Have you been charged with assault in Maryland or do you have questions about the assault and battery laws? Criminal defense lawyer Randolph Rice explains everything you need to know about 2nd-degree assault below. Keep reading to learn more and how a lawyer may help defend your rights and freedom.
If you were charged with assaulting someone in Maryland, contact Baltimore, MD second-degree assault defense attorney Randolph Rice today for a free consultation at (410) 694-7291.
Second-Degree Assault Defined
Second-degree assault is one of two variations of assault a person can be charged with in Maryland. It is the less serious of the assault crimes in Maryland. It generally means that the defendant made offensive physical contact with another person without their consent or legal justification.
Essentially, 2nd-degree assault is the unlawful touching of another person. That means, if charged with assault in the second degree, the State is alleging the defendant touched, hit, or attempted to touch or hit another person without their consent.
Second-Degree Assault Laws for Charges in Baltimore, MD
The crime of second-degree assault is defined under Maryland Criminal Law Article 3-203. Under the Maryland 2nd degree assault law, there are three different theories one could be charged with. Those three theories are the following:
- Intent to frighten
- Attempted battery
Intent to Frighten
If the state alleges that you committed an assault under the ‘intent to frighten’ theory, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You committed an act with the intent to place the victim in fear of immediate offensive physical contact or physical harm;
- You had the apparent ability, at that time, to bring about offensive physical contact or physical harm; and
- The victim reasonably feared immediate offensive physical contact or physical harm; and
- Your actions were not legally justified.
If the state alleges that you committed an assault under the ‘attempted battery’ theory, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You actually tried to cause immediate offensive physical contact with or physical harm to the victim;
- You intended to bring about offensive physical contact or physical harm; and
- Your actions were not consented to by the victim or not legally justified.
If the state alleges that you committed an assault under the ‘battery’ theory, (this is the most common use), they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You caused offensive physical contact with or physical harm to the victim;
- The contact was the result of an intentional or reckless act by you and was not accidental; and
- The contact was not consented to by the victim or not legally justified.
Classification of Second-Degree Assault in Baltimore: Felony or Misdemeanor?
Second-degree assault is a felony in Maryland if the victim is a police officer and there is a serious physical injury suffered by the law enforcement officer. Otherwise, second-degree assault is not a felony in Maryland and is classified as a misdemeanor.
Second-degree assault is a felony in Maryland is you have been charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer and there was serious physical injury to that officer.
If the victim of the assault is not a law enforcement officer, then 2nd degree assault is classified as a misdemeanor in Maryland.
Jail Time and Punishments for Second-Degree Assault in Baltimore, MD
While there are consequences that can come from the court and the imposition of probation, fines and court costs, there are also collateral consequences that may affect an individual if found guilty of second-degree assault.
In Maryland, one of the particular consequences of a conviction for assault could mean deportation if the defendant is not a U.S. citizen. Any individual that is facing criminal charges in Maryland should speak with an immigration lawyer to determine the immigration consequences if convicted.
Another consequence of a second-degree assault conviction may be the end of eligibility for public funds, welfare benefits or Social Security. Convictions may affect an individual’s chances of receiving funding from the government.
Individuals that are charged with any offense or criminal charges in Maryland should speak to a social security or disability lawyer before they make a decision and their case.
There’s also the possibility of incarceration as a consequence of being charged and convicted of second-degree assault in Maryland. While each case is different, there is the real possibility that an individual may be facing jail time if they are convicted of assault in the second degree.
Every individual charged with second-degree assault is facing the potential of jail time. However, each case is different and only an experienced criminal defense lawyer can advise if jail time is a possibility in your case.
We have seen in the past that clients have received minimal jail sentences of days and weeks but we’ve also seen clients who been sentenced to multiple years in the Department of Corrections for second-degree assault.
There are many factors that a judge will consider when sentencing and determining if jails appropriate. Those factors may include the severity of the crime, the injuries to the victim, the criminal record of the defendant and the recommendation from the State’s Attorney’s office.
The maximum penalty, if convicted, for second-degree assault in Maryland is ten (10) years. It is possible that an individual that is convicted of 2nd-degree assault can go to jail, even if the individual has no prior criminal record. The judge will evaluate the facts of the case and the severity of any injuries and determine if jail is appropriate.
The maximum fine if convicted of 2nd-degree assault in Maryland is $2,500.00.
No Prior Criminal Record of Assault
When using the Maryland Sentencing Guidelines, for a first offense 2nd-degree assault, with injury, the guidelines are probation to six (6) months.
This does not mean a defendant will receive a sentence within the guidelines; a Judge may exceed that suggestion and sentence the defendant to more time. Also, these guidelines are not used in District Court matters, only in Circuit Court cases.
Penalties for Second-Degree Assault of a Police Officer
If the victim of a second degree assault in Maryland is:
- a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of the officer’s official duties;
- a parole or probation agent engaged in the performance of the agent’s official duties; or
- a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, a rescue squad member, or any other first responder engaged in providing emergency medical care or rescue services.
