Assault & Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon

woman with knife

The crime of Massachusetts Assault and Battery With a Dangerous Weapon (“ABDW,” in legal shorthand) is a more serious form of the lesser offense of “simple” Assault and Battery (“simple” doesn’t mean the offense isn’t serious; it only means that other, more serious legal elements aren’t present.) Governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 15A, Assault and Battery With a Dangerous Weapon is indeed a very serious offense in Massachusetts, and one that prosecutors inside District Attorneys’ offices don’t take lightly. Anyone who is charged with this offense is going to need an experienced Massachusetts Assault and Battery With a Dangerous Weapon lawyer defending their case. If the lawyer who represents you only handles these types of cases “occasionally,” you’re probably going to end up in a lot of legal trouble, and with an outcome that you never wanted.

LEGAL ELEMENTS OF THIS CRIME, AND WHAT THE COMMONWEALTH MUST PROVE TO OBTAIN A CONVICTION

There are two legal elements of this crime:

  1. The defendant intended to commit, and did commit, an underlying assault and battery. (Click on this link to learn the legal elements of assault and battery.)
  2. The defendant assaulted and/or battered the victim with the use of a dangerous weapon.

To secure a conviction on this charge, the prosecution must prove these two legal elements to a jury or judge beyond a reasonable doubt (that’s no surprise to anyone who’s ever watched a TV crime show).

However, here’s where these cases can become tricky: The Massachusetts Legislature has never defined the term “Dangerous Weapon.” So, exactly what is one? Many times, as with the use of a gun or knife, the answer is obvious and not subject to debate. Other times, however, the answer isn’t so clear. Case law has provided the courts with a general legal interpretation, which broadly speaking, is as follows: A “dangerous weapon” is any weapon that the defendant exercised under his control during the alleged commission of the crime, which is likely to cause death or inflict serious bodily injury. Many items, not normally considered dangerous, can be legally deemed to constitute a “dangerous weapon,” owing to the manner in which the item(s) was used by the defendant in the process of allegedly committing the assault and battery. Some unlikely examples: A chair; a book; a pen. More obvious examples: A small baseball bat; a paperweight. Or even a woman’s stiletto heel.

Because of the much more severe sentences and punishments that follow a conviction of Massachusetts Assault and Battery With a Dangerous Weapon, (See Penalties, below,) the primary legal challenge in these cases is to get the charges reduced to “simple” assault and battery. To successfully do this, it is critical that your Massachusetts assault and battery with a dangerous weapon lawyer be extremely experienced at this skill, and possess an expert-level qualification with these cases. Do not make a mistake in your choice of attorney, or you could end up facing a state prison term. Attorney William D. Kickham has more than 20 years of experience successfully defending these cases. We know how to challenge the prosecution’s witnesses and evidence. We have been very successful in either dismissing these charges outright or in reducing the charges to eliminate the exposure to a severe prison sentence. When that is not possible, we take these cases before a jury, and our track record speaks for itself. Call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Ph.: (781) 320-0062, or at Ph.: (617) 285-3600, or contact us online here for a free initial consultation.

PENALTIES UPON CONVICTION – BASIC PUNISHMENT

The statute governing this crime provides for “base” penalties, which are increased if certain additional factors accompany the commission of the crime. The statute provides for base punishment ranges of either a maximum state prison sentence of 10 years, or a sentence to a County Jail/House of Correction for a maximum of 2 ½ years, or a maximum fine of $5,000, or both incarceration and a fine. Note: As I’ve said elsewhere on this website, a state prison sentence is not the same as a sentence to a County Jail/House of Correction. County Jail sentences usually run no longer than 2 ½ years, and inmates there are generally incarcerated for more minor offenses. State prison is very different: Sentences are much longer than 2 ½ years, the inmates imprisoned there are generally being incarcerated for very violent offenses, and the overall environment is very severe. Take our word for it: You don’t want to end up there.

Since you’re reading this page, it may be that you have already been arrested for this offense, or fear that you are being investigated by police and that you might be arrested in the near future. Either way, click on the “Free Arrest Tip Sheet” to the left of this page, to download a FREE list of tips on how to handle the immediate aftermath of an arrest in Massachusetts.

ADDITIONAL PENALTIES AND PUNISHMENT

When certain additional factors are present with the charge of Massachusetts Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, the punishment following a conviction is increased substantially. The penalties escalate when one of the following four additional factors are present:

  • The defendant inflicted serious bodily injury on the victim
  • The defendant committed the underlying assault and battery against a victim who the defendant knew or had reason to know was pregnant when the incident occurred
  • The defendant committed the underlying assault and battery against a person that the defendant knew had an Abuse Prevention Order (Restraining Order) or a Harassment Prevention Order against him or her when the incident occurred
  • The defendant was age 17 years or older at the time of the incident, and committed the underlying assault and battery against a victim who was age 14 or less

If any one of these additional factors above is present, the punishment increases to a maximum of 15 years’ incarceration in state prison, or a sentence to a County Jail/House of Correction for a maximum of 2 ½ years, and a maximum fine of $10,000.00

It doesn’t end there. An additional factor that results in more severe punishment is when a defendant is convicted of committing an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a person who is age 60 years or older, for the second time. For this second offense, a defendant is subject to incarceration of up to 10 years in state prison, or a maximum of 2 ½ years in a County Jail/House of Correction, or a maximum fine of $1,000.00. Upon conviction of a second offense, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of at least 2 years.

MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE IN YOUR ASSAULT AND BATTERY WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Since you’re visiting this page right now, the chances are that you or someone you care about has either already been arrested, or you are being investigated by police and fear that you might soon be arrested. If either is true, things are already bad enough. Don’t make them worse by making a serious mistake in who you choose as your defense attorney.

We know how to very aggressively and successfully defend charges of Massachusetts Assault and Battery With a Dangerous Weapon Charges and we know how to make sure you are legally protected to the maximum extent possible. We have been very successful in either dismissing these charges altogether, or in reducing the charges to eliminate the exposure to more severe state prison sentences. When that is not possible, we take our cases to a jury or bench trial, and our track record speaks for itself. Call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Ph.: (781) 320-0062, or at Ph.: (617) 285-3600, or contact us online here for a free initial consultation.

Westwood and Boston, Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer William D. Kickham has appeared as a legal analyst on a variety of respected media, including Court TV (now In Session on HLN,) Fox News TV-25/Boston, The Boston Herald, WBZ-AM Radio 1030, WCVB-TV5/Boston, Nightside With Dan Rea, Greater Boston With Emily Rooney, Money Matters Radio/Boston, and The Metro Newspaper/Boston. Attorney William D. Kickham is turned to by respected reporters and media organizations in Massachusetts as an authoritative expert in the field of criminal defense law, and the case results he produces for his clients attest to this. For more information on Attorney William D. Kickham’s professional biography, click here Call us today at Ph.: (781) 320-0062, or Ph.: (617) 285-3600, to arrange for a FREE initial consultation of your case. If the matter is not an emergency, you can email us here for a free initial consultation. We respond very rapidly, and your free consultation is completely confidential.

You have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain by calling us. It’s the smartest move you can make right now.