Charges involving assault are more complex than they may at first appear. While it is generally known that it is illegal to touch another person without their permission, Maryland’s laws concerning assault are nuanced.
The Legislature has enacted no fewer than three classes of assault, each with their own definitions and potential penalties. No matter the version of assault that a person is accused of committing, an experienced defense attorney could provide a powerful defense.
A Salisbury assault lawyer may work with clients to defend their freedom against allegations of assault. A defense can include the ideas of mistaken identity, that the defendant did not intend to cause an injury, or even self-defense.
Assault Under Maryland Law
Maryland’s statutes do not provide a definition of assault. Instead, Md. Criminal Law Code §3-203 merely states that a person may not commit an assault. This relegates courts to rely upon the common law to determine the definition of an assault.
Traditionally, courts have defined an assault as any unwelcome physical contact or the threat of physical contact made against another person. This can be the result of an intentional act, such as punching another, or recklessness that is likely to result in physical harm.
In addition, a defendant does not need to make contact to be guilty of assault. Simply acting in a way that places another in imminent fear of physical harm is also an example of assault. Therefore, using the above example, a person who swings and misses at another may be just as guilty as one who connects. For more information about assault laws, reach out to a knowledgeable defense lawyer.
Three Versions of Assault
Maryland’s criminal code creates three levels of assault. The basic level is assault in the second degree as described by Md. Criminal Law Code §3-203. This simply states that it is illegal to commit an assault. The statute states that this is a misdemeanor where a conviction can result in up to 10 years in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
More serious are allegations of assault in the first degree. According to Md. Criminal Law Code §3-202, an assault in the first degree is an assault that results in a serious bodily injury. In addition, any assault involving the use of a firearm is also assault in the first degree. Convictions here are felonies that carry a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.
Finally, the law creates a special type of assault charge for inmates in jail and prisons. Under Md. Criminal Law Code §3-205, inmates face additional consecutive sentences for assault upon an employee of the sheriff’s department involving bodily fluid. This additional term may be as long as ten years. A Salisbury assault lawyer could help defendants no matter the version of assault that they face.
Reach Out to a Salisbury Assault Attorney
Assaults are some of the most common cases heard by Salisbury’s criminal courts. This is because any unwelcome contact between people may result in assault charges. Indeed, even if a defendant merely attempts to cause harm to another they may be in violation of the law.
However, there are many defenses available to defendants facing assault charges. These can include mistaken identity, self-defense, or even duress. A Salisbury assault lawyer could help defendants to evaluate the strength of a prosecutor’s case, to choose a defense that is likely to work for them, and to present that defense at all court appearances. Contact an attorney today to discuss your case.