Maryland broadly defines assault (generally paired with battery) as the unwanted or harmful contact with another individual. It is classified under two main categories: first degree and second degree. Assault is generally considered a misdemeanor in Maryland unless it ascends to constituting a first-degree case.
First-degree assault describes cases where serious and severe bodily harm (or attempted harm) is afflicted upon another individual – including cases where there is a substantial risk of death or permanent damage. It also covers any assaults conducted using a firearm, regardless of whether the assailant comes into direct contact with the victim or intent motivated the act.
First degree assault can carry a sentence of up to 25 years in a state prison.
Second degree assault covers all cases of assault that fail the criteria that may warrant a first degree conviction. Second degree assault – unlike first degree – is considered a misdemeanor which can carry a sentence of up to ten years and/or accompanied by hefty fines equivalent to a compounded sum of 2500 USD. Maryland law defines second-degree assault as the ‘the intentional creation (with something other than words), of a reasonable fear in the mind of the victim that they are about to encounter bodily harm.’ It is necessary to emphasize on the law’s specificity in detailing the victim’s mental state. As a result, the perpetrator’s mindset and motives are generally not factored in, since it is the victim’s sense of threat that consolidates the conviction.
Maryland also prohibits what it considers ‘reckless endangerment,’ which is defined as conduct that (regardless of intent) places another individual(s) at substantial risk of physical harm. It goes on to detail cases where a firearm is discharged from a moving vehicle. Proof of intent is obviated; all that needs to be established is the criminal act along with the circumstances that warrant the conviction of ‘reckless endangerment (negligence). Reckless endangerment is classified as a penitentiary misdemeanor carrying a sentence of up to five years with fines that may sum up to a maximum of 5000 USD.
The consequences of all aforementioned felonies double in severity if the victim (whether intentional or not) is an on-duty member of the law enforcement community.
Some common defenses against assault accusations include:
- Self defense: a plausible method to combat an accusation is through the claim that the conduct was a reciprocation of or a response to a perceived threat. If the response is proportional to the threat, then Maryland self-defense laws are applicable.
- Affirmative defense: the alleged assault can be justified is conducted in order to prevent the seemly victim from conducting a crime or from the infliction of harm to you.
- No credible threat is a defense used to discredit the very claim of assault. A ‘No Credible Threat’ can be used to dismantle the conviction if the purported assailant can prove that there was no risk of bodily injury, and that there was no reasonable sense of fear evoked in the victim (especially if they consented to it)
- Mistaken identity is a defense used in cases where the identity of the assailant is ambiguous, or hard to legally establish.
If you need a Maryland Assault Lawyer to help you with your Assault case in Maryland, call us at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland Accident Attorneys can help you. B