Massachusetts State Laws

Dating Violence and Domestic Violence

There are no crimes called “dating violence” or “domestic violence” in Massachusetts; however, there are related crimes of assault, battery, and abuse. “Abuse” is defined in Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) chapter 209A § 1 as “the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

(a) attempting to cause or causing physical harm;

(b) placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm;

(c) causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress.”

The phrase “family or household members” is defined as “persons who:

(a) are or were married to one another;

(b) are or were residing together in the same household;

(c) are or were related by blood or marriage;

(d) [have] a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or

(e) are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, which shall be adjudged by district, probate or Boston municipal courts [in] consideration of the following factors:

(1) the length of time of the relationship; (2) the type of relationship; (3) the frequency of interaction between the parties; and (4) if the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.”

Sexual Assault

There is no crime called “sexual assault” in Massachusetts; however, there are related crimes of “indecent assault and battery,” “rape,” and “assault with intent to commit rape.”

Indecent Assault and Battery is a crime under M.G.L. chapter 265:

§ 13B (Indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of fourteen);

§ 13B 1/2 (Commission of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of fourteen during commission of certain other offenses or by mandated reporters);

§ 13B 3/4 Commission of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of fourteen by certain previously convicted offenders);

§ 13F (Indecent assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability); and

§ 13H (Indecent assault and battery on a person fourteen or older).

The term “indecent assault and battery” is not defined by statute.

Rape is a crime under M.G.L. chapter 265:

§ 22 (Rape, generally: “Whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person and compels such person to submit by force and against his will, or compels such person to submit by threat of bodily injury . . . ”);

§ 22A (Rape of a child: “Whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a child under 16, and compels such child to submit by force and against his will or compels such child to submit by threat of bodily injury . . . ”);

§ 22B (Rape of a child during commission of certain offenses or by use of force: “Whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a child under 16, and compels such child to submit by force and against his will or compels such child to submit by threat of bodily injury and . . . “);

§ 22C (Rape of a child through use of force by certain previously convicted offenders: “Whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a child under 16, and compels such child to submit by force and against his will or compels such child to submit by threat of bodily injury, and has been previously convicted of or adjudicated delinquent or as a youthful offender for . . . ”);

§ 23 (Rape and abuse of child: “Whoever unlawfully has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse, and abuses a child under 16 years of age . . . ”);

§ 23A (Rape and abuse of child aggravated by age difference between defendant and victim or when committed by mandated reporters: “Whoever unlawfully has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse, and abuses a child under 16 years of age and . . . ”); and

§ 23B (Rape and abuse of a child by certain previously convicted offenders: “Whoever unlawfully has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse, and abuses a child under 16 years of age and has been previously convicted of or adjudicated delinquent or as a youthful offender for . . . ”).

Assault with intent to commit rape is a crime under M.G.L. c. 265, § 24. “Assault with intent to commit rape” is not defined by statute.

Stalking

Stalking is a crime under M.G.L. c. 265, § 43(a), where it is described as follows:

“Whoever (1) willfully and maliciously engages in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and (2) makes a threat with the intent to place the person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury, shall be guilty of the crime of stalking. . . .  The conduct, acts or threats described in this subsection shall include, but not be limited to, conduct, acts or threats conducted by mail or by use of a telephonic or telecommunication device or electronic communication device including, but not limited to, any device that transfers signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.”

Consent

“Consent,” in reference to sexual activity, is not defined by statute in Massachusetts. However, lack of consent is an element of the crimes of rape and indecent assault and battery.