How does Massachusetts distinguish between assault and battery?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts actually has no statute against ‘battery’ on the books. Rather, there is one crime labeled as “assault” and another as “assault and battery.”

According to Massachusetts law, assault does not require physical contact between the offender and the victim. To qualify as assault, an action must be either an attempt to use physical force against another person or the action reasonably suggests the intention to use force against another. If, during a dispute, you were to grab at someone’s arm in an attempt to restrain them from leaving, this could be construed as assault, even if you miss, as the attempt is what counts. Likewise, getting close to someone’s face and shouting violent language could be reasonably construed as indicating an intention to do harm.

Assault and battery, on the other hand, is the crime that results from ‘completed’ assault. In Massachusetts, touching another person without his or her consent, or touching them in a way likely to cause injury, may be prosecuted as assault and battery. The severity of the harm done or that could have been done increases the consequences associated with assault and battery. Additionally, certain victims—such as elderly persons, children, and those with restraining orders against the attacker—receive extra consideration under the law.

If you have been accused of assault, or of assault and battery, call our office today. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are ready to discuss your options.

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