For over 11 years, Baltimore assault attorney Randolph Rice has defended individuals charged with crimes throughout Maryland including misdemeanor assault and felony assault charges. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our assault lawyers work to protect our clients’ rights and keep them out of jail.
If you have been accused of assault, you may feel like the charges are one-sided. The assault attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice are not afraid to fight your charges and take the case to trial to protect your rights. We work tirelessly for our clients, ensuring that their side of the story is heard. For a free legal consultation on your assault charges, call our Baltimore assault lawyers today at (410) 694-7291.
Common Types of Assault Charges in Baltimore, MD
In Maryland, assault is defined as the offensive touching of another individual. That touching has to be intentional and not accidental. A person can also be charged with assault if they attempt to make contact with another person or make that person believe they are going to be assaulted. Some common examples of assault may include the following:
- Arguments gone wrong
- Bar fights
- Domestic violence
- Fights at an Orioles or Ravens game
- Attacks on the street
- Workplace violence
The Maryland Code of Criminal Law § 3-202 and § 3-203 contain the main assault statutes you might be charged under. These statutes are divided into “first degree” assault (§ 3-202) and “second degree” assault (§ 3-203). In addition, there are other potential types of assault charges you could face with varying requirements the prosecutors must meet to prove the case against you.
First Degree Assault
For a person to be convicted of first degree assault in Maryland, the State must prove that the assailant caused or attempted to cause “serious physical injury” or that they used a firearm to assault someone. “Serious physical injury” is a high threshold for injuries, and first degree assault should not be charged unless the victim faced risk of death or permanent injuries.
Second Degree Assault
Second degree assault charges cover most other types of assault, including the types listed below. These charges are used for any attempt to cause bodily injury. If the victim did not suffer injuries at all, these charges may be inappropriate.
Intent to Frighten
For the State to prove an assault with the intent to frighten, they must prove that the defendant intended to put the victim in fear of physical contact, had the ability to make that contact, and that the victim did indeed fear that the contact was going to take place. A Maryland assault lawyer can argue that these acts were unintentional or the victim did not actually fear the defendant’s acts.
If the State chooses to pursue assault charges in Maryland for attempted battery, then they must show that the actor tried to cause physical contact with the victim without their consent. This can include both attempts that were cut short of actually hitting the victim as well as attempts that failed to make contact.
Reckless endangerment may not require physical contact, but it can still have serious penalties if you are convicted. For the State to succeed on reckless endangerment charges, they must prove the actor engaged in conduct that created “a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another” or that they fired a gun from a motor vehicle – i.e. that they committed a “drive-by shooting.”
Domestic violence cases involving assault are some of the most common assault cases in the Maryland court system. Domestic violence is typically defined as an assault between romantic partners or members of the same household.
The State believes that since there is a prior relationship between the parties, it is likely that they will have contact – and violent confrontations – again. Therefore, the state will prosecute domestic violence cases stronger than they typically would for non-domestic violence assault cases in an attempt to stop future risk of harm.
Penalties for Assault in Maryland
The penalties you face for assault will vary depending on the level of assault you were charged with and the specific facts of your case. Second degree assault is a felony with penalties of up to 10 years in jail and a $2,500 fine. If the defendant assaulted a police officer, the crime is upgraded to a felony carrying 10 years in jail and a $5,000 fine. First degree assault is also a felony carrying a maximum penalty of 25 years in jail.
Felony and misdemeanor convictions can also have other consequences. People with a criminal record often have trouble finding jobs, getting loans, getting into college, and applying for other positions and services. It is vital to fight your charges from the beginning and avoid a criminal record to protect your opportunities.
Common Defenses for Assault Charges
If you are charged with assault, there are many common legal defenses you may be able to use to fight the charges. There are rules on how some of these defenses may be used, and they may not all apply to each case.
First, you can assert defenses based on the facts of the case. If you have an alibi that says you were somewhere else at the time of the assault, that can help beat the accusations against you. Similarly, discrediting a witness or challenging their recollection of the events could also give the jury reasonable doubt, convince them to find you not guilty, and acquit you of all charges.
Another common defense in assault charges is to claim that the assault was committed in defense of something or someone. Typically, this could include claims of self-defense, but it could also include the following:
- Defense of others
- Home defense – deadly force is typically authorized
- Defense of other property – deadly force is typically not authorized
These kinds of defenses work by admitting that you did commit the assault but saying that it was justified and that you should not face charges for it. Under self-defense rules, you must also prove the following to take advantage of this legal defense:
- You must show that you were not the aggressor, i.e., that the other person “started it.”
- You must show that you believed you were in imminent danger of bodily harm, not potential future harm.
- You must prove that your self-defense was reasonable and you did not use any more force than reasonably necessary in light of the threat. For example, you cannot respond to non-lethal punches by drawing a gun.
Another common defense to assault charges is to claim that the victim consented to the touching. Many definitions of assault specify that it is only a crime if the victim did not consent to the touching. Consent may not get you out of charges for a bar fight or a minor assault that became far more serious, but it may prevent charges for pranks or other minor cases of assault.
If you believe you have a defense or justifiable reason you committed the assault, contact Maryland assault lawyer Randolph Rice to discuss your case.
Common Questions about Assault Charges in Maryland
If you are facing assault charges in Maryland, then you probably have a lot of questions. Below are some of the most common questions we hear from clients charged with first and second degree assault in Maryland:
Can an Assault Victim Drop the Charges?
In most states, including Maryland, the prosecutor is the one who files the charges for a crime, not the victim. This means that once the crime is reported and police refer the case to the state’s attorneys, they are the only ones who can drop the charges. However, state’s attorneys often take the victim’s position on the matter into consideration. If the victim wants the case dropped, they may be uncooperative and make it hard to prosecute you, so the prosecutors might drop the charges. Prosecutors may also honor a victim’s request to drop the case – but they do not have to.
Can I Get Charges Dropped or Dismissed?
In the criminal justice system, the prosecutor has the power to “drop” charges for many reasons. Prosecutors should drop charges against you if they know they do not have enough evidence to prove the case against you or think you were wrongly accused. They may also drop charges as part of a plea deal, allowing you to plead guilty to a lesser crime in exchange for pleading guilty and skipping trial.
A judge is the one who “dismisses” a case. Typically, this only happens if the judge finds a legal issue with the charges or agrees that there is not enough evidence, from a legal standpoint, to convict you.
Can I Get an Assault Expunged from My Criminal Record in Maryland?
Charges can commonly be expunged after meeting the proper requirements. These requirements vary from case to case depending on the outcome. For instance, if the charges are dropped or you are acquitted, the record should be expunged immediately.
If the assault resulted in probation before judgment, then the charges can be expunged after 3 years. The same rule applies for a “stet”: if the court delayed your case indefinitely without a verdict, you must wait 3 years for expungement.
As of October 1st, 2017, your expungement attorney can remove guilty verdicts for assault after a 10-year period. However, if the assault charges were classified as domestic-violence-related you have to wait 15 years for expungement of second degree assault charges.
Call Our Baltimore Assault Defense Attorney for a Free Legal Consultation
If you or someone you know is facing a misdemeanor or felony assault charge in Maryland, contact Baltimore and Maryland criminal attorney Randolph Rice for a free consultation. Mr. Rice will give your case a full evaluation and discuss all options with you, as well as discuss possible defenses and how his office can defend your rights and freedoms. Most people do not realize how serious their charges are until they appear in court. Contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your assault charges. Our number is (410) 694-7291.