Across the U.S., assault is one of the most common criminal charges and in Maryland, it’s no different. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to touch someone or harm them to be charged with assault. Here’s what you need to know about assault in Maryland and what you can do to protect yourself after an arrest.
To be charged with assault, you must have:
- had undesired physical contact with another person (battery)
- attempted undesired physical contact with another person
- made someone genuinely afraid that undesired physical contact would occur
This means that although assault charges can include physical contact, they don’t necessarily have to. You can be charged with assault even if you only ever spoke to the alleged victim.
Types of Assault
There are generally two types of assault in Maryland:
Second Degree Assault
The least severe of the two, second degree assault is a misdemeanor and carries a criminal sentence of up to 10 years in prison and up to a $2,500 fine. Any assault that doesn’t meet the requirements of a first degree assault is charged as second degree.
First Degree Assault
First degree assault can be charged when a person attempts to harm someone else, intentionally causes serious physical harm to another person, or uses a firearm during an assault.
The penalties for first degree assault are serious, and include incarceration for up to 25 years in a Maryland state prison.
In either type of assault, if the victim of the assault was a police officer or other type of law enforcement official, the penalties may be increased according to the discretion of the judge.
While not an assault charge itself, reckless endangerment often goes hand in hand. A person who has been accused of assault may also be accused of reckless endangerment if they put another individual or several individuals at the risk of catastrophic injury or death.
While the prosecution must prove intent to successfully have someone charged with assault convicted of the crime, the same does not apply to reckless endangerment. Someone can be charged with reckless endangerment even if they did not mean to put someone else at the risk of serious injury or death.
When to Hire a Lawyer
Even misdemeanor assault charges have the potential to leave someone with a criminal record, fines, and years in prison. You can protect yourself with a number of defense strategies, but it’s crucial that you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to help.
Contact the Avid Law Firm, LLC today for a consultation at (240) 561-7433.