Assault is one of the most common crimes people are accused of committing in Massachusetts. Many acts fall under the umbrella of assault, and charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies that carry significant penalties. Merely because a person is charged with an assault offense does not mean they will be found guilty, though, as in many cases, there are viable defenses the defendants can assert to avoid a conviction. If you are accused of an assault offense, it is smart to meet with an attorney to discuss your options for seeking a favorable outcome. Attorney Gary Pacella of the Pacella Law, P.C. is a skilled New Bedford assault crime defense lawyer who takes pride in helping people fight to protect their rights and reputation, and if you hire him, he will advocate aggressively on your behalf. Mr. Pacella’s office is in New Bedford, and he frequently defends people in criminal matters in New Bedford, Wareham, Fairhaven, and Fall River.Assault Crimes Under Massachusetts Law
Under Massachusetts law, people that touch other individuals without their consent can be charged with assault and battery. In order to establish the guilt of a person accused of assault and battery, the prosecution must demonstrate that the person touched the alleged victim, they intended to touch them, and that the touching was either offensive or likely to cause bodily harm. Any physical contact, even if it is slight, constitutes a touching. The touching may be indirect, like the setting in motion of an object, or direct, but it must be purposeful to constitute an assault. In other words, accidental touchings generally do not qualify as assault.
The prosecution must establish each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, they must offer evidence that is so compelling that, upon reviewing the evidence, a reasonable person could come to no other conclusion than that the defendant committed the charged offense. In addition to the general assault and battery crime, there are numerous other assault offenses in Massachusetts, including assault and battery upon an elderly person, assault, and battery upon a child, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. While each assault and battery crime requires the prosecution to prove different elements, the burden of proof remains the same.Defending Assault Crime Charges
Although the exact defenses a person charged with an assault crime can assert will vary depending on the facts of their case, some defenses are more effective than others. For example, in many assault and battery cases, the defendant will argue that they were acting in self-defense. Under Massachusetts law, a person can defend themselves if they believe they are under attack or reasonably believe they are about to be attacked and their physical safety is at immediate risk. People can only use the amount of force necessary for their protection, however, and have a duty to retreat before resorting to physical force.
If a person accused of assault argues they were acting in self-defense, the burden shifts to the prosecution to show beyond a reasonable doubt that they were not acting in self-defense. In other words, the prosecution must show either that they were not under attack or that their belief that they were about to be attacked was not reasonable, that they did not take the steps necessary to avoid an altercation before resorting to physical force, or that they used greater force than was necessary.Speak to an Experience New Bedford Assault Crime Defense Lawyer
Defendants in assault cases may feel as if their chances of being acquitted are slim, but prosecutors must meet a high burden of proof to establish guilt, and if they cannot, the judge or jury should render a verdict in favor of the defendant. If you are accused of an assault offense, it is prudent to speak to an attorney about your available defenses. Gary Pacella is an experienced New Bedford criminal defense attorney, and if you engage his services, he can help you protect your rights and seek the best legal result available under the facts of your case. Mr. Pacella’s office is located in New Bedford, and he regularly represents people accused of assault crimes in New Bedford and Fairhaven, Fall River, and Wareham. You can contact Mr. Pacella through the online form or by calling 508-525-4147 to set up a free and confidential conference.