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A Guide to Assault Laws in Maryland

Assault charges in the state of Maryland vary by degree and can also change due circumstance as well. The term “assault” encompasses a broad category of crimes and can range from misdemeanor to felony charges. It is important to know the laws when dealing with such a serious topic, as the assault charges differ greatly depending on force and weapon, as well as who is involved.

Do you know what to do if you are charged with assault in Maryland? This guide will cover the basics of Maryland assault laws and penalties therein. 

How Maryland is Different 

In many states, the crimes of assault and battery are classified and charged as separate crimes, but in Maryland they are not. The threat of violence as well as the actual act of physical violence are both considered assault under Maryland law.

Definition of Assault in Maryland

There are three different ways to commit an assault in Maryland:

  • A harmful or offensive touching,
  • Attempting to commit a harmful or offensive touching while having the present ability to do so, or
  • Placing another person in fear of an imminent harmful or offensive touching.Assault is defined in Sections 3-201(d) as any physical injury that:
  • Is so serious that it puts the victim at substantial risk of death
  • Causes permanent or serious: 
    • Lingering disfigurement
    • Impaired function of any body part

Loss of function in any body part

Second Degree Assault

Second degree assault is a misdemeanor crime that encompasses the common law offenses that used to be charged as “assault,” “battery,” and “assault and battery” and is one of the most commonly charged offenses in Maryland. Almost any confrontation that turns physical without resulting in serious bodily harm can be charged as second-degree assault. Although assault in the second degree is a misdemeanor in Maryland, it carries hefty penalties if charged.

There are three variations of second-degree assault that a person can be charged with:

  • Intent to frighten. This is a type of second-degree assault where an individual intentionally intimidates another person with the threat of immediate physical contact or physical harm.
  • Attempted battery. This is where someone attempting to commit battery or assault may be charged with second-degree assault, even if that individual never touches the other person. Attempted battery is trying to cause offensive physical contact or physical harm to another person.
  • Battery. This is where there is physical contact with another person.

Examples of Second Degree Assault

Second degree assault is defined as any act involving:

  • Slapping
  • Punching
  • Intentionally spitting on another person
  • Pushing
  • Hitting
  • Hitting a person with an object
  • Using a vehicle to hit another person or another person’s vehicle
  • Biting
  • Choking

Penalties for Second Degree Assault

The maximum sentence for second-degree is 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $2,500, or a combination of both, according to Section 3-203 of the Maryland code. The potential fine someone faces doubles if the victim is a police officer or member of the law enforcement community, which includes parole or probation officers. 

First Degree Assault

First-degree is the more serious of the two assault degrees and is considered a felony charge. Maryland criminal code § 3-202 outlines the laws pertaining to assault in the first degree and as so, first-degree assault is defined as intentionally causing or attempting to cause serious physical injury to another individual. Serious physical injury is defined as an injury creating substantial risk of death or permanent harm. Charges of first degree assault can also be brought by default if the assault is committed with the use of a firearm. First degree assault can also encompass any assault that involves strangulation.

In Maryland, crimes of domestic violence are governed by the same laws that pertain to assault committed against individuals that are not members of your household as well. For assault crimes that do not involve a firearm, serious physical injury to the victim must be proven.

Penalties for First Degree Assault

First degree assault is a felony punishable by up to 25 years imprisonment and a fine of $5,000. Because first degree assault is a crime of violence, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment for a second offense. For a third offense, the mandatory minimum sentence is 25 years of imprisonment. If a person is convicted a fourth time, he or she will be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. 

Defense Against Assault

There are many potential defenses to an assault, including self-defense, defense of others and defense of property. If you are claiming a defense to an assault, it is important that the defensive conduct was reasonable and not more than absolutely necessary. If you went “too far” in the eyes of the state, they will prosecute you anyway. Having quality legal counsel handle your case is invaluable during times of uncertainty or severity in your case.

Experienced and Established Defense with Widder Law

At Jeremy Widder Law, we specialize in protective orders and minor offenses, substance-related offenses, property crimes and non-violent felonies, as well as major offenses and violent felonies in Maryland.

Getting charged with a crime can be scary. You want someone who will listen and be your advocate. We are committed to walking with you from start to finish and giving your unique case the attention it deserves. 

Contact Jeremy Widder Law today to get the peace of mind that comes with quality legal counsel.                                                                                                                                              

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