M.G.L. Chapter 265, Section 13M
It is a crime to commit an assault and battery on a member of a person’s own family or household. To convict a defendant of this offense, the Commonwealth must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt:
- the victim and the defendant were “family or household members”;
- the defendant touched the body of the alleged victim, without having legal justification or excuse;
- the defendant intended to touch the body of the victim; and
- the defendant’s touching of the victim was either likely to cause bodily harm to the victim, or was done without the victim’s consent.
Under the law, two persons are “family or household members” if the alleged victim and the defendant:
- are or were married to each other;
- have a child in common; and/or
- are or have been in a “substantive dating relationship.”
To determine whether the parties were in a “substantive dating relationship,” a jury may consider (1) the length of time of the relationship; (2) the type of relationship; (3) the frequency of interaction between the defendant and the alleged victim; and (4) the length of time that has elapsed since the termination of the relationship. Notably, the alleged victim and the defendant’s relationship may qualify as a “substantive dating relationship” under the law, even if the relationship was not exclusive.
If the alleged victim was pregnant at the time of the alleged incident, the defendant may be charged with assault and battery on a pregnant victim, G.L. c. 265, § 13A(b)(ii), and may be subject to harsher penalties.