Massachusetts (2014)


(a) For the purposes of this section the following words shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

“Serious bodily injury,” bodily injury that results in a permanent disfigurement, loss or impairment of a bodily function, limb or organ or creates a substantial risk of death.

“Strangulation,” the intentional interference of the normal breathing or circulation of blood by applying substantial pressure on the throat or neck of another.

“Suffocation,” the intentional interference of the normal breathing or circulation of blood by blocking the nose or mouth of another.

(b) Whoever strangles or suffocates another person shall be punished by imprisonment in state prison for not more than 5 years or in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(c) Whoever:

(i) Strangles or suffocates another person and by such strangulation or suffocation causes serious bodily injury;

(ii) Strangles or suffocates another person, who is pregnant at the time of such strangulation or suffocation, knowing or having reason to know that the person is pregnant;

(iii) Is convicted of strangling or suffocating another person after having been previously convicted of the crime of strangling or suffocating another person under this section, or of a like offense in another state or the United States or a military, territorial or Indian tribal authority; or

(iv) Strangles or suffocates another person, with knowledge that the individual has an outstanding temporary or permanent vacate, restraining or no contact order or judgement issued under Sections 18 or 34B of Chapter 208, Section 32 of Chapter 209, Sections 3, 4 or 5 of Chapter 209A or Sections 15 or 20 of Chapter 209C , in effect against such person at the time the offense is committed, shall be punished by imprisonment in state prison for not more than 10 years, or in the house of correction for not more than 2½ years, and by a fine of not more than $10,000.

(d) For any violation of this section, or as a condition of a continuance without a finding, the court shall order the defendant to complete a certified batterer’s intervention program unless, upon good cause shown, the court issues specific written findings describing the reasons that batterer’s intervention should not be ordered or unless the batterer’s intervention program determines that the defendant is not suitable for intervention.


(b) The course of basic training for law enforcement officers shall include at least 8 hours of instruction in the following procedures and techniques:

(11) Documentation, report writing and evidence collection, which shall include methods for assessing the degree of risk of homicide involved in situations of domestic violence, including, but not limited to, gathering information from the victim regarding the suspect’s past reported and non-reported behavior and dangerousness, such as:

(i) Whether the suspect has ever used a weapon against the victim or threatened the victim with a weapon;

(ii) Whether the suspect owns a gun;

(iii) Whether the suspect’s physical violence against the victim has increased in severity or frequency;

(iv) Whether the suspect has threatened to kill the victim;

(v) Whether the suspect has ever threatened or attempted suicide;

(vi) Whether the suspect has used or threatened physical violence against the victim’s family, other household members or pets;

(vii) Whether the suspect uses illegal drugs;

(viii) Whether the suspect abuses alcohol; and

(ix) Whether there have been specific instances of strangulation or suffocation of the victim by the suspect.

Commonwealth v. Grogan, 11 Mass. App. Ct. 684, 687, 418 N.E.2d 1276, 1278 (1981).

In a case where the defendant put his thumbs on the front of a child’s neck and hands around the child’s neck, the court said that there was sufficient evidence that would warrant a jury to find that he intended to strangle and kill her.

Commonwealth v Dixon (1993) 34 Mass App 653, 614 NE2d 1027, summary op at (Mass App) 21 MLW 2990.

It is possible for someone to attempt murder by strangulation without making contact with the victim. Therefore, assault and battery is not necessarily a lesser included offense of attempted murder by strangulation. However, simple assault is a lesser included offense.


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