Assault With Intent

In most states, assault with intent is considered to have taken place when one person either does, or attempts to deliberately strike another person. In some cases, assault with intent can also be charged when someone acts in a threatening manner to another person in an attempt to cause fear of immediate harm. The severity of a charge of assault, and thus the seriousness of the penalties associated with it will depend on the harm that is done to another person, and the level of the assault, such as whether or not it involved the use of a weapon.

In Massachusetts, there are various types of assault with intent:

  • Assault with intent to commit a felony
  • Assault with intent to murder, maim or disfigure
  • Assault and battery in order to collect a loan
  • Assault by force or violence with intent to steal
  • Assault and battery against an elderly person (more than 60 years old)
  • Assault and battery against a public or government worker
  • Assault and battery against a pregnant woman

These are covered by sections 15, 29, 20, 13A, 13C, 13D 1/2, 13I and 13K of Chapter 265 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Examples of Assault with Intent

Defining assault with intent is a complicated matter, as the definition for assault itself can vary as mentioned previously in the case of Massachusetts. In most circumstances, assault is regarded as an attempt to cause injury or harm to someone else, and in some cases it might include threatening behavior or verbal threats that are used against others to cause emotional harm.

For a conviction of a charge of assault with intent to be prosecuted successfully, it's important to note that there is an act requirement. While contact is not always necessary for an assault offense to be successfully prosecuted, a conviction for assault with intent still requires some criminal act. The types of acts that fall into the category of assault can vary drastically, but most assaults require a direct or overt act that would be any reasonable person in fear of their safety. Because of this, most states indicate that spoken words alone cannot be enough of an act to constitute assault unless the offender in question backs those words up with an act or actions that make the victim fear for their safety.

Furthermore, for a conviction of assault to be successfully prosecuted, an individual only needs to have what is known as general intent. In other words, this means that although people cannot accidentally assault another person, it can be shown that the offender intended the actions to make up an assault. For example, if an individual chooses to act in a way that is considered dangerous to other people, this could be enough to make up a charge of assault with intent.

Assault with Intent Punishment

In Massachusetts, the punishment for the various kinds of assault with intent are:

  • Assault with intent to commit a felony - state prison for not more than 10 years or fine of not more than $1000 plus jail time of not more than 2.5 years
  • Assault with intent to murder, maim or disfigure - state prison for not more than 10 years or fine of not more than $1000 plus jail time of not more than 2.5 years
  • Assault and battery in order to collect a loan - state prison for 3 to 5 years for first offense; state prison for 5 to 10 years for subsequent offenses
  • Assault by force or violence with intent to steal - state prison for not more than 10 years
  • Assault and battery against an elderly or disabled person - state prison for not more than 3 years or fine of not more than $1000, or both fine and imprisonment; with bodily injury, state prison for not more than 5 years or fine of not more than $1000, or both fine and imprisonment; with serious bodily injury, state prison for not more than 10 years or fine of not more than $5000, or both fine and imprisonment
  • Assault and battery against a public or government worker - imprisonment of 90 days to 2.5 years in a house of correction or fine of $500 to $5000; with attempt to disarm a police officer, imprisonment in state prison of not more than 10 years or fine of not more than $1000 and imprisonment in jail or house of correction for not more than 2.5 years
  • Assault and battery against a pregnant woman - imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 2.5 years or a fine of not more than $1000

Assault with Intent Defenses

  • One particularly common defense that is used in cases of assault, is the self-defense suggestion. Whether the defense in question for any given situation is valid will depend on the opinions of a jury. It's worth noting that a person who is responsible for initiating a fight will not be able to issue a self-defense claim.
  • In some cases, the court may deem that it was reasonable for someone to engage in an act of assault if they were not protecting themselves or another person, but were protecting an item of their own property.
  • One form of defense that can be used in cases of assault with intent convictions is performance of authority and duty.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged

Although anyone charged with assault with intent should be assumed innocent until proven guilty, it's important to get help with your case as soon as possible. The best route is to seek legal advice for your specific circumstances as quickly as possible.

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