Is an Assault & Battery Charge Serious?

Any assault charge should be taken seriously, with some assaults considered violent crimes carrying stiff penalties. The many different aspects of an incident, which can lead to charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies, potentially sending you to prison for many years.

The sentence you face can be exponentially longer if the assault happens while in the process of committing another crime. Prosecutors can layer multiple charges in an effort to maximize your exposure to jailtime and financial penalties.

No matter the type of assault charge you might face, having skilled legal representation is a must.

Assault vs. Assault & Battery

In Massachusetts, assault and assault and battery are not interchangeable terms referencing the same thing. Assault doesn’t require physical harm to occur while assault and battery does.


If you throw but do not land a punch, you may be charged with assault. An assault could also occur if you simply threaten to throw a punch or some other action that reasonably makes the other person fearful of harmful contact.

Assault & Battery

If you throw and land a punch, you may be charged with assault and battery. Assault & battery requires some form of physical contact and harm.

Both assault and assault and battery share the same penalty for a misdemeanor conviction: a prison sentence of up to 2 ½ years and a fine of up to $1,000 for a first-time offense.

Aggravated Assault & Battery

At first blush, the sentence previously mentioned seems easy enough to understand, but there are many caveats, usually referred to as aggravated cases, that bring harsher prison sentences and increased fines. The aggravated charges also can change where someone serves their sentence. In misdemeanor cases, you would spend your sentence in a county jail/house of correction while prison sentences for felonies are served in a state prison.

Special circumstances that lead to felonies punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine include:

  • If the victim is pregnant and the perpetrator would have or should have known she is pregnant
  • If the victim has a temporary or permanent restraining or no-contact order against the offender
  • If the offender causes serious bodily injury (bodily injury means permanent disfigurement, loss or impairment of a bodily function, limb, or organ, or substantial risk of death)

Massachusetts laws provide for different penalties for assault and battery based on the target of the assault. These include:

  • Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member. Domestic assault and battery cases are also charged under their own statute. A family or household member is defined as related by blood or marriage; living together; dating; or have a child together. The penalty for this offense is up to 2 years in jail and a $5,000.00 fine.
  • Assault and Battery on a Public Employee. This carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail and $500 fine, up to a possible 2 ½ years in jail and $5,000 fine. The public employee must have been on duty and performing their job when the altercation happened.
  • Assault and Battery on a Person with Intellectual Disability. Assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability carries up to 5 years in state prison for a first offense. The aggressor has to have known the target was intellectually disabled for this law to apply.
  • Assault and Battery on a Child Under 14. Assault and battery on a child under 14 years old causing bodily injury is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in state prison. If the target suffers serious bodily injury, that felony can carry up to 15 years in prison.
  • Assault and Battery on an Elderly or Disabled Person. Assault and battery on an elderly (anyone 60 or older) or disabled person (anyone with long-term or permanent physical disability that limits their ability to protect themselves) is a felony that carries up to 3 years in state prison and a $1,000 fine, while serious bodily injury is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If you are the caretaker of an elderly or disabled person, and recklessly allow bodily injury to be sustained by that person, you can face up to 5 years in state prison and a $5,000 fine, double that punishment if the victim suffered serious bodily injury.

Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon

Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is a felony in Massachusetts. Many articles could qualify as a deadly weapon, such as throwing a glass or a chair. A first-time offense can mean a prison sentence of up to 2 ½ years and a $5,000 fine. When the assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is executed against a specific population, punishment can reach up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Special populations include pregnant women, children under 14 years old, people 60 years or older, or if the victim has a restraining order against the aggressor.

Serious Charges Demand Serious Representation

This blog outlines many elements of assault and assault and battery, but it is by no means exhaustive. Massachusetts laws are complicated with varying penalties based on a multitude of factors. An assault or assault and battery charge should be viewed as extremely serious.

At Brad Bailey Law, we pride ourselves on being led by one of the most respected lawyers in Massachusetts and the nation, Brad Bailey. We understand the high stakes of a criminal charge and keep your future in mind as we zealously represent you.

If you are facing a criminal charge, contact us to see how we can help. Reach us by phone at (617) 500-0252 or by using our online form.

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