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Assaulting a Public Employee/Police Officer

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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 harm 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 or public employee in Boston, that doesn't mean you have to be convicted.

Assault & 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 to the assault of an off-duty police officer. Similarly, for other public employees, when they are not performing their public office duties, they are treated like regular people in assault and battery cases.

For a conviction of intentional assault and battery on a public employee, the Commonwealth is required to prove six facts beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Commonwealth must prove that:

  1. The defendant made physical contact with the victim, without having any excuse or right to do so;
  2. The touching came through reckless conduct or was intentional;
  3. The touching was either done without consent or was likely to cause bodily harm;
  4. The alleged victim was a public employee or police officer;
  5. The defendant knew the person was a public employee or police officer; 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 was no consent or if the alleged victim was unable to consent. Unintentional assault and battery can also be unlawful if the defendant engaged in actions that amounted to reckless conduct, which caused 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, individuals with an intellectual disability, and elderly or disabled persons.

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

Penalties for Assault & Battery on an Officer

The penalties for assault and battery upon a public employee include up to 2½ 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 & 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 state prison, detention facility, or jail. This includes assault by means of a bodily substance including feces, urine, semen, mucus, saliva, and blood. 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 & 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 ranging from 90 days up to 2½ years, and a fine of between $500 and $5,000.

Defenses to Assault & Battery Charges

Accidental touching is not intentional battery; only conscious or deliberate touching is charged. Negligent actions generally do not constitute reckless assault and battery. A Boston defense lawyer with extensive experience defending clients charged with these offenses will be able to do an in-depth investigation into the case and advise their client of their options and any viable defenses. Contact Dhar Law, LLP today at (617) 829-9747 for a free consultation with our skilled defense lawyers.

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