According to an article in the MetroWest Daily News, a group of ten freshman and sophomore students got into a “brawl” at Framingham High School last week. School officials stated that they did not know what led to the fight and insisted that there was no longstanding feud between the students who were involved. Four of the students were injured, including one who was taken to the hospital to the hospital as a precaution. A Framingham police officer indicated that the police were reviewing surveillance footage as well as cell phone videos taken by others in an attempt to determine who or what caused the fight. Although criminal charges have not yet been issued, the police department indicated that the incident was still under investigation and that “it could possibly lead to criminal charges.”
If the students are indeed criminally charged, it seems likely that they will be charges of simple assault and battery under G. L. c. 265, 13A, as the article makes no mention of any weapons being used. For the Commonwealth is issue charges and ultimately convict the student(s) for assault and battery, it would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) that the student(s) touched the person of the alleged victim(s) without having any right or excuse for doing so; (2) that the student(s) intended to touch the alleged victim(s); and (3) that the touching was either likely to cause bodily harm to the alleged victim(s) or was done without the alleged victim or victims’ consent. The touching must be intentional in the sense that the student(s) consciously and deliberately intended the touching to occur and that it was not merely accidental or negligent. However, the student(s) need not specifically have intended to cause injury to the alleged victim(s).
While the details of the incident are still not entirely clear, it seems the Commonwealth may have difficulty proving its case. Assuming that this was a mutual fight in that the students were all fighting against one another, as opposed to certain parties simply being assaulted and certain parties doing the assaulting, all of the students involved would presumably be cross-complainants and have 5th Amendment privileges against self-incrimination. Continue reading →