Domestic violence is a crime in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Domestic violence can occur in all sorts of situations, but generally involves family members or those who were once romantically involved. This can involve very intense and conflicting feelings between people that can quickly erupt into threats of violence.
At Dhar Law, LLP, we provide legal defense for domestic violence matters. Call our lawyers today at 617-391-0592.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence occurs when someone causes physical harm, attempted physical harm, creates fear of imminent physical harm, or engages in unwanted sexual contact with family and household members.
What Kind of Harm Would Be Considered Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence does not always require actual violent action. Other actions can be considered abuse as defined by state law, which includes:
- causing physical harm;
- attempting to cause physical harm;
- placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; and
- causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress.
Who is Considered a Family and Household Member?
Family and household members include more than just immediate family, or those who live under one roof. For the purposes of the law, this includes persons who:
- are or were married to one another;
- are or were residing together in the same household;
- are or were related by blood or marriage;
- have a child together (whether they ever lived together or not); or
- are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship.
This broad definition could include a spouse, domestic partner, former spouse or domestic partner, current or ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, father, mother, cousin, and even a former roommate.
Massachusetts has a mandatory arrest policy when it comes to domestic violence. If a police officer has probable cause to believe that someone has "abused" a "household or family member," then the officer must make an arrest. Even if someone called the police, but later changed their mind, and they no longer want to press charges, the police must still make an arrest if they believe domestic violence has occurred.
Domestic covers a wide variety of suspected crimes or violations including: assault, battery, stalking, sexual assault, emotional or verbal abuse, child abuse; kidnapping, false imprisonment; or dating violence. Depending on the crime, and any past criminal record, the charge could be a misdemeanor or a felony. However, even a misdemeanor domestic violence charge will result in an arrest.
What is a 209A Protective Order?
A 209A protective order is a civil order that is intended to offer protection from physical harm, abuse, or sexual harm by force or threat of harm from a family or household member. Also known as a restraining order, it is issued by the court to prohibit someone from taking certain actions, including approaching or contacting a specific person.
In some cases, a court may issue a mutual protective order to prevent both sides from approaching or contacting each other.
What are the Penalties for Domestic Violence?
Penalties related to domestic violence may depend on the underlying abuse or assault, or violation of a protective order.
Assault and battery: Domestic assault and battery may result in fines of up to $1,000 and up to 2 and a half years in prison. In some situations, the jail time may be greater, Where there was serious bodily injury; if there was a restraining order; or the victim is pregnant and there was reason to know the victim was pregnant, penalties can increase to jail time of up to 5 years, and fines of up to $5,000.
Stalking: Stalking may result in fines of up to $1,000 and up to 5 years in prison.
Violating a 209A restraining order: Violation of an abuse prevention protective order can result in penalties, even where no abuse took place. This can include a sentence of up to two and a half years in jail, and fines of up to $5,000.
Additional penalties: In domestic violence cases, the court also has discretion to issue a number of order and restrictions. These orders could include: an anger management program; substance abuse management, certified batterer intervention program; a restraining or no-contact order; supervised visitation; fees and monetary support; GPS tracking device; and child custody.
What are Some Possible Defenses to a Charge of Domestic Violence?
If false allegations were made, a defense attorney can point out inconsistencies in the accusers statements, or call other witnesses to corroborate the accused's version of the facts. Another possible defense may include a claim of self-defense, or the defense of another, such as protecting one's children.
If you are charged with domestic violence in Boston, MA, you may not know how to respond. You may believe that there was no harm done, or that another person was really the one responsible. To be labeled with domestic violence can affect your job opportunities, and your standing in the community. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the difficult road ahead. We may be able to clarify the individual issues facing a client, identify the elements of the case, and defend their client in court. Call our law firm today at 617-391-0592.