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Maryland Assault Attorney
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There are various kinds of assault in Maryland. You can be charged with a first degree assault — which is sometimes referred to as a felony assault — or a second degree assault, which is sometimes referred to as a simple assault. The difference between these two kinds of charges is dramatic because of the amount of time that they potentially carry. A misdemeanor assault for example can carry a period of up to 10 years of incarceration but a felony assault can go all the way up to 25 years of incarceration.
Starting with a misdemeanor assault, I can tell you that usually these kinds of assaults are what you would typically expect to see in a bar fight or with a minor domestic violence dispute. In these kinds of situations, there is usually no permanent or serious physical injury to another party, but rather unconsented touching or contact with another person. Usually these cases are handled by the District Court in Maryland. The District Court, which is responsible for primarily prosecuting misdemeanor cases, is going to hear misdemeanor assault or assault second degree cases usually on a docket.
That docket is going to have many other similar types of charges on it, and a prosecutor is going to be working all of those cases with the various defense attorneys in that room. Usually when somebody is charged with a misdemeanor assault offense, they can expect that they are going to be questioned by the police, they are going to obviously give a statement — usually their version of events — and usually there is going to be an inquiry into the level and seriousness of the injuries that might take place against another party in the course of that assault.
What you should know is that immediately after you are charged with an assault or during an assault investigation, particularly for a misdemeanor assault, you should not answer any questions about your version of the events. Very likely, the police officers are going to arrest you anyway and are trying to get you to commit to statements before you have hired an attorney so that they can be used against you in a court of law. Usually committing to statements like this in the heat of the moment, immediately after your arrested or during the course of an investigation for an assault, can be extremely detrimental when you’re faced with a criminal charge on your court date.
In a felony assault case where there is permanent injury, some sort of serious physical injury or the threat of death or serious physical harm, you are going to see that case handled in the Circuit Court of Maryland. Again, Circuit Court is a place where primarily felonies are prosecuted, and these are typically more serious cases, sometimes involving a weapon, and again often involving very serious physical injury to another party. The investigation process is the same as it would be in a misdemeanor assault situation where a police officer might come to the scene, might ask for interviews from various people who were involved, particularly the person that is accused.
Again, in this situation, you do not want to present the officer or whoever is investigating the matter with too much information before contacting an attorney because, for the same reason, they are trying to build a case against you and these statements can often be used in a court of law to prosecute your case.
Maryland state law also covers a variety of different laws regarding assault and domestic violence, which differ in penalties based on the nature of the alleged crime. For example, assault on a law enforcement officer, probation officer, or parole agent is a very serious accusation in the state, carrying a possible penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and a $5,000.00 fine, detailed under Section 3-203(c)(2).
Both aggravated assault and domestic violence reports have been on the decline in Maryland since 2006. In 2010, the Disaster Center estimated the total aggravated assaults in the state at 18,909, down from 22,011 in 2006. The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention in Maryland also estimated the 2010 number of domestic violence crimes in the state at 17,931, down 18.4 percent from 21,965 in 2006.
Two general types of assault exist in Maryland under Sections 3-202 and 3-203 of the Criminal Code. Section 3-202 is the more serious of the two, and covers mainly felony assault in the first degree. Although classified as a misdemeanor, second degree assault is still a serious criminal charge that can result in a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment and a $2,500 fine. A Maryland defense lawyer can help you prepare a strong defense if you are facing charges of assault or domestic violence. A free initial consultation can help you determine whether pleading down felony charges is possible in your particular case. More information on Maryland assault laws is available here.
Maryland state law also covers a variety of different laws regarding assault and domestic violence, which differ in penalties based on the nature of the alleged crime. For example, assault on a law enforcement officer, probation officer, or parole agent is a very serious accusation in the state, carrying a possible penalty of ten years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine, detailed under Section 3-203(c)(2).
Both aggravated assault and domestic violence charges have been on the decline in Maryland since 2006. In 2010, the Disaster Center estimated the total aggravated assaults in the state at 18,909, down from 22,011 in 2006. The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention in Maryland also estimated the 2010 number of domestic violence crimes in the state at 17,931, down 18.4 percent from 21,965 in 2006.
Please see below for additional information about assault in Rockville, which is where our office is located.
Charges of domestic violence or assault may be harmful financially and in your personal life. Please call (301) 761-4842 for a free consultation with an attorney.
