Articles Posted in Assault and Battery

Beginning in 2014, a new crime was created in Massachusetts, separating assault and battery committed against a family member from other types of assault and battery. As a result, the penalties for domestic assault and battery are generally more serious than those for regular assault and battery. This applies to felony and misdemeanor charges, alike.

Unique Consequences of a Domestic Assault and Battery Conviction

Penalties for assault and battery differ based on multiple factors, including whether the alleged victim was a family member. Below are some additional consequences, unique to domestic cases.

  • An individual charged with domestic assault and battery is required to enroll in a batterer’s intervention program.
  • Second and subsequent offenses of domestic assault and battery will be charged as a felony and may carry penalties of up to five years in prison.
  • So-called “dangerousness hearings,” which often lead to the defendant being held without bail, have looser requirements in favor of the alleged victim.

One of the most common questions asked by individuals who are charged with domestic assault and battery is whether the offense is being charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. In MA, as in most other states, the answer to this question is based largely on the severity of the crime and whether or not the defendant has a prior criminal record.

What Constitutes Felony Domestic Assault and Battery?

In addition to second and subsequent charges, any type of assault and battery (domestic or otherwise) that involves the use of a dangerous weapon will be considered a felony offense. But what exactly is a dangerous weapon? Does the defendant have to be in possession of a gun or knife?

Surprisingly, not only is the presence of a gun or knife not a requirement, but a dangerous weapon charge can occur even when no weapon, other than the defendant’s own body, is used. For example, if a husband kicks in the bedroom door before assaulting his wife, his foot could be classified as a dangerous weapon. That being said, an experienced Boston defense attorney can help you get this classic example of an “overcharge” reduced from felony to misdemeanor.

Domestic assault and battery will also likely be charged as a felony if the offense resulted in serious bodily harm, or if it was committed alongside another felony offense, such as rape.

And if a protection order was in place during the commission of domestic assault and battery, you may be charged with a felony.

Even if you are not charged with a felony, misdemeanor domestic assault and battery is a serious offense. Any criminal record can come back to haunt you for decades, but one involving domestic violence carries particularly severe consequences. In addition to difficulty finding housing and employment in the future, you may also be at risk of losing custody of your children. And noncitizen immigrants could face deportation.

Penalties for Misdemeanor and Felony Domestic Assault and Battery

  • Misdemeanor: Up to two-and-a-half years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Felony: Up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Any type of domestic violence charge carries jail or prison time, fines, and a life-altering stigma. An experienced MA defense lawyer can help you protect your rights and reputation if you are facing charges for domestic assault and battery. Continue reading

You know, words can be funny. In some arenas, they mean one thing, and then in another, they can mean something different.

This happens a lot in the practice of criminal law.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Assault And Battery

Harry Hands sees Sally Shoulder. Harry likes Sally. He calls to her and she does not answer. Perhaps she is ignoring him. Perturbed, he rather forcefully taps her on the shoulder.

Did Harry break the law?

We are talking about the potential crimes of Assault and Battery here. In Massachusetts, an assault is when you place someone in fear that they are about to be struck. The battery is when they are stuck.

Perhaps you are thinking, “Well, of course not. Sally did not incur any damage…unless she has a glass shoulder. And, in that case, still no because he couldn’t have known that.”

Your understanding would be wrong.

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As we continue our voyage through the seasons, at the rate of a season a day, let’s continue with our discussion begun last week.

A recent article in the Boston Herald, , discussed the recent run of videos which reveal the underside of law enforcement officers which most people would rather ignore.  Generally speaking, if anyone else acted in this way, the result would most likely be Assault charges.

We discussed one such case last week.  There are many more. In fact, cellphone videos capturing intense interactions between law enforcement and residents have caused repeated headaches for the Boston Police Department in recent years.

The origin of some of the videos, however, might surprise you.

For example, back in June, A movie trailer-style video described a local cop and a “dog with a limp” as partners “in the fight between good and evil.” The video ends with text that reads: “This summer, black people have met their match.”

Apparently, this particular video was created by Police Officer Joseph DeAngelo, Jr. For his “art”, he was suspended for six months without pay, put on probation for another six months and was ordered to undergo “significant” unconscious bias retraining.

Ya think?

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If you know any judges, politicians or members of law enforcement, I beg you to bring the next few blogs to their attention. Perhaps, to the extent that they do not understand a fatal-yet-ignored issue in the Massachusetts criminal justice system, this will wake them up.

Oh yeah…all the rest of you civilians out there should read them too. After all, you are the truest victims of it.

Looking at the local news this past weekend made me feel like I had fallen into some kind of a time-warp and woke up in Deja-vu Land.

