An aggravated assault is an attack on another person that’s enhanced by other factors like the use of a weapon, serious injuries or an attack on a police officer. These offenses may be charged as first-degree or second-degree assaults. Both are serious but only first-degree assaults are felonies. The penalties for aggravated assault in Maryland are typically harsh.
Anyone charged with a crime in Maryland should talk to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. What you say or do in the minutes and hours after an arrest can cloud your future. It can be the difference between an aggravated assault charge and a simple assault that carries a lesser sentence.
Baltimore assault defense lawyer Randolph Rice has hundreds of helped people charged with aggravated assaults for over a decade. He writes about the penalties for aggravated assault in Maryland.
What is Aggravated Assault in Maryland?
Maryland law defines the degrees of assault but does not spell out what is meant by aggravated assault, even though the term might appear on your rap sheet. If you inflict a minor injury on someone or cause them to fear an attack, it’s unlikely to appear as an aggravated assault on the charge sheet.
An assault becomes aggravated when certain factors are present. They include:
- The use of a weapon for an attack in Maryland – Although firearms are one of the most common weapons brandished, the attacker could be armed with a penknife, mace, a baseball bat, a stone or even a dangerous household object to end up facing an aggravated assault charge. You don’t need to use the weapon to be charged with aggravated assault.
- The status of the victim – Assaults on certain victims like police officers, first responders, judges, and public officials are likely to be elevated to aggravated assaults because of the victim’s status and the need to send a message to society.
- Hate crimes – Assaults are often elevated to aggravated assaults when they are hate crimes. These offenses target people for their race, nationality, sexual orientation, disability or religious beliefs. A report in Patch noted the number of hate crimes is growing in Maryland. Hate crimes are also prosecuted at the federal level. If an attacker uses racist, homophobic or anti-semitic language, for example, during an attack, it can become an aggravated assault.
- The intent of the offender – The law is likely to make a difference between an attacker who loses his temper and lashes out and one who shows a clear and premeditated intent to cause harm to a victim. Evidence like past interactions, threats, and the words used during an attack can be important in deciding whether to bring aggravated assault charges.
- The extent of the injuries – An assault charge is also linked to how seriously the victim was injured. Attacks that cause serious injuries, disfigurements, burns, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, or life-threatening injuries bring aggravated assault charges.
Aggravated assault is a very serious charge. It only takes the word of one accuser for you to be facing the loss of your liberty for up to a decade. Contact an experienced criminal defense professional as soon as possible to work on your defense.
Classification of Charges for Aggravated Assault in Maryland
If a police officer charges you with aggravated assault, it will typically be a first-degree or a second-degree assault. First-degree assault is a felony and second-degree cases are usually charged as a misdemeanor.
What is First-Degree Assault in Maryland?
First-degree assault in Maryland is defined under Maryland Criminal Code, Section 3-202. You face the most serious assault charge, a felony, in the state if you commit an assault with a firearm, shotgun, rifle, short-barreled shotgun or short-barreled rifle or you intentionally cause serious physical harm to another person.
The law defines serious physical harm as causing an injury that creates a substantial risk of death, permanent or prolonged disfigurement, or loss of function or impairment of function in a bodily organ or an appendage.
People charged with first-degree assault face up to 25 years imprisonment and/or up to $5,000 in fines.
If you swing a baseball bat at someone or threaten them with pepper spray you would likely be charged with a second-degree assault. It would become a first-degree felony if you caused a serious injury. Both scenarios could constitute an aggravated assault.
What is Second-Degree Assault in Maryland?
Many clients are not sure if a second-degree assault in Maryland is a felony or a misdemeanor. Second-degree assault in Maryland is classified as a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of a second-degree assault in Maryland you will face a potential jail sentence of up to 10 years and a $2,500 fine or both.
Second-degree assault is one of the most common crimes in Maryland. Many people are wrongly charged with this crime. Prosecutors must prove that the accused intended to frighten another person. The state can show an attempted battery like an offensive physical touching of another. The victim does not have to sustain serious bodily injury. All that’s required is an intentional act and touching.
Second-degree assault is a problematic area and a lot of overcharging appears to go on in Maryland. Spending 10 years behind bars is a long time for touching someone without causing an injury.
However, you can be charged with second-degree assault for any harmful touching under Maryland Criminal Code, Section 3-201 excluding attacks that cause death, the loss of a body part or injury or disfigurement. The prosecution merely needs to prove the touching was intentional. It’s a very broad definition.
Call a Baltimore Aggravated Assault Defense Lawyer About Your Charges Today
Assault is a serious crime that can deprive you of your liberty and your career whether it’s charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Contact a Baltimore criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after police charge you with this offense. Defense attorney Randolph Rice has represented hundreds of assault clients and won acquittals or reduced sentences in many cases. Some defendants fail to take assault charges seriously – until it’s too late. Please contact our Baltimore-based assault defense lawyer today.