Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member

Assault and Battery on a Family or Household Member, 209A Violation, Intimidation of a Witness, Strangulation and Other Massachusetts Domestic Violence Crimes

We discuss Massachusetts domestic violence defense and procedure here. Massachusetts criminal procedure is complex and intricate. Defense of domestic violence cases requires knowledge of the law, trial and courtroom skills, and a familiarity with the day-to-day workings of the Massachusetts criminal courts. Attorney Joe Serpa is a criminal defense lawyer with over 25 years’ experience in Massachusetts courts with a superb record of dismissals and acquittals in domestic violence cases.

If you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime, you are likely being charged with one or more of the following offenses. Please click on each link below for a detailed description of these offenses.

Domestic violence arrests and prosecutions in Massachusetts are emotionally fraught for families. Violence against loved ones can be incredibly destructive and dangerous to everyone involved, whether victims or witnesses. You should always look for treatment or counseling for alternatives to violence if you’ve ever been aggressive toward a loved one. Your spouse and children deserve better than living in fear of the person they should trust most for safety and support.

Massachusetts state police and local police, as well as all District Attorney’s Offices, are also under pressure to make arrests and attempt to fully prosecute every case alleging domestic violence, no matter how minor or serious. This is understandable. However, it forces arrests in cases based on split-second decisions by police at a scene where both parties to a dispute were violent or threatening, and often the wrong person is arrested and charged.

Massachusetts Spousal Privilege

Often, prosecutions of this nature require the live testimony of an eyewitness to the actual, alleged incident. It is common for witnesses to decline to testify against their loved ones. Massachusetts law allows a spouse the option to refuse to testify against his or her spouse under the “spousal privilege” or “marital privilege.” G. L. c. 233, §20. (Similarly, Massachusetts district attorney’s offices are not allowed to call as witnesses children to cases alleging a crime against a parent, but only if the victim lives outside the home of the accused person.)

Massachusetts’ Privilege Against Self-Incrimination

Also, every witness has a privilege against self-incrimination that comes from the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. An altercation in which both spouses committed acts of violence, or even threats, entitles both the alleged victim and the accused to decline to testify. This is true even if the alleged victim was never charged or arrested. This privilege often leads to dismissal of a Massachusetts criminal case charging domestic violence.

Both privileges against testifying should be explored in every case by a Massachusetts criminal lawyer in your case. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss avenues to dismissal of your Massachusetts criminal case charging domestic violence.

Criminal Defense at Trial

Some Massachusetts cases simply cannot be resolved before trial. Massachusetts’ district attorney’s office understandably consider the protection of victims of domestic violence a top priority. At times, a pretrial outcome that both sides can live with is not possible.

Striking the right tone before a jury in a criminal trial of a domestic violence case is critical. This is no time for a lawyer to grandstand or posture. Whether the accused is guilty or innocent, a domestic violence defense lawyer must be sensitive to how grave domestic violence is. Respect for the accusation and the alleged victim, even a dishonest victim, is the right approach and also wins cases. This is why Attorney Joe Serpa has never lost a trial alleging domestic violence offenses in over twenty five years of criminal trial experience.

Client Reviews

He's one of the best people I've met. I'm really appreciative of all the help I received. If you have a serious case, he'll work hard to make sure you have the best outcome. I highly recommend him. You will not be disappointed.


Mr. Serpa was very helpful with my family member ‘s case. He was able to get it dismissed quickly and easily. He is very professional and very good at what he does. I’m so glad he hired him. You will be glad too if you hire him.


Serpa law office was my attorney of choice for 2 seperate cases I had last year. With both situations, Joseph not only treated me great, delivered the results I was hoping for, and was extremely professional and genuine. I would definitely recommend this law office to anyone in need of legal help.


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