Massachusetts Domestic Violence Laws
Note: If you're in an emergency situation, call 911.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts defines domestic violence as almost any criminal act of abuse committed by one "family or household member" against another. "Abuse" is defined as:
- attempting to cause or causing physical harm;
- placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; or
- causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress.
Domestic violence abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual in nature or can also involve economic control, and neglect. Examples of crimes associated with domestic abuse include assault and battery, violating a protective order, and witness intimidation.
Massachusetts Domestic Violence Laws at a Glance
Usually when you have a question, you want a quick and easy answer. But, laws are usually written in a way that requires a decent amount of time to interpret and understand. Reading a summary of the laws in plain English can speed things along. The following table highlights the main provisions of Massachusetts domestic violence laws and provides links to relevant statutes.
Massachusetts General Laws:
A person who commits an assault or assault and battery on a family or household member can be sentenced to:
It's also possible for the defendant to be ordered to complete a certified batterer's intervention program.
|Family/Household Member Definition||
Family or household members are people who:
The court will look at the following factors to determine if two people have been in a "substantive dating or engagement" relationship:
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
What Protections Are Available in Addition to Criminal Prosecution?
There are several remedies and legal protections available for victims of domestic violence in Massachusetts. These may include:
- Address Confidentiality Program (ACP): Victims can get a legal substitute address (usually a post office box) to use in place of their physical address; this address can be used whenever an address is required by public agencies. First class mail sent to the substitute address is forwarded to the victim's actual address.
- Protective Orders: Victims of domestic violence can apply for a protective order, also called a "209A order."
- Civil Lawsuit: The victim may file a civil lawsuit to recover losses and expenses such as medical bills or pain and suffering damages.
- Orders Relating to Child Custody, Child Support, or Spousal Support: These may be modified to prevent any further incidence of violence between spouses, children, or other persons.
There are resources available for people affected by domestic violence or abuse. One such resource is the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.
Massachusetts Domestic Violence Laws: Related Resources
Please visit the links listed below to learn more information related to this topic.
Have Questions About Massachusetts Domestic Violence Laws? Talk to an Attorney
Domestic laws can sometimes get complicated, so it's natural to have questions. If you do have questions about how Massachusetts domestic violence laws apply to your specific situation, it's a good idea to consult an experienced domestic violence lawyer near you.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.