The news of our “leaders” in criminal justice seem to be in the same places and saying the same things as before…only the names and dates seem to have changed. it is perpetual Groundhog Day.  Nevertheless, as criminal defense lawyers like me make the clarion call of corrupted prosecutions, unless we have instant fool-proof and court-admitted evidence…ye ol’ “smoking gun”…we are treated like Chicken Little yelling in vain that the sky is falling.

Well, keep it up, my superiors, and it will.

Let’s look at story one of our little mini-series.

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Well, it’s the day after.

This morning, I was curious as to the reaction by my fellow Bostonians (and environs) to the loss of the New England Patriots. I was a bit surprised to hear on Radio 1030 that, while Boston’s Finest were out in droves…ready for trouble…the mood was quiet…if a bit dismal. Not much action.

Not so, apparently, throughout the Commonwealth. For example, the Boston Herald  tells us that six people were arrested and several others injured when mayhem erupted. Fists were flying and folks were falling on the campus of University of Massachusetts Amherst after the New England Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Philadelphia Eagles, 41-33. The medical calls included head injuries, cuts and drunkenness, according to UMass.

The school announced this morning that approximately 2,000 people gathered on the Southwest residential plaza after the game ended at 10:17 p.m. Fights began breaking out “and the crowd threw objects and set off smoke bombs and firecrackers,” according to the school. By 11:30 p.m., the area was cleared, courtesy of the Amherst and state police. The officers used PepperBall to clear the crowd after issuing multiple dispersal orders.

UMass police are pursuing criminal charges and the school said “the university will also initiate a prompt review of the matter under its student conduct process as appropriate.”

Attorney Sam’s Take On Stupid Behavior And Real Consequences

I would like to make sure that I understand the situation here.

The students involved in the so-called melee were college students. Assuming that they were not enrolled in college simply because they had nothing better to do, they have some amount of interest in their future. You know, education, higher learning degrees…that sort of thing.

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Domestic abuse is a serious crime in MA, and nationwide. And for good reason. Nobody should suffer physical or emotional abuse at the hands of a loved one. When men and women are being harmed by a spouse or intimate partner, they should be able to end the abuse and seek justice. All too often, however, allegations of domestic violence are motivated by something other than actual abuse. Jealousy, revenge, and child custody disputes are often at the core of false accusations of domestic abuse. If you have been falsely accused, what do you do?

What to Do if Falsely Accused

Your actions following a false accusation of domestic abuse are of extreme importance. For starters, don’t lash out at your accuser; it’s important to remain calm and level headed. The tips below will help you avoid making a wrong move in these crucial moments:

  • Do not contact your accuser.
  • Consult with a Boston defense attorney experienced in domestic abuse cases.
  • Identify what may have caused the false accusation – jealousy, child custody, other legal proceedings?
  • Secure your valuable possessions. It is common for false accusers to take valuable items, knowing you won’t be able to retrieve them for an extended period of time, if ever.
  • Change passwords, bank accounts, pin numbers, and any login information. If your ex has access to any of the above, it can be stolen and / or used against you.

If your partner or ex is displaying erratic behavior but hasn’t yet accused you of domestic abuse, it may be in your best interest to share your concerns with family members and friends. They are less likely to turn against you if you shared the warning signs before any accusations were made.

False allegations of domestic abuse can ruin a person’s life. In addition to harming personal relationships with friends and family, a domestic abuse charge can have a negative impact on your career, child custody arrangements, adoption proceedings, and countless other aspects of your life. If convicted, you may find yourself behind bars for years. Even those who are eventually proven innocent may have a difficult time recovering from the stigma associated with domestic abuse. This is why it is so important to remain calm, be as prepared as possible, and hire a highly-skilled MA domestic abuse defense attorney to help you navigate this complex and emotional process.

Penalties for a Domestic Abuse Conviction in MA

If you are convicted, the penalties for domestic abuse are severe. As with any crime, the punishment is largely dependent on prior criminal history and the circumstances surrounding your case. Further, there are many types of domestic abuse-related crimes, from assault to stalking. If you have been charged with domestic abuse, you may be facing the following penalties:

  • Violating a protective order: Fine of up to $5,000 and up to two-and-a-half years in jail.
  • Assault and battery: Fine of up to $1,000 and up to two-and-a-half years in jail.
  • Assault and battery, when a protective order exists: Fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.
  • Stalking: Fine of up to $1,000 and up to two-and-a-half years in jail. Second and subsequent stalking convictions are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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Unfortunately, domestic violence is not uncommon in this country. Although the term domestic violence usually brings to mind the image of an abusive husband or boyfriend, this offense actually covers a broad range of criminal behavior. When a person subjects a parent or grandparent, child, cohabitant, or current or ex-partner to unlawful physical or emotional injuries, that person may be charged with domestic violence.

