Photo by Keira Burton on

In Massachusetts, assault or assault and battery on a family or household member is prohibited by M.G.L. c. 265, ยง 13M.

According to the statute, the alleged victim will be considered a “family or household member” if she and the defendant:

 (i) are or were married to one another,

(ii) have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together or

(iii) are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship

The jury will determined whether a substantive relationship exists between the alleged victim and the defendant (unless the defendant chooses to waive his right to a jury and opts for a bench trial; in which case, the judge will make that determination.)

The statute gives a number of factors that jurors may use when determining if a substantive dating/engagement relationship exists. These factors include:

the length of time of the relationship; the type of relationship;

the frequency of interaction between the parties;

whether the relationship was terminated by either person; and the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.

For the first violation of the statute, a defendant can receive up to 2.5 years in jail and a fine up to $5,000. If the defendant is guilty of a “second or subsequent” violation of the statute, he faces up to 5 years in prison.

Additionally, the statute requires anyone who is convicted of the offense and even those who receive a continuation without a finding (CWOF) on the charge to complete a certified batterer’s program. This program is arduous, requiring the defendant to attend 80 hours of intervention meetings over 40 consecutive weeks.

For more on the program, click the document below: