Second Degree Assault Maryland Defense Lawyer
One of the more common District Court criminal offenses is also one of the more simply written, that being the crime of Second Degree Assault.
Criminal Law Article Section 3-203 makes committing assault a crime, and simply states "A person may not commit an assault." The crime is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of ten years of incarceration and $2500 fine.
What Makes a Second Degree Assault?
As to what actually constitutes an assault in the eyes of the law, common law, Maryland Criminal Code, and case law have provided three basic actions that can be considered assault:
The first, and the one that we naturally think of when we think of the word assault is "battery", which is causing offensive physical contact, in any degree, to another person. The contact must be the result of an intentional or reckless act, but not accidental, as long as the offensive physical contact was not consented to or legally justified.
The second, similar to the first, is "attempted battery", which is trying to cause offensive physical contact to another person with the intent to do so, as long as the attempted contact was not consented to or legally justified. Think of the expression, a swing and a miss.
The final type of assault is the intent to frighten another with the threat of offensive physical contact, which is an act which a person does with the intent to place someone in fear of being hit, coupled with the apparent ability to do so, which is actually perceived that person and reasonable places that person in fear, again, as long as the action is not legally justified. Think about the "made you flinch" game that an older sibling may have played with you as a child.
Bring a trial lawyer to Court, not an ambulance chaser.
Second Degree Assault is the type of case that Defendants have a lot of success with at trial, even in front of State oriented District Court judges. In addition to specific recognized defenses like self defense, law enforcement officers are usually not the witnesses in assault cases, and the testimony boils down to two separate versions of a fight that the Court does have enough to believe one over the other beyond a reasonable doubt.
In addition, if there is enough evidence to generate specific defenses, a Defendant can argue that he only assaulted the alleged victim because he was defending himself, defending a third party, defending his property, or defending his home. A Defendant can also argue that the alleged victim consented to the assault. The State often closes their case with a simple question to the alleged victim asking "did you consent to being hit by Mr. X here?" to which that person usually says no. Yes, there are situations where two guys at a bar walk out into the parking lot, roll up their sleeves, and decide to fight to settle a difference, and that's the classic version of consent, but the alleged victim can take other actions that evidences they are agreeing to a fight to contradict their testimony. For instance, an alleged victim can't walk up to someone and punch them in the nose, then claim they didn't consent to the fight that followed that action. Just because someone doesn't consent to losing in a fight doesn't mean they didn't consent to that fight. Self defense is often an issue in these types of assault charges. The state may try to entice a person to plead guilty when charged with an assault crime; however, Maryland Criminal Code provides very little guidance on what actually constitutes an illegal assault.
Can an assault second degree be a felony?
Second Degree Assault is generally a misdemeanor, but in a limited situation it is considered a felony. When the alleged victim in an assault is a law enforcement officer, a probation agent, a firefighter, EMT, or first responder, AND if the State can prove physical injury, which is defined as any impairment to physical condition other than a minor injury, a conviction would be a felony subject to the same maximum ten year sentence with a higher maximum fine of $5000.
First Degree assault is a felony, and many second degree assault cases involve both charges. First Degree Assault is typically charged when a second degree assault is charged, and strangulation is alleged. Additionally, the presence of weapons may give rise to a first degree assault charge. Second degree assault is a misdemeanor, and typically the State will dismiss first degree assault charges before the case is brought to Circuit Court. Serious bodily harm is not often present in these cases, and intent to cause bodily harm is a requirement for a first degree assault that does not involve a gun or strangulation. Minor injuries won't make a first degree assault charge against a reasonable person.
Hire an Experienced Criminal Lawyer
When charged with assault, you should look to retain an attorney that has experience in trials in that jurisdiction, as there is often not a lot to lose by going to trial, and often much to gain, as even when you lose, you provide to the judge your version of the offense that serves you better than a plea litany, hat in hand, ever could. If you've received your first charge, you might have a lot of questions. We are here to answer them. We will keep confidential or sensitive information private, and offer free consultations on second degree assault cases. The criminal justice system can seem confusing.
Luke Woods and Max Frizalone have tried hundreds of second degree assault cases between them, winning many outright as the alleged victim's story often falls apart under scrutiny and cross examination. While not all second degree assaults go to trial, many do- go to your trial date with an attorney with proven trial experience on assault cases willing to fight for you. Whether your case is in Frederick County, Prince George's County, Howard County, Baltimore County, or Anne Arundel County, we can help fight your charges. Max Frizalone is a former assistant states attorney in Prince George's county, and he can help with any first degree assault or second degree assault charge.
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Upper Marlboro Office
14513 Main Street, Ste B,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772