What is strangulation?

Strangulation isn't a new concept. We are all aware of it. However, the laws surrounding the acts have changed. In the past, someone accused of it faced assault and battery or attempted murder. Now, the Commonwealth has a separate crime called "strangulation". As a result, observers note a large uptick in the amount of people charged with strangulation or suffocation. For those who otherwise faced attempted murder, this is probably a good thing. In my experience, many more people face a wrongful charge of assault and battery.

On occasion, accusers will be asked where the hands were during a dispute and, if the hands were anywhere near the neck, they get charged with strangulation. Moreover, when an accuser is asked a leading question on an interview, did he touch your neck area, in a time of distress and anger they often answer yes. The consequence of a strangulation charge often lead to a 58A hearing. So, what may have started as a simple push and shove dispute from an argument from otherwise lawful people, can land someone in jail, even before trial.

What does the government have to show to prove that strangulation took place?

In order to prove a defendant guilty of the offense of strangulation, the Commonwealth must prove the following three elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That the defendant applied substantial pressure on the throat or neck of the alleged victim
  • That the defendant interfered with the normal breathing OR circulation of blood
  • That he or she acted intentionally

Is there an aggravated version of strangulation?

YES, there is an aggravated version of the offense. An aggravated offense occurs when:

  • Serious bodily injury occurs
  • The defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is pregnant
  • Defendant knows or has reason to know that there is an abuse prevention or restraining order
  • The defendant has a prior conviction for strangulation or suffocation

Although the maximum penalty for the aggravated crime is ten years in state prison, the aggravated crime remains within the final jurisdiction of the District Court.

Aggravating factors could include assault and battery causing serious injury, assault and battery on a person protected by an abuse prevention order, and/or assault and battery on a pregnant woman.

If I am convicted of strangulation do I need to do a special program afterwards?

Any sentence OR continuance without a finding for strangulation or suffocation must include a condition that the defendant must complete a certified batterer’s intervention program.

There are two exceptions to this rule:

  • The court issues a specific written findings describing the reasons against batterer’s intervention
  • The court determines that the defendant is not suitable for intervention

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH STRANGULATION, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.

CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.

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