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Celtics Forward Sullinger Charged in Assault Case

By Betty Wang, JD on September 04, 2013 1:46 PM

The Boston Celtics' Jared Sullinger faces serious charges following his girlfriend's allegations of domestic violence. Sullinger, 21, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to the charges, which include assault, battery, and intimidation of a witness.

According to the police, reports ESPN, officers showed up at Sullinger's residence on Saturday evening after his girlfriend, Deann Smith, had called. She claims that, earlier that day, Sullinger had assaulted her, pinning her down onto the bed and not letting her get up. The heated argument allegedly occurred over accusations from Smith that Sullinger was cheating.

Sullinger released a statement last week through the Celtics, apologizing, and calling the experience "humbling and embarrassing."

Assault and Battery

Despite being commonly lumped together, assault and battery are two separate crimes. While the definition may vary by state, assault generally occurs when a person acts in a way that puts another person in fear of immediate harm. Battery then occurs if actual physical, offensive contact (for example, hitting or striking the victim) occurs.

Assault and battery in Massachusetts can lead to both fines and jail time.

Domestic Violence

If Sullinger has been charged with assault and battery, where does the domestic violence come in?

In many states, the act of "domestic violence" is not a crime on its own but, rather, a category of crimes. When the underlying crimes (in this case, assault and battery) are committed against a family member -- including one's spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or partner -- they are considered domestic violence. In Massachusetts, domestic abuse is found when the victim is a "family or household member." The statute includes persons, like Smith, who:

  • are married,
  • reside in the same household,
  • have a child together,
  • have been dating or are engaged, or
  • are related by blood.

Sullinger's bail was set at $5,000 and he's next scheduled to appear in court on September 19th.

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