere negligence. To satisfy this element, the prosecution has to prove that the defendant knew or should have known that the actions taken were very likely to cause substantial harm to a person and that the defendant acted and ran the risk anyway. Even if the defendant was not aware of the risk inherent in his or her actions, this element may be satisfied if the government proves that a reasonable person in the circumstances would have understood the actions to be dangerous and likely to result in a substantial injury.
Examples: G.L. c. 265 Section 13A

Some more obvious examples of situations where a defendant may be charged with assault and battery include fights where defendants strike or kick another person. Assault and battery charges often arise from domestic disputes or disputes occurring in bars or at other social events.

Examples of assault and battery become less obvious where the touching was not likely to cause bodily harm but was done without the consent of the victim. For instance, one could possibly be charged with assault and battery after lightly grabbing another person’s wrist to continue a conversation, provided that the touching was intentional and done without excuse or the victim’s consent.

Related Offenses

Offenses that are similar or related to assault and battery, G.L. c. 265, section 13A include:

  • General Laws c. 265, § 13D, assault and battery upon public employees / assault and battery on a police officer
  • General Laws c. 127, § 38B, assault or assault and battery on a correctional officer
  • General Laws c. 265, § 13F, assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability
  • General Laws c. 265, § 13I, assault or assault and battery on an emergency medical technician or an ambulance operator or ambulance attendant, while treating or transporting a person in the line of duty
  • G.L. c. 265, § 13J, assault and battery on a child under 14 causing bodily injury, assault and battery on a child under 14 causing substantial bodily injury.
  • There are also aggravated forms of assault and battery involving serious bodily injury or victims who are elderly, disabled, pregnant, or plaintiffs in known restraining orders against the charged party
Defenses to Assault and Battery

The defenses to assault and battery will depend on the unique circumstances of the case. One could argue that the touching at issue was excused or justified. For example, a touching may be excused or justified where the defendant was acting in self defense. Another defense may be that the touching was not made intentionally. One might also argue that the touching was consensual and not likely to cause bodily harm. Another defense may be that no touching occurred and that the victim fabricated his or her account of the events.


Under G.L.c. 265, section 13A, the crime of assault and battery is a misdemeanor punishable by up to two and one-half years in the house of correction or by a fine of up to $1000. Under that statute, assault and battery is a felony punishable by up to five years in the state prison if the battery resulted in serious bodily injury or if it was committed upon a pregnant woman or a person having a restraining or no contact order against the defendant at the time of the offense.

Assault and Battery Defense Attorney in Massachusetts 617-263-6800

Attorney Stephen Neyman regularly represents clients accused of assault and battery (G.L.c. 265, section 13A) in courts all throughout Massachusetts. An aggressive and experienced lawyer, Attorney Neyman consistently achieves outstanding results in assault and battery cases. If you have been charged with assault and battery or any other crime in Massachusetts and would like to speak with him, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. at 617-263-6800 or send an e-mail message today.

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