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Domestic Violence in Norfolk County, Massachusetts

Domestic violence in Norfolk

Domestic violence in Norfolk County involves physical or psychological harm, attempts to inflict physical harm, and nonconsensual sexual relations to family and household members.

According to Massachusetts Law, family and household members include those who:

  • are or were married to each other
  • are or were related by blood or marriage
  • are or were living together in the same household
  • are or were dating or engaged
  • have a child in common whether or not they were married or lived together

A law officer in Norfolk County who suspects that a family or household member has suffered abuse or is in danger of being abused is empowered by law to, within reason, do everything possible to prevent further abuse. This may include:

  • Remaining at the scene of the abuse if the officer has reason to believe that the victim may be in immediate physical danger without the presence of a law officer
  • Assisting the victim in obtaining medical treatment, if necessary
  • Assisting the victim in locating and getting to a safe place
  • Giving the victim immediate and adequate notice of their rights
  • Assisting the victim by activating the emergency judicial system when the court is closed for business
  • Informing the victim that the abuser is eligible for bail and may be released quickly

Domestic violence differs from other types of violence, including street crimes and aggravated assault. A significant distinguishing factor is that the victim and the accused person in domestic violence must be related as defined by the law.

According to the State Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, there were 17,079 domestic violence incidents in Norfolk County between July 2014 and June 2015. 5,206 of these incidents were recorded as crimes, while 11,873 were recorded as noncrime.

In 2019, law enforcement in Norfolk County recorded about 350 aggravated assault incidents where the victims were family or household members. These include:

  • 169 boyfriend or girlfriend victims
  • 56 spouses
  • Nine ex-spouses
  • Two common-law spouses
  • 49 parents
  • 24 siblings
  • 17 children
  • 2 stepchildren

How to Report Domestic Violence in Norfolk County, Massachusetts

Domestic violence is a crime in Norfolk County and should be reported to the police. In cases of emergencies, victims or other persons may call 911. Victims and interested parties may also contact the Police at

Norfolk Police Department

14 Sharon Avenue

Norfolk, MA 02056

Phone: (508) 528-3206 ( For non-emergencies)

Fax: (508) 520-9762

Additionally, various agencies and non-profit organizations in Norfolk County assist victims in getting protection and safety. SafeLink is a 24/7 toll-free domestic violence hotline for Massachusetts, and it’s available on (877) 785-2020.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing may dial 711 - MassRelay Service or the National Deaf Hotline on 1-855-812-1001. Alternatively, they may contact the National Deaf Hotline at nationaldeafhotline@adwas.org, or chat online with the advocates.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline also offers assistance and safety planning 24/7. Victims or concerned parties may dial 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), TTY 1-800-787-3224. People who may be unable to speak safely may also chat with the advocates online.

How Long Do You Have to Report Domestic Violence in Norfolk County, Massachusetts?

A victim of domestic violence in Norfolk County should contact law enforcement at the earliest possible time after an incident. Under Massachusetts law, the time limit for domestic violence charges in Norfolk County varies depending on the actual charge. It generally ranges from six years to fifteen years. However, there are no time limits for certain domestic charges that involve a minor as the victim.

Any criminal act of abuse that a family or household member commits against another is considered domestic violence. Domestic violence may be emotional, physical, or sexual in nature. It may also involve economic control and neglect.

Other offenses that may be associated with domestic violence include violating a protective order, assault and battery, and stalking.

Victims of domestic violence, as well as their family members, are entitled by law to take time off from work without fear of repercussions. They may take up to 15 days of paid or unpaid leave to:

  • Seek or obtain medical care, counseling, legal assistance, or victim services
  • Search for and move into new housing
  • Obtain a protective order from a court
  • Appear before a grand jury
  • Go to court
  • Attend child custody proceedings
  • Meet with the police, a district attorney, or any other law enforcement official
  • Deal with other issues related directly to the abusive behavior

How to get Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed in Norfolk County, Massachusetts

Seeking help from a qualified criminal defense attorney may give the accused a good chance of getting their charges dismissed, depending on the facts of the case and evidence available. Domestic abuse situations can be emotional and tense, but a defense attorney is professionally equipped to sift through facts and evidence collect relevant information to build a suitable argument on the accused’s behalf. Some of the defenses an attorney may present before the court include.

  • Innocence: When using this defense, the accused does not deny that the victim suffered abuse. The claim is that the victim experienced abuse at the hands of another person. The defense may support this claim with an alibi or other evidence that could potentially cast some doubt on the prosecution’s case.
  • False Allegations: The defense may argue and present evidence to show that the complainant’s testimony is inconsistent or inaccurate. In some cases, the accuser may falsely accuse the defendant as a personal vendetta for personal revenge or gain some advantage.
  • Accident: The accused accepts that the complainant suffered some harm and caused the injury, albeit unintentionally.
  • Self-Defense: A person has the right to defend themselves or a family member if they have cause to believe they were under attack. However, they may only use as much force as is reasonably necessary. Massachusetts law further requires that they first try to retreat before resorting to force. The lawyer may support this defense claim by showing evidence that the complainant first inflicted harm on the defendant.
  • Mistake of Fact: To be guilty of domestic violence, there must have been criminal intent. The accused must know that the victim was a member of the family or household and must have intended to cause harm. Reasonable mistakes as to the victim's identity may defeat Norfolk County domestic violence charges.
  • Excluded Victim: A necessary element of the offense of domestic violence is that the victim be a member of the same family or household as the defendant. If the victim does not fall under this umbrella, the accused cannot be guilty of domestic violence.

The penalties for domestic violence in Norfolk County range from jail time to probation and depend on the circumstances of the offense and the accused's record. Domestic violence may be charged and penalized in different ways, including:

  • Imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2½ years or a maximum fine of $5,000, or both such imprisonment and fine for assault or assault and battery on a family or household member.
  • Imprisonment in the state prison for up to 10 years or in the house of correction for not more than 2½ years, or a maximum fine of $5,000, or both such fine and imprisonment for assault and battery with a deadly weapon. If the victim was sixty years old or above, the penalty on a second or subsequent conviction is imprisonment in the state prison for at least two years without the possibility of parole.
  • Imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2½ years or a maximum fine of $5,000, or both the fine and imprisonment for violating a 209A restraining order.
  • Imprisonment in the state prison for up to 5 years or in the house of correction for not more than 2½ years, or a maximum fine of $1,000, or both such fine and imprisonment for stalking. A subsequent conviction attracts a minimum of two years in state prison or jail, but no more than ten years, without the possibility of parole.

What Happens if the Victim Doesn't Show up at the Trial for the Domestic Violence Charge in Norfolk County?

If the victim does not show up at the trial for a domestic charge in Norfolk County, the prosecution may drop the charges. However, this is not always the case. Whether or not the domestic charge is dismissed depends on the circumstances of the case.

If the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence for the domestic violence charge, the court may dismiss the case. On the other hand, the prosecution may also subpoena the domestic violence victim to force them to appear in court and testify.