Offensive Battery in Massachusetts

In Commonwealth v. Messina, a Massachusetts appeals court considered a case involving charges of offensive battery. Under G. L. c. 265, § 13A, the Commonwealth is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally touched a victim, without justification or excuse, and this touching occurred without the consent of the victim.

Offensiveness is an element, but it is established by proving lack of consent, not by showing a particular harm to the victim. Proof that there was no consent doesn’t require a victim to explicitly state nonconsent by screaming, asking for help, or even asking the defendant to leave her alone.

The case arose when a 24-year-old victim was working for an animal rescue organization. One morning, while in her work uniform and hat, she left her cell phone in her locker and drove to a grocery store to buy some work items. It was crowded, and she lined up to pay with six or seven people in line before her. Her friend was working at the service desk. The defendant was a stranger who came about one foot from her and stared at her hat. He had the smell of alcohol on his breath. He said hello and asked her questions about where she worked. He walked away to pay at a different register.

The defendant returned to the victim and talked to her about his knowledge of the rescue organization where she worked. The defendant told her that she was pretty and that he liked a full-figured woman. She was uncomfortable. He asked to come to the organization, and she asked whether he was hoping to adopt an animal. He answered no, and eventually they said goodbye to each other. The victim paid for her purchases and waited for the defendant to leave before leaving herself.

When she went to the car the defendant and another man were standing by her car. She stopped. The defendant approached and waved at her. He took her forearm and again told her he thought she was pretty. He asked her on a date and commented on the gay people where he lived. She said she had to return to work, and then the defendant again grabbed her arm and held it and tried to pull her to him. They had an uncomfortable exchange, and she tried to get to her car. The defendant followed and grabbed the door of the driver’s side as she tried to get in. He asked to see her again. The defendant’s friend drove up and told him they should go.

At trial, the defendant didn’t call witnesses or provide evidence. He argued that touching someone’s arm during polite conversation is not a crime. The Appeals Court explained that the jury could have concluded that when the victim told the defendant she had to go back to work while they were standing in the parking lot, she showed a lack of consent, and so the second touch was an offensive touching, a criminal assault, and battery.

If you are charged in Massachusetts with an assault crime, 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

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