Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Massachusetts

Under Massachusetts’ laws, any person who uses a weapon to commit assault (the attempted use of physical force, or demonstrating an intent to use physical force), or assault and battery (physical contact that is unwanted or likely to cause harm), can be convicted of a crime. For example, firing a gun at someone (but missing) is assault. Actually shooting someone is assault and battery (sometimes just called a battery). Assault and battery is often punished more severely than assault alone.

This article discusses assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. For more information on assault and battery, see Massachusetts Assault and Battery Laws and Massachusetts Aggravated Assault Laws.

Assault with a Dangerous Weapon

Assault with a dangerous weapon is punished more severely if the victim is age 60 or older.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 15B.)

Assault and Battery With a Dangerous Weapon

Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is punished more severely if the victim:

  • is age 60 or older
  • sustains serious bodily injury
  • is pregnant and the defendant knows or has reason to know of the pregnancy
  • has obtained a restraining order and the defendant knows that he or she is under such an order, or
  • is a child under the age of 14 and the defendant is age 18 or older.

Serious bodily injury creates a substantial risk of death or causes permanent disfigurement, loss, or impairment of any part of the body. For example, most gunshot wounds would be considered serious bodily injury.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 15A.)

Dangerous Weapons

A dangerous weapon is any instrument or instrumentality so constructed or so used as to be likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Guns and knives are dangerous weapons, but so are normally innocent objects if they are used in a dangerous manner. For example, a lit cigar becomes a dangerous weapon if it is used to burn someone. Even a dog or vehicle can be a dangerous weapon if used to attack another person.

(Mass. Crim. Model Jury Instructions, No. 6.300, Commonwealth v. Fettes, 835 N.E.2d 639 (2005).)

Assault by Hypodermic Needle

Assault by hypodermic needle is punished more severely than simple assault, as is assault and battery with a hypodermic needle.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 15C.)

Assault With Intent to Commit a Felony

Assaults that accompany certain felonies carry significant sentences. For example, an assault that is committed by a person who is armed with a dangerous weapon and breaks into someone else's house in order to commit another felony (such as rape or kidnapping) is punished by a very long prison term.

Assaults with a dangerous weapon committed with the intent to rob or kill are also punished more severely.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § § 18, 18A.)

Assault and Battery by Discharge of Firearm

Committing or attempting to commit assault and battery by discharging a firearm, large capacity weapon, rifle, shotgun, sawed-off shotgun, or machine gun are is punished more severely than simple assault and battery.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § § 15E, 15F.)

Punishment

Assault with a dangerous weapon is punishable by up to five years in prison, two-and-a-half years in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. If the victim is age 60 or older, assault with a dangerous weapon is punishable by up to five years in prison, two-and-a-half years in jail or a fine of up to $1,000, and second or subsequent offenses are punishable by a minimum of two years’ imprisonment and the defendant cannot be released or eligible for parole or probation until serving the minimum sentence.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 15B.)

Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is punishable by up to ten years in prison, two-and-a-half years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both imprisonment and a fine. If the victim is pregnant, a child under the age of 14, has obtained a restraining order against the defendant, or sustains serious bodily injury, the assault is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, two-and-a-half years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 15A.)

If the victim is age 60 or older, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is by up to ten years in prison, two-and-a-half years in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. Second or subsequent offenses are punishable by a minimum of two years’ imprisonment and the defendant cannot be released or eligible for parole or probation until serving the minimum sentence.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 15A.)

Assault with a hypodermic needle is punishable by up to ten years in prison, two-and-a-half years in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 15C.)

Assault and battery with a hypodermic needle is punishable to fifteen years in prison, two-and-a-half years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 15C.)

Assault with a dangerous weapon in a house with intent to commit a felony is punishable by ten years to life in prison, and the defendant must serve a minimum of five years. If the weapon is a firearm, shotgun, rifle, or assault weapon, then the crime is punishable by at least ten years in prison and the defendant must serve the minimum term.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 18A.)

Assault with a dangerous weapon committed with the intent to rob or kill is punishable by up to twenty years’ imprisonment. If the weapon is a firearm, shotgun, rifle, machine gun, or assault weapon, the assault is punishable by five to twenty years’ imprisonment (ten to twenty if the victim is age 60 or older).

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 18.)

Committing assault and battery by discharging a firearm, large capacity weapon, rifle, shotgun, sawed-off shotgun, or machine gun is punishable to twenty years in prison, two-and-a-half years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 15E.)

Attempting to commit assault and battery by discharging a firearm, large capacity weapon, rifle, shotgun, sawed-off shotgun, or machine gun is punishable to fifteen years in prison, two-and-a-half years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.

(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, § 15F.)

Getting Legal Advice and Counsel

A conviction for assault or assault and battery with a dangerous weapon can result in time in jail or prison, a fine, and a serious criminal record. If you are charged with a crime, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to tell you how your case is likely to be treated in court, depending on the judge and prosecutor assigned to your case and the facts. With an attorney’s help, you can hopefully obtain the best possible outcome in your case.

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