Domestic violence can involve physical abuse, such as when a parent strikes a child, and emotional abuse, such as when a husband forbids his wife to leave the house. Domestic violence – which may also be called domestic abuse, dating violence, and spousal abuse – occurs when one person in one of the aforementioned domestic relationships puts down, attempts to control, or physically harms the other.

Types of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence comes in many forms, and many victims experience multiple forms of abuse. Some of the most common types of domestic violence include:

  • Child endangerment is one lesser-known type of domestic violence. This form of abuse occurs when a caretaker places a child in a high-risk situation.
  • Elder abuse refers to the abuse or neglect of a person age 65 or older. In addition to physical and emotional abuse, this offense encompasses financial exploitation and abandonment.
  • Domestic sexual abuse can take many forms, from forcing a spouse to engage in unsafe sex practices to incest and rape of a child.
  • When an intimate partner, or a child caring for an elderly parent or grandparent controls the victim by withholding or stealing money, this type of financial abuse can be a form of domestic violence.
  • Stalking involves repeatedly harassing and threatening a victim, showing up at his or her home or place of employment, leaving harassing voicemails, and repeatedly sending unwanted emails or texts. A MA stalking defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with stalking or cyber-stalking.
  • Teen intimate partner abuse occurs with shocking frequency; up to 12 percent of all teens in grades 7 through 12 have been victims of physical abuse by their teen partner, and about 20 percent have been victims of psychological abuse. Teen intimate partner abuse dramatically increases the victim’s risk of developing risky behaviors, such as practicing unsafe sex, using drugs, eating disorders, and suicide. Further, teen victims of domestic violence are more likely to become victims again as adults.

Studies show that domestic violence affects up to five percent of adult relationships in this country alone. About two million of those victims are women. In 2003, domestic violence was involved in approximately 1,300 deaths. And about 50 percent of all women who are murdered are domestic violence victims.

Depending on the severity of the charge and whether the defendant has a criminal record, domestic violence can be a misdemeanor or a felony offense. If the victim is a child, a felony charge is more likely. If you are charged with domestic violence you may have to pay hefty fines, perform community service, attend anger management programs, and submit to a restraining order. You may also see time behind bars. A Boston domestic violence defense attorney can help you determine how to protect your rights if you’ve been charged with domestic violence or any other crime. Continue reading

Sexual assault is a serious crime, and MA punishes it harshly. It is loosely defined as the unwanted and offensive sexual touching of another. The type of touching can vary widely; forced penetration is one form of sexual assault, but so is slapping a woman’s buttocks without permission. In the example of forced penetration, the crime would likely be elevated to rape.

At Altman & Altman, LLP, we understand that humans make mistakes. Further, sometimes jealous or disgruntled ex-lovers – or individuals who wish to seek revenge – make false accusations. A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with sexual assault.

Indecent Assault and Battery vs. Aggravated Sexual Assault

There are two types of sexual assault: indecent assault and battery, and aggravated sexual assault. In the aforementioned scenario, grabbing or slapping a woman’s buttocks without her permission would fall under the category of indecent assault and battery. If, however, the offender slapped the woman’s buttocks and pushed her to the ground, causing injury, the offender may be charged with aggravated indecent assault. If the injuries were so severe that the victim required medical attention, the charges would likely be elevated to aggravated sexual assault, which carries significantly harsher punishments. In any of the above scenarios, if the victim was forced, coerced, or manipulated into unwanted sexual contact, criminal charges will almost certainly follow.

Penalties for Sexual Assault

In MA, a conviction of sexual assault is likely to result in jail time and inclusion on the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry. The following information provides additional details about the different types of indecent assault and battery and aggravated sexual assault crimes in MA, and the penalties offenders may face. A MA criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights, reputation, and freedom if you’ve been charged with sexual assault or any type of criminal offense.

  • Indecent Assault and Battery when the victim is over the age of 14: This includes any touching that is “fundamentally offensive to contemporary moral values,” such as the touching of genitals, breasts, or buttocks. This crime may result in up to five years in prison.
  • Indecent Assault and Battery when the victim is under the age of 14: When the acts above are committed against a child under the age of 14, the penalties increase substantially. This is because a minor under the age of 14 cannot consent to any type of sexual touching. The penalty for this criminal act is up to 10 years in prison.
  • Indecent Assault and Battery when the victim has an intellectual disability: Penalties of up to 10 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of five years.
  • Indecent Assault and Battery when the victim is elderly or disabled: Penalties of up to 10 years in prison when the victim has permanent or long-term physical or mental impairments.
  • Aggravated Indecent Assault and Battery when the victim is under the age of 14: This is a felony offense and may carry a sentence of life in prison. The minimum sentence is 10 years.

