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Right of Self Defense in a Massachusetts Assault and Battery Charge

Self Defense is one of the most common defenses to an assault and battery charge in Massachusetts. When someone asserts the defenses of self-defense, the claim is that there was an unconsented to physical touching, which would be a push, a punch or a kick, but that it was justified because the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and the defendant used only enough force to protects against the danger created by the victim.

What types of issues arise when self-defense is raised at trial?

One issue that arises when self-defense is placed into issue at a trial is the background and criminal record of the alleged victim.

In any criminal trial for assault and battery, a defendant is entitled to learn about the extent to which the alleged victim has a criminal record. This is accomplished through a motion to the court for criminal records. What this allows is a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer to admit any convictions, pending cases or even dismissals on the victim’s record into evidence. A criminal defense lawyer gaining access to criminal records receives full access as would a police officer or the judge in the case.

This information helps to discover whether the alleged victim in the case has any prior violent acts. In a case called Commonwealth v. Adjutant, the highest court in Massachusetts, decided that a criminal defense lawyer is entitled to admit prior violent acts of the victim in an assault and battery case to prove who was the first aggressor in the case. The Court implemented some rules to guide how the evidence would come in; these rules are as follows:

  • That a Boston criminal defense attorney, disclose to the Commonwealth any intent to present evidence of prior violent acts; that it be done so in sufficient time before trial so that the Commonwealth can potentially rebut the evidence.
  • That the notice of the intent to rely on prior violent acts be listed on forms that are filled out prior to trial called a pretrial conference report.
In short, what I hope you understand about an assault and battery charge is as follows:
  • These cases can often be resolved short of trial;
  • The victim may have reasons they do not wish to testify.
  • You can assert the right of self-defense
  • The defense attorney should find out the criminal record of the victim and present evidence of the violent character of the victim at trial.
Want to learn more? To learn more about a domestic assault and battery charge in Massachusetts, you can call me directly at 781-686-5924. Related Questions