According to an article in the MetroWest Daily News, a twenty-three year old Groton woman was recently charged with attacking her boyfriend. According to the article, the defendant was traveling in a car with her boyfriend on the Mass Pike. The boyfriend was talking on the phone with another woman and was planning on driving to this other woman’s house. The defendant allegedly became angry about the fact that the boyfriend was speaking with the other woman, grabbed the boyfriend’s cell phone, and threw it in the back seat of the car. The defendant then allegedly slapped her boyfriend in the face and hit him repeatedly. The boyfriend reportedly began hitting the defendant back and bit her left pinky finger. The boyfriend claimed that he struck the defendant in self-defense because he was traveling at approximately 55-60 miles per hour and was concerned he might crash. The boyfriend ultimately pulled over and state police troopers found the couple, both with visible marks and scratches on their faces and arms, standing around the car in the breakdown lane at roughly 1:48 a.m. The defendant admitted to police that she started the fight. The boyfriend, however, denied biting the defendant’s finger. The defendant was arrested and subsequently charged with assault and battery.
Fortunately for the defendant, there do appear to be some questions as to whether the Commonwealth will be able to prove the case against her. Although the boyfriend was not arrested and the article indicates that he was “acting in self-defense,” he could still be criminally charged for assaulting the defendant. Specifically, the fact that he may have been acting in self-defense and could therefore raise that issue as a defense at trial does not mean that the he could not be criminally charged and potentially prosecuted for his conduct. In light of the fact that he could potentially face criminal charges, he may decline to testify and choose to exercise his Fifth Amendment privilege, which states that a person cannot be compelled to testify if his testimony is potentially incriminating and/or could result in criminal prosecution. The privilege is not limited to circumstances in which the Commonwealth has specifically sought charges or indicated that it intends to do so – a person can assert his Fifth Amendment privilege as long as he could face criminal charges, regardless of whether he actually will.
If the boyfriend chooses not to testify, it is unlikely that the Commonwealth will be able to prove the case against the defendant, as he appears to be the only witness and therefore the only person who would be able to testify that the defendant caused the injuries and how she did so. Although the defendant did state that she was the one the started the fight, it is unclear as to whether such a statement would actually be admissible against her, as the article does not indicate that she received Miranda warnings, which are required if a person is subjected to custodial interrogation. Further, it is not clear whether her statement that she started the fight would in fact be sufficient for the Commonwealth to use as an admission against her, as she does not appear to have specified that she struck the boyfriend first, or that her instigation was anything beyond verbal.
If you or a loved one has gotten into a struggle with a significant other that resulted in criminal charges, you will need an attorney who has experience dealing with domestic cases, and who is sensitive to issues that arise as a result. Attorney Daniel Cappetta has handled numerous domestic cases and is well versed in both the law, and the various defenses that can be asserted. Call him today for a free consultation.