Assaulting a Police Officer

Any allegation of assault and battery is a serious charge. For some people who have a run in with the police, even if they didn't hit anyone, they may end up with a charge of assaulting a police officer. Trying to resist handcuffs being placed on your wrists, or pushing back against an overly aggressive cop may be enough for you to be arrested. If you have been arrested for assaulting a police officer in Boston, that doesn't mean you have to be convicted.

Assault and Battery Upon Public Employees

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts makes it a crime for anyone to commit assault and battery upon any public employee when they are engaged in the performance of their duties at the time. This means that, in the case of a police officer, this provision applies to an on-duty cop, but not against assault the the police officer is off duty. Similarly for other public employees, when they are not performing their public office duties, they are treated like other people in assault and battery cases.

For a conviction of intentional assault and battery on a public employee, the Commonwealth must prove 6 things beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The defendant touched the victim, without having any right or excuse to do so;
  2. The touching was intentional, or came through reckless conduct;
  3. The touching was either likely to cause bodily harm, or was done without consent;
  4. The alleged victim was a police officer or public employee;
  5. The defendant knew the person was a police officer or public employee; and
  6. The alleged victim was engaged in the performance of their duties at the time of the incident.

Battery can come from merely touching someone. It does not matter if the defendant did not intend to cause injury. Even non harmful touching is battery if there is no consent, or the alleged victim was unable to consent. Unintentional assault and battery can also be unlawful if the defendant engaged in actions which amounted to reckless conduct which cause bodily injury to an officer.

Who is Considered a Public Employee?

A public employee may include state employees, or those persons performing services for, or holding an office in a state or local agency. This includes any department of state or local government, authority, district, commission, instrumentality or agency. This may apply to firefighters, teachers, transit workers, court personnel, and other civil service employees. Construction contractors are not considered state employees.

Public employees are not the only ones who get special treatment under Massachusetts assault and battery laws. There are also special provisions for children under the age of 14, a person with an intellectual disability, and elderly or disabled persons.

Ambulance drivers and correctional officers may fall under the designation as a public employee. However, there are separate legal provisions which apply to anyone who assaults or commits battery against a person in those professions.

Assault and Battery on an Officer Penalties

The penalties for assault and battery upon a public employee include up to 2 ½ years in a house of correction, and a fine of between $500 and $5,000. Assault and battery on a police officer may also prevent you from being able to own a firearm.

Assault and Battery on a Correctional Officer

The penalties are more severe for assault and battery on a correctional officer, volunteer, or employee at a correctional facility, including any jail, detention facility or state prison. This includes assault by means of a bodily substance including blood, saliva, mucous, semen, urine or feces. Penalties include up to 10 years in state prison. Where the individual is already in prison, the sentence will be added on after they serve their current sentence.

Assault and Battery on an EMT or Ambulance Driver

Assault or battery on an emergency medical technician, health care provider, ambulance operator or attendant while they are providing treatment in the line of duty is punishable by imprisonment from 90 days up to 2 ½ years, and a fine of between $500 and $5,000.

Defenses to Assault and Battery Charges

Accidental touching is not intentional battery, only conscious or deliberate touching. Negligent actions do not come up to the level of reckless assault and battery. A criminal defense lawyer with experience defending clients charged with animal cruelty will be able to do an in-depth investigation into the case, and advise their client of their options and any defenses. Contact the law firm of Dhar Law LLP in Boston today at 617-391-0592.