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