Then the penalty increases and the crime is classified as a felony.
Second-degree assault on a police officer only applies if the police office sustained serious injuries after an assault. The maximum penalty if convicted of second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer or police officer in Maryland is ten (10) years. The maximum fine if convicted of 2nd-degree assault of a law enforcement officer is $5,000.00. The crime of second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer can be found under Maryland Criminal Law 3-203(c).
Second-Degree Assault Maryland Jury Trial
Because the maximum penalty for 2nd-degree assault is 10 years, which is greater than 90 days, and the requirement to elect a jury trial, any individual charged with second-degree assault in Maryland has a right to a trial by jury. If the defendant elects a jury trial, then the case will be forwarded to the Circuit Court for a trial date. If an individual is charged with first-degree assault, more likely than not the case will be set in for a preliminary hearing.
A preliminary hearing may not occur depending on the State’s Attorney’s office and their desire to take the case before a grand jury. In any criminal case charged in Maryland, if a felony is charged than a defendant has a right to a preliminary hearing.
However, the State may choose to pull the case and take it before a grand jury to determine probable cause. The defendant does not have a right to stop the State from taking the case before the grand jury.
If you’re facing assault charges in Maryland, contact attorney Randolph Rice today to discuss your case.
Can My Spouse Choose Not to Testify Against Me in Court?
Yes, your spouse can choose to not testify against you in Court if you’ve been charged with second degree assault. However, there is some exception to this rule. Read more about marital privilege or spousal privilege in Maryland. A couple of the main points are your spouse can only invoke this privilege once in Maryland and you must be married at the time of your trial date.
Statute of Limitations for Second-Degree Assault in Baltimore, Maryland
In Maryland, the statute of limitations for second-degree assault is one year. Since 2nd-degree assault is classified as a misdemeanor, then the State has one year from the date of the alleged assault to charge the defendant.
However, if it is alleged that the defendant assaulted a law enforcement officer, and thus a felony, then the statute of limitations is the life of the defendant. In other words, there is no statute of limitations.
Expungement of 2nd-Degree Assault Charges
If you’re trying to expunge a second-degree assault you first must look at the disposition for that charge and all of the charges that are associated with it. It’s not the type of charge that you must look at when determining if second-degree assault can be expunged in Maryland, but rather the outcome is the first step.
For example, if you were charged with three separate counts and assault in the second degree was one of them, then you must look at the other two counts and their disposition to determine if second-degree assault can be expunged. If all of the counts were nolle prosequi or dismissed, then you can expunge the record as well as the second-degree assault.
If the assault charge, along with all other charges were marked Stet then you can have the second-degree assault expunged but you must wait 3 years since the disposition and there cannot be any pending criminal charges against you. This is all about to change on October 1, 2017. Starting October 1, 2017, guilty dispositions for second-degree assault will be eligible for expungement.
However, there are exceptions to the rule. Maryland Criminal Law 3-203 (Second Degree Assault) will be eligible for expungement under Criminal Procedure 10-110 starting October 1st, 2017.
The timing to file an expungement of the second-degree assault is 15 years after the case is resolved including parole, probation or any mandatory supervision.
That means you must wait 15 years from the end of the supervision, whether it was supervised or unsupervised. If the assault charges that you were found guilty of were marked as domestically related under Criminal Procedure 6-233 then you must wait 15 years after the conviction as well as the completion of parole, probation or mandatory supervision.
If you were convicted of a new crime during the past fifteen years, then the original second-degree assault is not eligible for expungement unless the new conviction becomes eligible to be expunged. Also, if there are pending criminal charges against you, then you are not eligible to expunge the second-degree assault.
Will a Baltimore 2nd Degree Assault Charge Prevent Keeping a Job?
A conviction of assault can affect your current or future employment. Most employers conduct a background check during the interview process and screening of all applicants. Many employers will not hire an individual who has been found guilty of second-degree assault.
Social Stigma for Second-Degree Assault in Baltimore, MD
Another consequence of being charged with second-degree assault in Maryland is the social stigma that may come with a conviction. As in any criminal case, an individual has many options when deciding how to proceed.
The two most important decisions, if the state is pursuing the charges, is to decide if you will be pleading guilty or pleading not guilty. By pleading guilty, it is the highest form of self-incrimination, and you are essentially telling the court that you committed the crime.
Even though you may plead guilty, this may not result in a conviction. In Maryland, the judges do have the ability to strike the guilty finding and enter probation before judgment or PBJ. This means you are not convicted and are placed on probation.
The benefits of a PBJ are the ability to expunge a criminal record down the road. However, if an individual decides to plead guilty and the court ultimately finds a defendant guilty and does not grant probation before judgment, the individual must wait 15 years before filing an expungement of the second-degree assault charge.
Contact a Baltimore, Maryland Second-Degree Assault Defense Lawyer Today
If you were charged with 2nd-degree assault in Maryland, do not hesitate to seek legal representation for your charges. Contact The Law Offices of Randolph Rice for a free consultation about your legal options. Call (410) 694-7291 today.