Maryland Assault Law
Section 3-202 of Maryland state law forbids any person from intentionally causing or attempting to cause serious physical harm to another person. Section 3-202 also specifies penalties for committing assault with a deadly weapon in Maryland, including antique firearms, machine guns, regulated firearms and shotguns. Assault with a deadly weapon is nearly always charged as assault in the first degree.
First-degree assault is a very serious charge in Maryland, carrying a possible penalty of up to 25 years imprisonment. To be charged with first degree assault, the state must prove the following:
- That the crime meets all elements of second-degree assault, and
- The crime was committed with a firearm, or the intent of the assault was serious physical injury.
Maryland defines serious physical injury as a scenario that presents a reasonable risk of death on the part of the alleged victim or results in serious injuries that disfigure the victim or impair some bodily function. If you have been charged with first-degree assault in Maryland, an experienced Maryland defense lawyer can help you understand your charges and how best to approach them.
Second-degree assault differs from first-degree assault in Maryland in that it is a less serious charge, but it still carries a hefty potential penalty that a Maryland defense lawyer can help you fight. The maximum penalty for second-degree assault is ten years imprisonment. Under Section 3-203, any unwanted physical contact can be considered assault, even if it does not ultimately cause injury. Assault that poses no risk of death or serious injury is normally charged as second-degree assault; however, there are some exceptions as discussed below.
Assault Against a Law Enforcement Officer, Parole/Probation Agent
Even second-degree assault in Maryland can be charged as a felony if the assault is allegedly committed against a law enforcement officer, probation agent or parole officer. Felony charges typically only result if the alleged victim was engaged in the performance of their official duties, or the injuries suffered were more than minor injuries (impaired a physical condition). According to Section 3-203, anyone that commits second-degree assault on a government agent, including a law enforcement officer, is guilty of a felony, punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding $5,000.
If you are charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, you should be aware of the severity of the charges. If the assault is committed with a deadly weapon, you could face first-degree assault charges rather than assault in the second degree. A Maryland defense lawyer who has handled assault cases is vital to helping you navigate the Maryland court system.
Maryland Reckless Endangerment
According to Section 3-204 of the criminal code, reckless endangerment is illegal. This section states that a person may not:
- Recklessly discharge a firearm from a car or other motor vehicle in a way that establishes a serious risk of physical injury or death to another person
- Recklessly engage in any conduct that establishes a substantial risk of physical injury or death to another person
The penalty for this crime, according to state code Section 3-204(b), is a misdemeanor conviction as well as a fine of up to $5,000.00 and a jail sentence of up to five years.
Section 3-204(c) lists the exceptions for crimes of reckless endangerment. The section regarding the reckless endangerment of another individual does not apply to the production, manufacture or sale of a commodity or product, nor does it apply to use of a motor vehicle covered by Section 11-135 of the transportation code. According to this provision, a motor vehicle is a vehicle that is propelled by overhead electrical wires or self-propelled, and is not operated on rails. This same code states that mopeds and motor scooters are not considered motor vehicles.
In addition, the section regarding reckless discharge of a firearm from a motor vehicle does not apply to security guards or law enforcement officers in the performance of official duties, or individuals acting in defense of a violent crime including an attempted carjacking.
Maryland Domestic Violence Law
Domestic violence in Maryland does not necessarily imply physical contact, an important distinction, especially in regards to protective orders issued by the state. Some behaviors that fall under Maryland domestic violence law can include threatening comments, controlling access to friends/family, and physical abuse. Domestic violence can result in a host of charges depending on whether a first or second degree assault occurred during the alleged altercation. More often, a Maryland court will issue a court order or enforce an out-of-state protective order for the victim. If you are being charged with domestic violence or facing a protective order, a Maryland defense lawyer can help you understand the charges and dispute the legitimacy of the order.
Domestic violence is covered under Maryland family law, beginning with Section 4-508.1, which describes the penalties for violating an out-of-state protective order. While all offenses are normally charged as misdemeanors, the penalty differs based on the number of offenses. For example, first-time offenders face up to ninety days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Subsequent offenses can increase the maximum jail time to one year and increase the fine to a possible $2,500.
If the protective order is issued by the state of Maryland and is violated, the perpetrator can be convicted under FL Section 4-509, which allows for a 90-day imprisonment and $1,000 fine for first-time offenders. Subsequent offenses carry a maximum potential penalty of one year imprisonment and a $2,500 fine.
For Further Information
If you are interested in learning more about assault and domestic violence cases in Maryland, please see the links below.