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Indecent Assault & Battery Penalties

Penalties for indecent assault and battery include potential jail time in a house of correction or state prison if the case is indicted. If you have no record, an indecent assault and battery will typically remain in the district court.

You face a maximum potential of 5 year sentence in state prison or 2 1⁄2 years in jail, and would have to register as a sex offender if convicted. Even if you have no record, a charge of indecent assault and battery if proven after trial, could very well result in jail time. This is because during sentencing in this type of trial, the victim will typically give a statement and would likely request jail time for the defendant. While the court does not have to honor a victim’s request for sentencing, it does have a substantial impact on how the judge will decide what the appropriate sentence is in a case.

Defenses to an Indecent Assault & Battery Charge

In some cases of indecent assault and battery, the prosecutor may be willing to amend the charge to just assault and battery. This takes the charge out of the sex offense category and would no longer require you to register as a sex offender. If the case is continued without a finding, it would technically not be a conviction. But in a case where there is an amendment or a charge reduction, it is likely that the government would look for a guilty finding and some length of probation. Any reduction in charge is a significant benefit to a defendant and avoids the risks and uncertainties in a trial.

Indecent assault and battery cases are considered sex offense cases and are therefore complicated by nature, for both the defendant and the victim. If you felt that there was a miscommunication or misunderstanding between you and the victim, a defense attorney can help present your side of the story to the jury. A defendant may have a defense of an accidental to touching if it was in a crowed public area. Other defenses could be that the victim misidentified you as the person that committed the offense. There are many new identification cases in Massachusetts that can assist in your defense.

Charges of indecent assault and battery, in terms of the penalties, can be impacted by the severity of the offense and the age of the victim.

  • If the victim was at least 14 years of age at the time of the offense, there is a maximum of 5 year sentence in state prison or 2 1⁄2 years in jail, and you would have to register as a sex offender if convicted.
  • If the victim was an elder person or someone with a disability, you would be punished for a maximum of 10 years in state prison and maximum of 21 1⁄2 years in a house of correction.

For the defendant to be convicted of indecent assault and battery, the Commonwealth must prove four items beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That the victim was at least 14 years old at the time of the offense.
  2. That the defendant intentionally touched the victim, without justification or an excuse.
  3. That the touching was “indecent”- defined as an action that is considered offensive by standards of society and involved the defendant touching the victim’s “private” bodily areas –clothed or unclothed- such as the buttocks, genital region or the breasts (on females).

Common Issues in Indecent Assault & Battery Charges

The factor of consenting is a significant part of the charge. In some cases, the victim’s judgment may have been impaired in some way, whether due to a mental condition, alcohol, sleep unconsciousness or helplessness, so whether or not they actually consented could be could be a viable defense for that case.

What if I was drunk?

The concept of “consent” also considers the capacity of the defendant at the time of the offense, and whether he or she was able to evaluate the situation and understand that the victim was not consenting, or not fit to consent. This means that the Commonwealth must prove that not only was the victim unable to give or refuse consent, but that the defendant should have reasonably known this at the time.

Sex crimes are considered very seriously in Massachusetts and the consequences of registering on the sex offender registry can have devastating effects on your work, family and ability to find housing. It is extremely important that you consult with a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney to find out the defenses to your case and what your next step should be.

What is the next step I should take?

As a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer experienced in handling all types of assault and battery cases, Michael DelSignore will challenge the Commonwealth’s case at each stage of the legal process and will work to win a dismissal or reduction of the charges.

Call us to set up a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss an indecent assault and battery charge. You can call Attorney Delsignore directly at 781-686-5924.