Domestic Violence: Is it a Misdemeanor or Felony?

by | Oct 27, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Domestic Violence: Is it a Misdemeanor or Felony?

In Massachusetts, domestic violence crimes may be considered a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the crimes. A report of domestic violence is always treated seriously because if not, a tragedy can occur. In this article, John B. Seed explores the type of charge these crimes face and potential courses of action.

If you are in the New Bedford, MA area and are looking for an experienced defense attorney, contact Attorney John B. Seed to set up a free consultation. 

What is Defined as Domestic Violence?

According to the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, abuse is defined as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

  • Attempting to cause or causing physical harm;
  • Placing a family or household member in fear of imminent physical harm;
  • Causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or coercion.

Family or household members are considered those who are or were married to one another, are or were living together, and are or were related by blood or marriage.

If you are living in fear of domestic violence, do not hesitate to reach out to National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or visit their website for additional resources.

What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor & Felony in Massachusetts?

The best way to determine whether or not a crime can be considered a felony is to search for the term “state prison” in Massachusetts General Laws. In Massachusetts, a felony is a crime that a state prison sentence can punish, including life in prison. At the same time, a misdemeanor is an offense that a state prison sentence cannot punish. 

What are the Penalties for Domestic Violence Convictions?

The penalties for a domestic violence conviction are severe. It is essential to know your rights and understand the potential outcome of your case.

Assault as a Misdemeanor

A misdemeanor is the milder of the domestic violence charges; however, it is crucial to note that domestic violence charges are rarely misdemeanors. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge faces up to two and a half years in prison, a fine of $1,000 or less, or a combination of both time behind bars and a fine. It is important to note that a misdemeanor may also make it difficult to find housing or a job, and if you are not a citizen of the United States, you may face deportation.

Assault as a Felony

Domestic violence is a severe offense, and it is treated as such. Felony convictions of domestic violence charges are extreme. The penalty can rise to five years, and a fine can increase to $5,000. Several factors determine whether your case is a felony or not, including:

  • The severity of the case
  • If a dangerous weapon was involved (which can also include a physical body part such as an arm or foot)
  • If there are any prior counts on the defendant’s record

How Do False Allegations Play A Role?

For many families throughout Massachusetts, domestic violence is a genuine concern. However, false allegations are also a concern. False allegations can be made for several reasons against the defendant. 

For example, an ex-spouse may claim domestic violence to gain advantages in a custody or divorce dispute. A resentful teen may file a false charge against a step-parent. Cases like these are why diligent defense attorneys like John B. Seed are necessary for your case; call 508-999-1399 (click to call) today for a free initial consultation.

What Is My Next Step?

Contacting a Top Massachusetts Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one was charged with domestic violence, you will need the help of an experienced defense attorney. The law offices of John B. Seed are dedicated to helping, protecting, and defending our clients in court. With vast knowledge and experience, contact our domestic assault attorneys today for more information.