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Victim’s State of Mind in Massachusetts Assault and Battery Cases

u-s--supreme-court-hallway-658254-m.jpgIn Commonwealth v. Parker, a defendant was convicted of assault and battery, plus indecent assault and battery, for non-consensually touching the victim. He appealed, arguing the evidence was insufficient to convict him.

The case arose during a time when the defendant and victim lived separately in a condominium building. In 2010, the victim sought a restraining order against a third party on an unrelated case. The defendant offered to go with her to court. The victim agreed, and they drove to court separately.

When they left court, the defendant grabbed her hand as they walked to her car, and then asked for a ride to his car. The defendant grabbed the victim and kissed her. The victim wiped her mouth, spat, asked him to stop, and asked him to leave her alone.

She agreed to give him a ride to his car so that he would leave, but as they pulled up to the defendant’s car he kept repeating that he liked her and kissing her. She asked him to stop and he asked her to tell him she liked it. He touched her in two private areas, and she had to leave the car. He started laughing. She told him to get out of the car and finally left. Then she went to the police.

The defendant was indicted for two counts of assault and battery and two counts of indecent assault on someone over age 14. He moved for a required finding, and it was denied. The jury found him guilty for three counts, and he was sentenced. He appealed on the grounds that the court should have granted his motion for a required finding.

The appellate court explained that when reviewing a motion for required finding, it is necessary to examine whether there was enough evidence for the case to go to a jury and whether a rational jury could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

When the battery in an assault and battery charge is an offensive touching, the government must prove the defendant intentionally touched a victim non-consensually. For a charge of indecent assault and battery on someone over age 14, the government must prove (1) intentional touching of the victim’s private areas and (2) lack of consent under a totality of circumstances.

The appellate court determined that the victim’s testimony was sufficient for the jury to decide beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crimes. The jury could find that, based on the total circumstances including the victim’s protestations and behavior, she didn’t consent.

The defendant also argued the judge’s jury instructions related to consent were erroneous in telling the jury to consider the victim’s testimony to determine state of mind. The appellate court explained that evidence of the victim’s state of mind after a crime is admissible if relevant to a contested issue in a case. The jury is allowed to consider the victim’s testimony about her mental state during and after the touching to determine if she consented. The appellate court affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

The consequences of an assault and battery conviction can be severe. If you are charged with assault, contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy today to discuss the criminal charges. Call us at 617-367-0450 or contact us through this website.

More Blog Posts:

Assault and Battery Causing Serious Injury in Massachusetts, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published January 14, 2015
Receiving Stolen Property in Massachusetts, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published December 15, 2014