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Massachusetts Assault and Battery Laws

Each state usually has its own definition of assault and battery. Generally, however, assault involves threats or attempts to physically hurt someone while battery involves actual contact with the person. In Massachusetts, there are multiple statutes that address assault and battery, which are based on a variety of circumstances that surround the offense. For example, there is a specific statute that addresses assault and battery to collect a loan. Violation of this statute is punishable by three to five years in state prison or up to two-and-a-half years in jail for a first offense, and five to ten years in state prison for any subsequent offenses.

Assault Versus Assault and Battery

It's first important to understand that Massachusetts' laws distinguish between "assault" and "assault and battery." According to the Massachusetts Criminal Model Jury Instruction 6.120 [PDF] and Instruction 6.140 [PDF], these terms are defined as follows:

  • Assault: attempting to use physical force against someone or showing an intention to use immediate force against someone.
  • Assault and Battery: deliberately making contact with someone without consent or in a way that's likely to cause physical harm.

An Overview of Massachusetts Assault and Battery Laws

When you have a question about the law, it's important to read the actual statute. But oftentimes, you'll find that statutes are written in legal jargon, which can take more time to understand than you want to spend. For this reason, it can be beneficial to also read a summary of the statute that isn't written in "legalese." Below you'll find an overview of key provisions of assault and battery laws in Michigan as well as links to relevant statutes.


Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 265:

Note: Massachusetts has a number of statutes that apply to assault and battery. This chart, while not exhaustive, highlights several of the key statutes for your convenience.

Sample Punishments for Assault and Battery

As previously mentioned, Massachusetts has several statutes addressing assault and battery. Here are samples* of two such statutes:

Section 13A: an assault or an assault and battery that doesn't fall into another statute is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to two-and-a-half years in a house of correction. However, the possible punishment becomes up to five years in state prison, up to two-and-a-half years in a house of correction, and/or a fine of up to $5,000 if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • The assault and battery causes serious bodily injury;
  • The victim is pregnant and the offender knows or has reason to know she's pregnant; or
  • The victim has a restraining order against the offender.

Section 20: assaulting someone with force and violence, and with the intent to rob or steal is punishable by up to ten years in state prison.

*Please review the statutes to see all the different types of assault and battery, as well as the applicable punishments.

Related Statute(s)

Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 265:

  • Section 13B, et seq. (Indecent Assault and Battery on a Child Under 14)
  • Section 13F (Indecent Assault and Battery on a Person with an Intellectual Disability)
  • Section 13H (Indecent Assault and Battery on a Person 14 or Older)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Massachusetts Assault and Battery Laws: Related Resources

You can find additional information and resources related to this topic by clicking on the links provided below.

Questions About Massachusetts Assault and Battery Laws? Ask a Lawyer

As you can see, the penalties for an assault and battery vary greatly depending on which statute you're charged with violating. If you've been arrested for assault or assault and battery in Massachusetts, it's in your best interest to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine which laws apply and how you can challenge any evidence against you.

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