Boston Domestic Violence Lawyers
Types of Domestic Violence Charges
There are many categories of domestic violence charges including:
- Assault—when a person places a victim in fear of physical harm by words or actions, even if there is no actual physical contact.
- Battery—when a person physically contacts a victim without consent, in a harmful manner.
- Sexual Violence—when a victim has their private body parts touched or is forced to engage in any sexual act without their consent, or against their will, even if they have been in a dating or marital relationship with the accused.Stalking—when a person engages over a period of time, in conduct which seriously alarms or annoys a victim, could cause a victim substantial emotional affliction, or makes a threat to the victim with the intent that they feel imminent fear of harm.
- Violation of a Restraining Order—when a defendant, or any person acting on behalf of a defendant, violates any provision of an active Restraining Order issued by a Court. For example, if a Court Restraining Order does not allow contact of a defendant with their spouse, if the defendant on any person on behalf of the defendant sends a text message or makes a call to the defendant’s spouse, then they may have violated the Restraining Order and could be subject to arrest.
Penalties and Sentencing for Domestic Violence Charges
The severity of the penalty or sentence for domestic violence charges in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will depend on the facts of the case, the background and criminal history of the defendant and the statute under which the defendant was charged.
For example, if a criminal defendant is convicted of violating a Restraining Order or convicted of an Assault & Battery charge, they may be sentenced for up to 2 ½ years in jail (House of Corrections), in addition to a fine of up to $5,000.00. (See M.G.L. Chapter 265 § 13A(a)) A person convicted of Stalking might be sentenced for up to five years in state prison and fines of up to $1,000.00. (See M.G.L. Chapter 265 § 43)
There are a number of factors that can impact the sentence of a criminal defendant convicted of Domestic Violence. Criminal defense lawyers can present evidence of rehabilitation, such as completion of a “Batterer’s Program”, records showing the defendant is actively undergoing a therapy program, in addition to other evidence, that can influence the Court’s decision. (See Massachusetts Sentencing Commission Guidelines, pg. 102, para. 2(ii) (2017)). On the other hand, in Massachusetts, victims are also permitted to make a statement to the Court before a sentence is imposed.
Increased Numbers of Domestic Violence During COVID-19 Pandemic
Unfortunately, the numbers of domestic violence incidents worldwide have risen during the pandemic lockdown (See COVID-19 and domestic violence against women, Journal List, Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection, PMC7295494 (June 15, 2020) citing UN Women . 2020. Violence Against Women and Girls: the Shadow Pandemic, Retrieved May 3, 2020, from United Nations).
Being confined to working and living in small quarters during quarantine, in addition to the financial stress of lost jobs and the limited resources and social support outside the home make the conditions for a perfect storm that have resulted in increased situations of domestic violence.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline has been taking calls from victims who in many cases are isolated in a home with their abuser. On the other hand, there are also some complaints of “domestic violence” that are made because people are angry at each other and want to hurt their partner. Either way you may need help and it is important that you obtain the assistance of the appropriate expert. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24 hours and has chat services if you cannot talk on the phone. At our office we also assist victims with convenient confidential appointments.
Call Today to Schedule an Appointment With One of Our Domestic Violence Criminal Lawyers
At FitzGerald Law Company, our experienced criminal attorneys have represented victims of domestic violence seeking Restraining Orders, U visas (for victims of crime), VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) Immigration petitions (for victims of domestic violence perpetrated by a US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident), as well as defending individuals who have been accused of domestic violence throughout Boston and the state of Massachusetts. Our criminal attorneys take the time to listen empathetically to you about the details of your situation and we can assist with court proceedings or investigations to make sure your rights are protected at all times. To learn more about our legal services related to Domestic Violence and to schedule an initial appointment, please call our Boston Domestic Violence Lawyers today at (617) 303-2600.