What happens if I am charged with domestic assault and battery for Striking a child?

In Massachusetts, a parent CAN be charged with assault and battery for striking their child. A Domestic Assault and Battery is the unconsented touching of any family member, including a child. However, there is a parental exception for an Assault and Battery that happens to a child under limited circumstances.

Many parents recall receive spankings or discipline from their parents that was never criminally punished. But if the police are brought to a residence for a report of Assault and Battery on a child, the police will certainly make an arrest in many cases as the police department policies require an arrest always be made with any domestic disturbance report.

In court, the parent may be able to assert a parental privilege as a defense.

What is Parental Privilege?

Parental privilege in an Assault and Battery involves the following as a defense:

  • That the force used against the child is reasonable.
  • The force is reasonably related to the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the minor,
  • including the punishment or prevention of the minor’s misconduct
  • The force used neither causes or creates substantial risk of causing physical harm beyond fleeting pain or minor transient marks. The law also defines “substantial risk of causing harm” as degredation or mental stress.

The burden is on the government just like in proving a self defense. Meaning they must prove that one of these three prongs do not apply beyond a reasonable doubt. So if you are a parent charged with Domes- tic Assault and Battery and the alleged victim is your child, you may have a parental priviliege to ascertain as a defense. This is often a question of fact for a jury.

If you have any questions about a Domestic Assault and Battery charge. You can call Attorney Delsignore directly at 781-686-5924.