Assault & Battery

A Misdemeanor Violent Offense

Assault vs. Battery - What's the Difference?

Massachusetts law combines the misdemeanor crimes of assault, and assault and battery, into the same statute. M.G.L. ch. 265, sec. 13A says:

"Whoever commits an assault or an assault and battery upon another shall be punished..."

These two crimes are usually linked but are still separate and distinct from each other.



An assault occurs when you cause a person to have imminent fear of being intentionally touched in a harmful or offensive way, and the touching was unconsented to. An assault is essentially an incomplete battery. If a person sees you raise your fist like you are about to punch them, that is assault. Also, if you throw a rock at someone, but do not intend to hit them, and the rock lands at the person's feet, that is also assault.



Likewise, a battery is a completed assault - the touching actually occurs and harm or offense is caused. 

It is important to realize that an assault can become a battery, even if you didn't intent to touch the person. If you throw a rock at someone intending to miss, but hit them by accident, that is still a battery even though you did not intend to hit them.



Simple assault and battery is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty of 2.5 years in jail, or up to a $1,000 fine.

Assault and Battery is a common offense and will usually result in only a term of probation unless you have a history of violent behavior, and/or significant harm was caused. People do not typically go jail for a garden variety fist fight.


Aggravating Circumstances

M.G.L. ch. 265, sec. 13A lays out additional circumstances where an Assault and Battery will become a felony, and you will be subject to harsher penalties.

Aggravating circumstances include:

  1. Assault and Battery that results in serious bodily injury to the victim;
  2. if the victim is pregnant, and you knew or had reason to know they were pregnant, or
  3. the victim has an active restraining order against you.

If any of these circumstances exist then the offense is elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony, with a maximum penalty of 5 years in state prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.


Your Assault and Battery Case

Each and every case is different and should be taken seriously. Even if assault and battery is a misdemeanor you do not want your record to reflect that you are a violent person. Possible defenses for an assault and battery case is that it was self-defense, an accident, or simply that the victim is lying about the altercation.

At Equitas Law we represent clients in a range of violent offense cases, including murder, and can get you the best possible outcome. Allow us to put our experience to work for you - call or text (617) 723-4163 for a free case review.

Some related content...

Criminal Defense FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

NO, you shouldn't! At least not without a lawyer after careful consideration.

Think about it. The police have a job, which is to solve crimes and bring criminal charges. The onlyreason for them to call you is because they are looking for evidence and there is no better evidence than your statement. Very often, they are calling you because they don't have enough evidence to charge you yet and they're looking to make their case with your statements.

They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. There is nothing to "clear up". They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Seriously, don't speak to the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first.

First, unless you have committed a very serious crime, the chances of you going to jail are minimal (especially if you hire a good attorney). In any event, this is not something that typically would happen until many months down the road.

We're not going to lie to you, if the prosecution can meet the burden of proof on your case, there will be consequences, ranging from a slap on the wrist to jail time. Our job is to minimize the consequences and to eliminate them, if possible.

Of course, this depends on the charges, your criminal history and many other factors, so please feel free to reach out and we can give you a more specific answer.

No, no, no, no no! Even if you decide to eventually take responsibility, your lawyer should negotiate the best deal possible. What this means depends entirely the circumstances of your criminal charge, but very often you can take responsibility and still avoid a permanent criminal record. It may also involve:

  • Pre-Trial Probation or Pre-Trial Diversion
  • An outright Dismissal of your charges upon payment of court costs
  • A Continuation Without a Finding, including the length and terms of your probation (after which the case is dismissed)
  • A period of straight probation without a jail or state prison sentence
  • A suspended sentence, where a sentence is imposed, but not served unless probation is violated
  • A lesser sentence to jail or prison and less severe conditions upon release

This is to say nothing of the fact that your case may be winnable on a motion to dismiss or at trial!

In many cases, yes. Some cases have issues that may justify a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence.

Others can and should be taken to trial, or call for a plea as soon as possible so the client can move on with their life.

The decision on what to do really depends on the facts of the case and your individual goals.

This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney who can quickly evaluate your specific case to see if there are any issues worth pursuing.

Related Content:

Strategy and Potential Issues in Massachusetts Criminal Cases

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

No, do NOT talk to the police without a lawyer. They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Their job is to gather evidence of crimes and there is no better evidence than your statement.

It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

It is very possible that you can avoid a criminal record, especially if you don't have a significant criminal history and and it is a relatively minor offense.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our criminal cases cases are handled on a flat fee basis, ranging from a clerk-magistrate's hearing to superior court or federal court cases.

All we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

Of course, it is prefereable to have an attorney at the arraignment, but don't panic! First, you can call or text me at any time and I may be able to be there. If not, take a look at this link for all the information you need:

Arraignment in Massachusetts – What You Need to Know.

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