When can assault or assault and battery charges be filed?

Massachusetts residents who face assault or assault and battery charges often have many questions and concerns about what these charges actually mean as well as how to defend against them. For anyone who is facing these types of serious criminal charges, it's wise to consult with a defense attorney who can answer questions, provide advice and advocate on one's behalf.

Assault charges may stem from an incident where an individual attempts to punch or hit another person, but fails to actually make contact. Additionally, assault charges may follow when an individual threatens a noisy neighbor while holding a baseball bat or some other potentially dangerous object. When it comes to assault charges, intent is important. This means that a prosecutor must "show that an offender intended the actions which make up an assault."

Often assault and battery charges are filed together. When someone faces battery charges, he or she is accused of intentionally touching another person in a harmful way and without that person's consent. Surprisingly personal injury is not a requirement to bring battery charges. Rather, the incident or act in question must only be considered by the alleged victim to be offensive in nature. 

Under Massachusetts general laws, an individual who is convicted of assault or assault and battery may face up to two-and-a-half years in jail and fines up to $1,000. Possible defenses to these charges include self-defense as well as the defense of another individual or individuals and the protection or defense of property. A criminal defense attorney will review the facts of a specific case and work to establish a defense that is compelling.

Source:, "Assault and Battery Overview," Dec. 14, 2015, "Assault and Battery Defenses," Dec. 14, 2015

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