Strangulation or Suffocation

It is a crime in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to strangle or suffocate another individual. Read below to learn about the commonwealth's burden of proof, and your rights under the law.

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Strangulation

In order to prove that the defendant is guilty of strangulation, the Commonwealth must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. the defendant applied substantial pressure on the throat or neck of the alleged victim;
  2. the defendant interfered with the normal breathing or circulation of blood of the alleged victim, without having any right or excuse for doing so; and
  3. that the defendant acted intentionally.

Suffocation

In order to prove that the defendant is guilty of suffocation, the Commonwealth must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. the defendant blocked the nose or mouth of the alleged victim;
  2. the defendant interfered with the normal breathing or circulation of blood of the alleged victim, without having any right or excuse for doing so; and
  3. the defendant acted intentionally.

Strangulation or suffocation may be aggravated by (i) causing serious bodily injury; (ii) knowing or having reason to know that the victim is pregnant; (iii) knowing that there is an abuse prevention or restraining order in effect against the defendant; or (iv) having a prior conviction for strangulation or suffocation. G.L. c. 265, § 15D(c).

These charges often require the support of medical records from the alleged victim’s treatment in addition to testimony from the alleged victim in order to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

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