August 23, 2017

My neighbor threatened me. Is that an assault?

Additional  Information:

On the weekends, I usually work on my yard but never start up the lawn mower or leaf blower until after 10 AM.  Last Saturday my neighbor charged out of his house after I started the lawn mower and started screaming at me (on my land) about how I always wake him up and threatened to break the lawn mower over my head.  I asked him to get off my property but he didn’t.  My wife saw this exchange and called the police. When they arrived, they talked to him but as far as I know didn’t really do anything.  Now I’m worried that this guy will harm me or my wife or do something to our property because he is clearly unstable.  So isn’t that an assault and why did the cops do nothing?  Besides this crazy neighbor, we really like our Leominster home and neighborhood.  What can we do?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

10AM is not an unreasonable time to begin yard work or using power machines in your yard.  I cannot answer why the police chose not to take ay action.  I think it is a close call as to whether or not your neighbor’s conduct constituted an assault.  Section 13A of chapter 265 of our General Laws provides that “Whoever commits an assault . . . upon another shall be punished. . . .”

An assault may be committed in either of two ways.  It is either an attempted battery or an immediately threatened battery. A battery is a harmful or an unpermitted touching of another person. So an assault can be either an attempt to use some degree of physical force on another person — for example, by throwing a punch at someone — or it can be a demonstration of an apparent intent to use immediate force on another person — for example, by coming at someone with fists flying. The defendant may be  convicted of assault if the Commonwealth proves either form of assault.

Since the police failed to take any action you do have the option of going to the Leominster Court and filing an application for criminal complaint against your neighbor.  You could file the complaint for both charges of assault and threat to commit a crime.  You will need as much information about your neighbor as possible including date of birth if available.  Once the application is filed the Clerk’s office will give you and your neighbor notice of the hearing.  The hearing will be conducted in front of a Clerk Magistrate.  You should bring your wife who can testify to what she observed.  You will have the burden of proof at this hearing, which is a probable cause standard.  Your neighbor can testify in his own defense and call any witnesses he wishes as well.

You should also document these any future incidents with the police.  If your neighbor engages in three or more of these type of threatening or harassing type of incidents, then you could go to the court and apply for a harassment prevention order.

Leominster Assault & Battery lawyers at Riddle & Associates provide criminal defense representation to individuals in Leominster and in the Worcester county region including the communities of: Fitchburg, Lunenberg, Shirley, Lancaster, Sterling, Princeton, and Westminster.

RIDDLE ASSOCIATES, ATTORNEYS AT LAW
Leominster Assault & Battery Lawyers
344 Summer Street
Fitchburg, Massachusetts