Massachusetts G.L. c. 265, § 13D: Assault and Battery on a Police Officer or Public Employee

The crime of assault and battery upon police officers and public employees is governed by General Laws chapter 265, section 13D. That statute provides as follows:

“Whoever commits an assault and battery upon any public employee when such person is engaged in the performance of his duties at the time of such assault and battery, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than ninety days nor more than two and one-half years in a house of correction or by a fine of not less than five hundred nor more than five thousand dollars…

Whoever commits an offense under this section and which includes an attempt to disarm a police officer in the performance of the officer's duties shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 10 years or by a fine of not more than $1,000 and imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 21/2 years.”

In order to convict a defendant under this statute, the government must prove the following six elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant touched the alleged victim without excuse or right.

  2. The alleged touching of the victim was intentional. This means that the defendant deliberately and consciously intended the touching and that the touching was not a result of accident or negligence. The government does not have to prove that the defendant had the specific intent to cause injury to the alleged victim.

  3. The touching was either done without the alleged victim’s consent or was likely to cause bodily harm to the alleged victim.

  4. The alleged victim was a public employee.

  5. The defendant knew that the alleged victim was a public employee.

  6. At the time of the alleged assault and battery, the alleged victim was engaged in the performance of his or her duties.

The government may also prove assault and battery on a police officer or public employee in violation of General Laws chapter 265, section 13D by proving that reckless conduct resulted in bodily injury to the officer or public employee. In order to convict a defendant of reckless assault and battery on a police officer or public employee, the government must prove the following five elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant intentionally acted in a manner that caused bodily injury to the alleged victim. Accidental actions are insufficient to satisfy this element. The government must prove that the bodily injury was serious enough to interfere with the alleged victim’s comfort or health, and a trifling injury, such as one that causes only momentary discomfort, is insufficient. However, the government does not need to prove permanence of the injury.

  2. The defendant’s actions were reckless. Proof that the defendant acted negligently is insufficient to satisfy this element. The government must prove that the defendant knew or should have known that his or her actions were likely to cause serious harm to someone but that he or she acted anyway. The government must prove that the acts that resulted in the touching were not accidental, but it does not need to prove that the defendant intended to injure or strike the alleged victim.

  3. The alleged victim was a public employee.

  4. The defendant knew that the alleged victim was a public employee.

  5. The alleged victim was performing his or her duties at the time of the alleged reckless assault and battery.

Charges of assault and battery on a public employee most frequently involve allegations of assault and battery on police officers. These charges often involve arrest situations where there was some confusion or struggle.

Related Offenses

Offenses that are similar or related to assault and battery on a police officer, G.L. c. 265, section 13D, include:

  • General Laws c. 268, § 32B, resisting arrest
  • General Laws c. 272, §53, disorderly conduct
  • General Laws c. 272, §53, disturbing the peace
  • General Laws c. 265, §13A, assault and battery
Defenses to Charges of Assault and Battery on a Police Officer

As with all criminal defense matters, defenses to charges of assault and battery on a police officer or public employee will depend on the facts of the particular case. Such defenses may involve argument that there was no touching, that the touching was accidental, or that the defendant did not know that the alleged victim was a police officer.

Penalties

Under G.L.c. 265, § 13D, the crime of assault and battery on a police officer or public employee is punishable by imprisonment for 90 days to 2 ½ years in the house of correction or by a fine of $500 to $5,000. If the offense included an attempt to disarm an officer in the performance of the officer’s duties, it is punishable by up to 10 years in the state prison or by up to 2 ½ years in the house of correction and a fine up to $1,000.

Massachusetts Assault and Battery on a Police Officer Defense Lawyer (617) 263-6800

Attorney Stephen Neyman represents persons charged with assault and battery on a police officer or public employee (G.L.c. 265, section 13D) in courts throughout Massachusetts. Attorney Neyman has decades of experience in criminal defense and regularly achieves exceptional results for his clients. If you have been charged with assault and battery on a police officer in Massachusetts, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. at (617) 263-6800 or complete the online contact form.

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