For more than a decade, Baltimore assault attorney Randolph Rice has defended individuals charged with violent crimes throughout Maryland, including misdemeanor and felony assault charges. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we are committed to protecting your rights, guiding you through the legal system, gathering key evidence, advising you on potential strategies, and working hard to help you reduce or avoid penalties.
If you have been accused of assault, you may feel like the charges are one-sided. Know that the Law Offices of Randolph Rice is standing by your side to provide the quality representation you deserve. Baltimore assault lawyer Randolph Rice is not afraid to vigorously dispute the evidence against you and take your case to trial. We advocate tirelessly for our clients, ensuring that their side of the story is heard. For a free legal consultation about assault charges in Baltimore or the Baltimore area, contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice online, or call today at (410) 694-7291.
Were You Arrested for Assault in Baltimore?
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 physical contact with another person or make that person believe they are going to be assaulted. Some common examples of assault may include the following:
- Bar fights
- Domestic violence
- Fights at an Orioles or Ravens game
- Attacks on the street
- Workplace violence
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense, there are various crimes a defendant may be charged with under Maryland’s assault laws. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we handle all types of felony and misdemeanor assault charges, including assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, domestic violence, reckless endangerment, and related charges. These and other violent crimes are described in greater detail below, followed by a description of the maximum criminal penalties.
First Degree Assault Charges (Maryland Criminal Code 3-202)
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. Under Maryland Criminal Code § 3-201, which provides legal definitions pertaining to assault, a “serious physical injury” is defined at Maryland Criminal Code § 3-201(d) to mean “physical injury that… creates a substantial risk of death,” or leads to serious, long-term or permanent disability or disfigurement.
Second Degree Assault Charges (Maryland Criminal Code 3-203)
Second degree assault is a less serious charge than first degree assault, due to the way the offense is defined. Accordingly, there are lighter penalties for this type of assault charge. However, it is critical to respond to the charges strategically, since jail time and heavy fines can still result, along with a criminal record.
Assault in the second degree is defined at Maryland Criminal Code § 3-203, which simply states, at Maryland Criminal Code § 3-203(a), “A person may not commit an assault.” The statute is slightly more specific when it comes to assaults on police, parole, and probation officers, making it illegal to “intentionally cause physical injury” to any officer who is “engaged in the performance of… [his or her] official duties.”
Reckless Endangerment Charges (Maryland Criminal Code 3-204)
Reckless endangerment does not require physical contact, but the charges can lead to serious penalties if you are convicted. For the state to succeed in a reckless endangerment case, prosecutors must prove the defendant either:
- Engaged in conduct that created “a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another” (Maryland Criminal Code § 3-204(a)(1))
- Fired a gun from a car or other type of motor vehicle, again, in a manner that caused “a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another” (Maryland Criminal Code § 3-204(a)(2))
Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence charges 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 again, potentially leading to future confrontations. Therefore, the state will generally prosecute domestic violence cases more strongly than they typically would for non-domestic violence assault cases in an attempt to lessen the future risk of harm. These types of cases frequently involve restraining orders.
Maryland Assault Penalties: Jail Time and Fines
The penalties you face for assault will vary depending on the type of assault you were charged with and the specific facts of your case. For example, second degree assault is a misdemeanor with penalties of up to 10 years in prison 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, with offenders subject to a maximum sentence 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 handle your charges tactically from the beginning and avoid a criminal record to protect your opportunities.
Legal Defenses Against 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 (find you “not guilty”) of all charges.
Another common defense in assault cases 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 other people
- Home defense
- Defense of other property
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, or 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 level of self-defense was reasonable and that you did not use any more force than necessary in light of the threat.
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 arising from 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 today.
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 You 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 avoiding trial and receiving reduced penalties.
A judge is the one who “dismisses” a case, which is different from dropping assault charges. Typically, a case dismissal 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 You Get an Assault Conviction Expunged in Maryland?
Criminal records can sometimes be expunged, which seals the record from the general public, after meeting the proper requirements. These requirements vary from case to case depending on the outcome. For instance, if the assault charge resulted in probation before judgment, then the charges can be expunged after three years. The same rule applies for a “stet,” which means that if the court delayed your case indefinitely, you must wait three years to file for expungement.
If You Were Arrested on Assault Charges in the Baltimore Area, Our Lawyers can Help
If you or someone you know is facing a misdemeanor or felony assault charge in Maryland, contact Baltimore criminal attorney Randolph Rice for a free legal consultation. Randolph 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 online, or call (410) 694-7291 today to schedule a free legal consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you and your loved ones face an assault charge.