Assault is one of the more serious crimes you can be charged with in the state of Maryland. Additionally, assault can be charged in several different ways depending on the severity of the way in which the alleged assault has been committed. Because assaults often result from physical fights where the identity of the instigator is unclear, it is all to common for the wrong person to be arrested and charged with assault in the aftermath of an altercation.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our team of experienced Maryland assault defense lawyers understand the kind of turmoil that an assault charge can bring into a person’s life. We know how to fight these charges from the moment they are brought all the way through to a trial if that is necessary. The sooner we get to work on your case, the better chance we have of minimizing any damage it may cause. If you or a loved one has been charged with assault in Maryland, call us today at (410) 694-7291 for a free consultation.
How Assault is Defined Under Maryland Law
An assault in Maryland is defined as the offensive and intentional touching of another person, an attempt to make offensive contact with another, or actions that put another person in imminent fear that they are going to be offensively touched. A typical assault might consist of someone punching another person in a bar fight, but the contact does not need to be so extreme or even to cause physical injury for it to qualify as assault. Even the slightest touch, if done in an offensive and intentional manner, may be considered an assault.
Other types of assault can include domestic violence, pinching or grabbing someone without their consent, or pushing someone out of the way to get where you are going faster. If you try to push or hit someone and fail, this can still be charged as assault. In addition, if you make someone fear that they are going to be assaulted, such as by raising your fist at someone and saying “I’m going to beat you up,” you can be charged with assault even if you do not actually act on your threat.
Types of Assault in Maryland
Assaults in Maryland are classified as either a first-degree or a second-degree assault. First-degree assault is charged when the alleged assailant either caused or attempted to cause “serious physical injury” to the alleged victim, or if they used or brandished a firearm in the course of the assault. Under Maryland law, “serious physical injury” is defined as a physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death or leads to long-term or permanent disability or disfigurement. Assault in the first degree is a first-degree felony.
Second-degree assault is charged for any other type of assault that does not meet the stricter requirements for first-degree assault. Any type of offensive touching that did not cause or was not likely to cause serious physical injury can be charged as second-degree assault, even something as minor as poking someone. Generally, assault in the second degree is a second-degree misdemeanor. However, if the assault is done upon a police officer, it will instead be charged as a second-degree felony.
Penalties for Assault in Maryland
Penalties for assault in Maryland can be extremely harsh and reflect how seriously the state takes these types of charges. The penalties will depend on whether it was a first or second-degree assault. An experienced Maryland assault defense lawyer like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice will know how to work with the prosecutor to get you a deal where the most severe sentences are not imposed. If the case goes to trial and you are found guilty, we know how to advocate to the judge that you deserve far less than the maximum penalties.
Below, some of the possible penalties are listed.
- Prison sentence of up to 25 years
- Prison sentence of up to 10 years
- Fines up to $2,500
Second-Degree Assault on a Police Officer
- Prison sentence of up to 10 years
- Fines up to $5,000
Common Defenses to Assault Charges in Maryland
There are a number of effective defense strategies our attorneys have employed successfully to get assault charges dismissed or downgraded. Obviously, if you were not present at the time the assault occurred, the defense of mistaken identity will be our first play. If you have an alibi at the time of the assault, you are especially likely to succeed on this defense.
Another common defense in assault cases is that you acted in self-defense, defense of home or property, or defense of another person. For example, if you are attacked by a drunken person in a bar, you have the right to fight back and get this person off of you. Likewise, if you stumble upon someone being beaten up by a mugger in an alleyway, you have the right to intervene physically to stop the assault.
As noted above, fights can involve multiple parties and it is often not clear to the police who was the aggressor and who was the victim. As such, the wrong person is frequently charged at the outset and this can be used as a defense. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our veteran Maryland criminal defense attorneys have years of experience successfully mounting all of these defenses and more on behalf of our clients.
If You Have Been Charged with Assault, Call Our Experienced Defense Attorneys Today
Assault is a charge that can result in ruinous consequences for a person who is convicted of it. Aside from the harsh criminal penalties including many years in prison, the charge will follow you for the rest of your life and make it difficult to find a job, apply to college or graduate school, or receive government assistance in certain instances. Having a skilled Maryland assault defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice on your side will help get your case resolved in the most positive manner possible. Call our office today at (410) 694-7291 for a free consultation.