Massachusetts G.L.c. 265, § 15A: Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon

Massachusetts General Laws chapter 265, section 15A governs the crime of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. It provides as follows:

“Whoever commits an assault and battery upon another by means of a dangerous weapon shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 10 years or in the house of correction for not more than 2 1/2 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

In order to convict a person accused of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, the government must prove the following elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant touched the person of the victim without right or excuse.
  2. The defendant intended to touch the victim. The government does not have to prove that the defendant intended to cause any injury to the victim. However, it does have to prove that the touching was not the result of negligence or an accident but was conscious and deliberate.
  3. The touching was done with a dangerous weapon. Even a slight touching, if done with a dangerous weapon, is enough to satisfy this element. The government does not have to prove that any injury resulted from the touching. A dangerous weapon is one that is capable of causing death or serious injury. Some weapons, such as guns, are inherently dangerous, and a judge may instruct that such a weapon is dangerous as a matter of law. Other items, though not inherently dangerous, may become dangerous weapons because of how they are used. In other words, an object that is usually used for an innocent purpose might become a dangerous weapon when intentionally used in a way reasonably capable of causing death or serious injury. For instance, a pencil, though normally used for the innocent purpose of writing, may become a dangerous weapon when aimed at the eyes of another person. In determining whether an item is a dangerous weapon, factfinders consider the circumstances of the incident, the characteristics of the instrument, and the manner in which the defendant handled the instrument. A dangerous weapon may be stationary. A human body part may not be considered to be a dangerous weapon in the context of this crime.

There are various aggravated forms of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Assault and battery on a person 60 years of age or older is an aggravated form. There, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim was 60 or older, and physical appearance of the victim is insufficient, though it may be considered by the factfinder. Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is also aggravated where the defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is pregnant, if it causes serious injury, if the victim has a restraining order against the defendant, or if the defendant is 17 or older and committed the assault and battery on a child under the age of fourteen. The statute defines “serious bodily injury” as “bodily injury which results in a permanent disfigurement, loss or impairment of a bodily function, limb or organ, or a substantial risk of death.”

Examples: G.L.c. 265 section 15A

Stabbing a person with a dirk knife would be an example of an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Not all knives are dangerous weapons per se. However, “any stiletto, dagger or a device or case which enables a knife with a locking blade to be drawn at a locked position, any ballistic knife, or any knife with a detachable blade capable of being propelled by any mechanism, dirk knife, any knife having a double-edged blade, or a switch knife, or any knife having an automatic spring release device by which the blade is released from the handle, having a blade of over one and one-half inches” is dangerous per se. A more ambiguous example would be use of a shod foot. Whether a shod foot is a dangerous weapon depends on the nature of the victim’s injuries.

Related Offenses
  1. G.L.c. 265 section 13A, assault and battery. Assault and battery is a lesser included offense of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
  2. Simple assault and assault with a dangerous weapon are also lesser included offenses of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Defenses to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon

An experienced and creative criminal defense lawyer will be able to build a solid defense to charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. One common defense to charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is self-defense.

Penalties

Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is punishable by up to 10 years in the state prison or up to 2 ½ years in the house of correction or a fine of up to $5,000, or both imprisonment and a fine. Aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is punishable by up to 15 years in the state prison or up to 2 ½ years in the house of correction or a fine of up to $10,000, or both imprisonment and the fine.

ABDW DEFENSE ATTORNEY (617) 263 6800

Stephen Neyman is a Massachusetts defense attorney with decades of experience. He has successfully defended countless clients against charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. If you or someone you know have been charged with this offense or any other crime in Massachusetts, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. at (617) 263 6800 or send an email today.

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