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During a criminal investigation, police may ask you questions whether you’re under arrest or not. But you don’t have to answer. Well, at least not most questions, and not initially. You must provide basic identifying information, such as your name and date of birth. If law enforcement asks you additional questions, you have the right to simply say “no” or remain silent, but the questions will likely continue until you specifically request to speak with a lawyer. This is true at any stage of the process.

The Fifth Amendment

The fifth amendment to the United States Constitution upholds a person’s right to remain silent. As such, invoking this right is often referred to as “pleading the fifth.” This amendment, which was proposed to congress in 1789, holds that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

But the fifth amendment is not without limits. For starters, commands and orders are not questions and should not be treated as such. For example, if an officer asks where you were the night a crime was committed, you have a right to plead the fifth. You do not, however, have the right to remain in your vehicle if an officer is ordering you to get out.

Can I Refuse a Request to Go to the Station for Questioning?

In short, yes. If you are a suspect, however, investigators will likely come to your work or home, and you may be arrested on the spot. A better idea is to schedule an appointment for later in the day or the next day, after you’ve had a chance to consult with a skilled Boston criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can even accompany you to the station, and can provide you with additional details about what to expect. Attempting to “go it alone” can be a big mistake when it comes to criminal investigations.

Should I Ask Police if I’m a Suspect?

Coming right out and asking police if you’re a suspect can be a very bad idea. For starters, they have absolutely no obligation to be completely honest during an interrogation. They might even lie to trick you. Further, the question itself can be incriminating. Avoid asking this question; ask for an attorney instead. Remember, anything that you say can be used against you.

Talking to police can be scary. They can be intimidating enough on their own, but you might also fear retaliation from those involved in the crime for “ratting them out,” talking too much, or even just providing a witness statement. Having an experienced MH defense attorney by your side can provide you with legal protection and the peace of mind to move forward. Continue reading

If you were falsely accused of domestic assault and battery, it’s important to seek the counsel of an experienced defense attorney, and fast. The charges – also known as domestic violence or domestic abuse – have serious implications in MA. In addition to a criminal record and fines, you may be required to complete anger management programs, or more expensive “batterer’s” programs. In some instances, you may have to avoid all contact with the person you are accused of harming.

Domestic violence is a serious crime, but an experienced MA defense lawyer understands how often these charges are exaggerated – or even completely fabricated – as a result of relationship problems. More than one jealous lover has falsely accused his or her mate of domestic violence. These false accusations are even worse because they undermine incidences of real domestic abuse.

What is Domestic Assault and Battery?

Domestic Assault and Battery is similar to regular assault and battery, but it involves a family member or someone who lives with you and with whom you have a close, personal relationship. Assault is a threat of violence, and battery involves unwanted physical contact with the intent to cause harm. Neither assault nor battery have to result in actual physical harm to be a crime. Even the intent to harm another can land you behind bars.

Penalties for Domestic Assault and Battery

If convicted of any type of domestic violence, you may face penalties including hefty fines and time behind bars. As with any crime, the penalties vary depending on the severity of the underlying offense and prior criminal history. Penalties may include:

  • First offense: Up to 30 months in prison and a $1,000 fine. You may also have to enroll in a Certified Batterer’s Program, which can cost more than $3,500.
  • If the victim is seriously injured, over the age of 65 or pregnant, the crime may be classified as “aggravated.” Aggravated domestic assault and battery is a felony offense and carries up to five years in prison.
  • When a dangerous weapon is involved, you may be charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. If convicted, the penalty is up to 15 years in prison.

False accusations are a serious problem; they are costly, time consuming, and can ruin a person’s reputation and life. An experienced Boston defense attorney will know how to find the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and use them to prove your innocence. Domestic violence is a serious crime in MA. Don’t let a bad break up give you a criminal record.

What if My Accuser Drops Charges?

In Massachusetts, even if the alleged victim recants his or her accusation, you will still be arrested. This may seem odd, and even unfair, but this policy is intended to protect victims of abuse. If your accuser decides they don’t wish to press charges, you are still not in the clear. The District Attorney’s office often ignores requests to drop charges in domestic violence cases. It is common for victims of domestic violence to feel pressured by their abuser to drop charges and “work things out,” and the courts want to avoid a revolving door of repeat cases. Continue reading

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