Massachusetts Assault and Battery Laws

John L. Calcagni III
Assault and battery

Assault is a serious crime, and it carries with it serious penalties. However, there is a big difference between a simple assault and assault with a deadly weapon. Today we are going to take a look at all of the Massachusetts laws. We will discuss the laws, penalties, and what you should do if you receive assault and battery charges.

The Difference Between Assault and Assault and Battery

Under Massachusetts, law assault is different than assault and battery. The use of the same term in each charge can be confusing. A defendant commits assault by attempting to use physical force against another person or demonstrating an intention to use immediate force against another.

To commit assault a person doesn’t even need to inflict harm on an individual. Making physical contact is not a requirement for assault charges. An example of such a case is throwing a punch that misses its target. You could also receive assault charges for just running at someone with your fists up. The intent of such an action is to induce fear in the victim. The law states that the conduct must be reasonably perceived as threatening physical harm.

Assault and battery is different in the sense that you have to physically touch the victim. Also, this act must be likely to cause bodily harm or done without the victim’s consent. Everything from shoving someone to punching them is assault and battery.

Bodily Injury

There are three different classifications for bodily injury. Under Massachusetts state law, the three classifications are serious bodily injury, substantial bodily injury, and bodily injury.

Serious bodily injury includes a substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, or impairment of any body part. An example of such a case would be leaving a scar on the victim.

A substantial bodily injury is very similar. The requirements for a substantial bodily injury charge are the same with the exception that they include a provision for lasting loss. If you were to break someone’s leg this type of assault and battery would be considered substantial.

Bodily injury includes any burn, bruise, fracture, internal injury, or any injury that endangers the victim’s health or welfare. Because of the law just about any assault that causes any injury could be considered bodily harm.

Assaults that lead to any bodily harm carry stiffer penalties. Of course, the worse an injury is, the stricter the penalty.

Assault on a Child

The Massachusetts law states that assault on a minor under the age of 14 that causes bodily harm is an assault on a child. Whether these injuries are minor or severe can be the difference between felony and misdemeanor charges.

Even if a guardian doesn’t commit the assault themselves, there could be charges. Wanton or reckless behavior is causing injury or permitting someone else to do so, to a child that you are the guardian of. Leaving a child with someone who is likely to assault the child is an example of wanton or reckless behavior. This means that if you do not do enough to prevent an assault on a minor you could receive criminal charges.

Certain Victims or for Certain Purposes

There are also provisions to the Massachusetts assault laws for committing a crime in a certain situation or to a certain group of people. These provisions include:

  • Intent to murder, maim or disfigure
  • Committing an assault with intent to commit a felony
  • Assault during a robbery
  • While attempting to collect a loan
  • If the victim is pregnant and the defendant knows or has reason to know about the pregnancy
  • Assault against any government employee including an EMT, ambulance operator, health care provider, or a firefighter
  • Assault against an elderly person or a person with a physical or mental disability. This includes anyone that may be in the defendant’s care at the time of the assault.


This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are some types of assault and battery that have not been covered. If you have any questions about another type of assault, please contact a Massachusetts assault attorney to go over the specifics of your case. The penalties for assault in Massachusetts range from no prison time to ten years in prison. Some charges are simple misdemeanors while others are felonies.

  • Assault and battery is are punishable by up to two and a half years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
  • Bodily injury and substantial bodily injury are punishable by two and half years to five years in prison. Serious bodily injury convictions can result in up to a ten-year prison sentence.
  • Battery on an elderly person can result in a two and a half to ten-year prison sentence depending on the relationship between the victim and the defendant.

As you can see assault can carry serious consequences. You are going to want an attorney that not only knows the laws, but that can also help you formulate the best defense in your case. Call (508) 213-9113 Calcagni Law today for a free consultation.