Skip to main content

Abuse Related Crimes

Abuse-Related Offenses

Abuse-related offenses in Massachusetts are crimes that involve one person harming another. The resulting harm from abuse can be either physical or mental, including emotional distress and mental illness.

As part of my criminal defense practice since 2002, I defend those charged with all forms of abuse. If you’ve been charged with abuse, you need an experienced defense attorney willing to take your case seriously, and who will work tenaciously on your behalf.

I represent criminal defense clients throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

What are some crimes that are considered Abuse-Related?

Some of the most common abuse crimes are annoying/accosting a person of the opposite sex, criminal harassment, threats and stalking. All of these crimes involve offending or causing discomfort to another.

How are Abuse Crimes Committed?

Generally, abuse crimes are committed through disorderly acts or words including:

  • Fighting or similar behavior,
  • Creating an unsafe condition,
  • Invading personal privacy, or
  • Making threats – The threat must make the average person fearful, not just uncomfortable, to be considered accosting or annoying.

The conduct is criminal if it can be found that the average person would be offended or emotionally distressed by the behavior. The government must show that the offender behaved in this manner willfully or purposefully to cause the reaction of the victim.

In the cases of stalking, the abuse act can take place through:

  • Mail
  • Telephone
  • Electronic devices
  • Internet communications
  • Instant message communications
  • Facsimile communications

For these acts to be illegal, they must be accompanied by a threat of death or serious bodily injury. Criminal stalking must be done intentionally by the offender. This means the offender is committing the offense on purpose or to seek revenge on his/her victim.

When deciding if a particular instance of stalking constitutes a crime, courts look at whether t the average person would foresee the harmful effects; not necessarily whether the particular offender foresaw the effects.

Specifically, in Massachusetts, the Government must prove the following for each of these offenses:

Annoying and Accosting Persons of the Opposite Sex:

  1. That the person accused knowingly engaged in disorderly acts or language;
  2. That those acts or language categorized as disorderly were offensive to a reasonable person;
  3. That the Defendant intended to direct those acts or language to the alleged victim;
  4. That the alleged victim was aware of the Defendant’s offensive and disorderly acts or language; and
  5. That the alleged victim was a person of the opposite sex.


  1. That the Defendant expressed an intent to injure the alleged victim and/or his/her property, now or in the future;
  2. That the Defendant intended that it be conveyed to the alleged victim;
  3. That the threatened injury, if carried out, would constitute a crime.
  4. That the Defendant made the threat under circumstances which could reasonably have caused the alleged victim to fear that the Defendant had both the intention and the ability to carry out the threat.

Criminal Harassment:

  1. That the Defendant knowingly participated in at least three separate actions consisting of conduct, speech, and/or acts that were directed towards the same individual who is the alleged victim.
  2. That those actions were of a kind that would cause a reasonable person to feel emotions considered to be substantial emotional distress;
  3. That those actions did in fact cause the complaining person to feel serious alarm.
  4. That the Defendant performed these acts in a manner deemed willful or malicious.


  1. That over a period of time the Defendant knowingly engaged in a pattern of conduct or series of acts, involving at least three incidents, directed at the alleged victim.
  2. That those acts were of a kind that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress;
  3. That those acts did cause the alleged victim to become seriously alarmed or annoyed.
  4. That the Defendant took those actions willfully and maliciously. An act is “willful” if it is done intentionally and by design, and not out of mistake or accident. An act is done with “malice” if the Defendant’s conduct was intentional and without justification or mitigation, and any reasonable prudent person would have foreseen the actual effect on the alleged victim.
  5. The Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant also made a threat with the intention of placing the alleged victim in imminent fear of death or bodily injury.

What Type of Punishment Can Be Imposed?

Depending on the charge and State that you are charged in, there are varying degrees of punishment.

Annoying or accosting another can result in fines of up to $200 and/or imprisonment for up to 6 months if charged in the State of Massachusetts.

Threats can result in a fine and/or imprisonment for up to 6 months if charged in the State of Massachusetts.

Criminal harassment carries a harsher penalty of in fines of up to $1,000 and/or 2.5 years of imprisonment in the State of Massachusetts.

Stalking is the most serious of these offenses and results in imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or a fine of up to $1,000, in the State of Massachusetts.

For more information on these and other offenses, please refer to other sections of my website that describe these offenses in greater detail.

How I Can Help

As a criminal defense attorney since 2002, I am experience at defending the rights of those charged with criminal offenses.  Please call me to schedule a free consultation at (978) 851-5145 and learn how I can help.

What Our Clients Are Saying About Paul King

“Attorney King made me feel at ease, as I was very nervous regarding my legal issue. He was direct, professional, fair, and offered helpful advice. I’m truly thankful to God for his wisdom, knowledge and support! As I obtained favorable results!”

5 Star Avvo Review: anonymous