Crimes defined by law as “violent” differ from state to state. In Massachusetts, a violent crime is considered any criminal act involving physical force, weapons, or verbal threats of violence.

While there is a long list of crimes that fall into the category of violent crimes, they all include harm against others in a variety of manners. The seriousness of the crime and the circumstances end up being two of the factors that will determine whether the crime is considered a misdemeanor or a felony. 

Certain crimes can become felonies based on aggravating factors, such as the extent of the injuries, the age of the alleged victim, or if the alleged victim is disabled or pregnant. Most are able to be resolved in Massachusetts District Courts, while others are strictly under the jurisdiction of the Superior Courts.

Common Violent Crimes in Massachusetts 

Three of the most common of these violent crimes are assault, assault and battery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these entails and what the repercussions of these could be. 


Assault is an intentional act that causes another person to be in fear of imminent bodily harm. In the eyes of the law, the person does not need to be hit or attacked but fear that this is imminent. An assault therefore may be an attempt or intimidation of a hit or attack but a failure to do so. 

Assault is a criminal act prohibited by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 13A. The consequences of breaking this law are usually categorized as a misdemeanor, which carries a potential sentence of two and a half years in the House of Corrections. An assault becomes categorized as “aggravated” when the threat of harm against another person is particularly offensive, such as when the assault is committed using a deadly weapon.

Assault & Battery 

The charge of battery is similar to assault, but it requires that actual physical contact or harm has occurred. While the two crimes were traditionally distinct from each other, many states now refer to simply one crime of “assault and battery.” 

In this violent crime, the prosecution must show that the defendant touched the alleged victim, that the defendant intended to touch the alleged victim, and that the touching was either likely to cause bodily harm, or was offensive. 

The law of assault and battery is established in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, Section 13A, and is prosecuted in Massachusetts District Courts. Assault and battery is a misdemeanor that carries a potential sentence of two and a half years in the House of Corrections. 

Additionally, assault and battery can be broken down further into Intentional Assault and Battery, and Reckless Assault and Battery. The difference between these two includes the motivation of the act – whether it was intentional or reckless behavior. 

Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon

This violent crime includes actual physical harm but with an object that may be deemed dangerous such as a shoe when used to kick someone, a pillow when used to suffocate someone or a weapon commonly used to harm someone such as a knife or gun. Practically any object can qualify as a dangerous weapon so long as the district attorney proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the instrument was used as a weapon in a dangerous or potentially dangerous fashion. 

Assault with a Dangerous Weapon carries a maximum sentence of state prison for not more than ten years or a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or imprisonment in jail for not more than two and one-half years.

If you find yourself in legal trouble in regard to violent crimes and need legal support contact us at Patrick Conway Law Offices.