On this blog, one of my goals is to educate the general public about the law and how it can affect them. As a Dedham, Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, I know that most people have a lot of misconceptions about certain laws.
For example, most people think that “assaulting” someone, in an assault-and-battery charge, means hitting or striking them. Not true. In general, “assault” means a threat of violence, and not the actual bodily contact itself. Furthermore, a “battery” refers to the actual physical contact of another person — without his or her consent. The upshot? No actual physical harm has to result for a Massachusetts assault and battery charge to be filed.
Here is an interesting twist on how assault and battery charges can be brought in Massachusetts. There was a recent development last week in which a Franklin High School student videotaped an assault by one student on another. It resulted in not one, but two students being charged with assault and battery – the one who actually carried out the assault, and the accomplice student who made the videotape of it. This can serve to illustrate that you don’t necessarily have to be the actual assailant– in order to be charged with the underlying offense.
Here’s what allegedly happened: A student at Franklin High School – let’s call him Student #1 – attacked another – let’s call him Student #2. Student #1 allegedly waited for Student #2 in the hallway, reportedly because he thought that Student #2 had been “talking trash” about him. Student #1 “sucker-punched” Student #2. The incident was recorded on video by Student #3, and later posted on Twitter. Police said that the presence of Student #3, making a recording of the attack, proves that it was premeditated and not spontaneous. In legal terms, Students #1 and #3 were part of a “conspiracy” and “joint enterprise,”, and thus, both were charged with Massachusetts assault and battery.
Students, especially in high school, should remember that physical confrontations are not always “simple fights.” They can have enormous legal consequences and ramifications that can stay on your record and haunt you for the rest of your life.