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Strangulation or Suffocation (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265, §15D)

It has always been a crime in Massachusetts to commit an assault and battery, or an attempted murder, by grabbing somebody's neck or throat. In 2014, as part of a larger domestic violence initiative, our legislature made this a specific crime. You commit this offense if you cause the"intentional interference of the normal breathing or circulation of blood by applying substantial pressure on the throat or neck of another," or, in "suffocation," if you cause "the intentional interference of the normal breathing or circulation of blood by blocking the nose or mouth of another." Grabbing an alleged victim’s neck doesn’t violate this statute unless there is some interference, even if minor, with that person’s breathing.

Strangulation or Suffocation in Massachusetts is a serious felony. You can be sentenced to up to five years in prison. A second offense of this crime carries a maximum penalty of ten years in state prison. You can also be sentenced to ten years in state prison for an "aggravated" commission of this offense, which involves committing the crime against a pregnant woman or causing serious bodily injury, or if the accused was a defendant in a protection or restraining order.

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