Domestic violence in Worcester County involves intentional intimidation, assault, battery, and other abusive behavior against a household member or an intimate partner. It includes having sexual relations by threat, force, or coercion with a family member or household member as defined under the law. Household member in domestic violence cases in Worcester County refers to
- People who are married or were married
- People who are living together or were living together
- People related by blood or marriage
- People with children together
- People who are dating or have dated in the past
Domestic violence and assault and battery include physical harm, an attempt to cause physical damage or a reasonable apprehension of harm. However, the victims of domestic violence have a qualifying relationship with the defendant.
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) recorded 3,285 domestic violence cases in Worcester in 2019.
How to Report Domestic Violence in Worcester County
Individuals can report domestic violence cases in Worcester to the appropriate authorities. For emergencies, domestic violence incidents, victims, or other individuals may dial 911.
The Worcester Sheriff also has the authority to intervene during or after a domestic violence incident. Individuals can contact the Sheriff’s Office at
Worcester County Sheriff’s Office
5 Paul X. Tivnan Drive
West Boylston, MA 01583
Phone: (508) 854-1800
The Massachusetts State government also provides access to domestic violence programs for survivors. This includes crisis hotlines and support groups in different parts of Massachusetts, including Worcester County.
How Long Do You Have to Report Domestic Violence in Worcester County?
There is no time limit for reporting a domestic violence case in Worcester County. However, a statute of limitation may prevent prosecution. The statute of limitation for misdemeanors is usually six years. There is generally no time limit for crimes committed against children under 14 years old. However, where the crime goes to trial after 27 years, it would require independent evidence that corroborates the victim’s allegation. Where the offense is rape or assault with an intent to commit a rape, the statute of limitation is 15 years. The period within which the offense can be prosecuted depends on the charge and the facts of the case. The period of limitation pauses while the defendant is resident outside Massachusetts.
How to get Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed in Worcester County
Contacting a competent criminal defense attorney can be crucial in a domestic violence case. The defense attorney can ask the court to dismiss the case for lack of sufficient evidence, raise arguments to discredit the prosecution’s case or defenses such as
- Self-defense. The law allows individuals to take reasonable actions to protect themselves from harm. A lawyer can defend a domestic violence charge by showing that the defendant’s actions were taken in self-defense. The same is applicable if the defendant’s actions were aimed at protecting another person, such as a child.
- Technical grounds for dismissal: The prosecution is required to prove certain elements in a domestic violence case. The defense attorney may ask for dismissal on the grounds that one or more of those elements is lacking, such as
- The threat of harm or actual harm. The defendant should have harmed, threatened, or attempted to harm the victim. This physical element should be present, and a conviction cannot be sustained without it.
- Intention. The defendant’s actions must have been intentional. Where there was intimidation, actual harm, or abuse, the prosecution must show that the defendant’s actions were intentional. Therefore, accidents cannot sustain a domestic violence conviction.
- The victim should be a household member or intimate partner. There is a list of people who may be victims of domestic violence. Household members include family members by blood or marriage, people who have a child or children together, or people who are dating or have dated.
If the prosecution successfully proves domestic violence, the penalties may include fines, jail time, imprisonment in state prison, and a restraining order, depending on the facts of each case.
- Assault and battery is punishable by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two and a half years, a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both imprisonment and a fine. A subsequent offense is punishable by a maximum imprisonment term of two and a half years in a house of correction or five years in state prison.
- Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon is punishable by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two and a half years, imprisonment in state prison for not more than ten years, a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.
- The penalty for violating a restraining order is an imprisonment term in a house of correction not exceeding two and a half years and a fine not exceeding $5,000.
- Witness intimidation is punishable by imprisonment in a house of correction for a term not exceeding two and a half years, imprisonment in state prison for a term not exceeding ten years, a fine between $1,000 and $5,000, or both a fine and imprisonment.
- The penalty for stalking is imprisonment not exceeding two and a half years in a house of correction, imprisonment not exceeding five years in state prison, or a fine not exceeding $1,000. Subsequent offenses are punishable by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two and a half years or imprisonment in state prison for not more than ten years.
- The penalty for strangulation is imprisonment in a house of correction for a maximum of two and a half years, imprisonment in state prison for a maximum of five years, or a fine not exceeding $5,000. The Court may impose both a fine and an imprisonment term.
What Happens if the Victim Doesn't Show up at the Trial for the Domestic Violence Charge in Worcester County?
The prosecution will usually continue with a domestic violence charge if they have sufficient evidence to sustain the charge even if the victim wants to drop charges. The case may be hinged on evidence such as 911 calls, pictures of injuries on the alleged victim, medical reports, statements of other witnesses, and confessional statements of the accused.
The prosecution may also force the alleged victim to testify unless exempted. Married couples are exempted from testifying against each other. A person may assert their fifth amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. The alleged victim may refuse to testify if they committed a crime in connection with the domestic violence case.
If the victim is absent, the prosecution may not be able to rely on their testimony to strengthen their case.