Defend Against Assault Charges
Assault cases can quickly escalate beyond the incident itself – resulting in decades behind bars. Defend yourself and your family from aggravated assault charges of the first and second degree with the legal team at JC Law.
Contact our office in Linthicum Heights to schedule your initial consultation with our skilled team by calling 443-679-5450 or emailing us here. Before you meet with us, we took the liberty of answering some of your earlier questions here:
What Is Assault?
Maryland law defines assault as intentionally causing or attempting to cause “serious physical injury” to another.
There are two separate degrees of assault: First and second.
Second-degree assault charges are generally issued in instances where someone’s safety was threatened – without a firearm – or minor injuries occurred.
Note that the law considers the alleged victim’s mindset when determining if the defendant was “threatening” a bystander. When judging threats, it is the victim’s experience that matters here, not necessarily the defendant’s intent alone.
Possible instances where second-degree assault may be charged include:
- Revving up a car to make someone think the driver might run them down.
- Attempting to punch someone in a bar fight.
- Throwing a full glass bottle of beer into a mosh pit and accidentally hitting someone in the head. (Even if the thrower didn’t actively intend to hit anyone, such actions represent a “reckless” disregard for risk that may be prosecuted.)
- Intentionally shoving a police officer in uniform so that he trips and breaks his ankle.
First-degree assault charges are more serious. Per Maryland law, prosecutors must believe the defendant not only threatened or committed serious physical harm, but also did it with a gun or other firearm.
(Don’t wave shotguns at people – even as a joke!)
Is Battery The Same As Assault?
Traditionally, “battery” was considered a separate crime, where actual physical harm occurred, while “assault” was minor injuries or the threat of them.
However, modern laws often combine the two. In Maryland law, “assault” and “battery” are generally the same.
What Is An Aggravated Assault In Maryland? Is It Different Than First- Or Second-Degree Assault?
“Aggravated assault” isn’t technically codified into Maryland law. However, being charged with it can increase the severity of the charge and possible sentencing.
Aggravated assault charges consider peripheral circumstances to the incident, including:
- Was there a weapon involved? It doesn’t have to be a firearm, like for first-degree assault charges. A knife, baseball bat, broken beer bottle – anything that could do extra damage and be classified as a weapon in that instance.
- What did the defendant intend? If it was just a drunken tussle between friends with no intent for lasting harm, then it probably wouldn’t qualify for aggravated assault. However, if law enforcement thinks the defendant’s action was meant for permanent or substantial injury to a specific individual – basically, that there was a provable motive – then it may be charged as an aggravated assault.
- Who was the target? Courts go after those who target public servants such as firefighters or police officers harshly. Prosecutors may also see if hate crime may be an aggravating factor in a case involving a minority victim.
- How bad was the injury? If it’s a scraped knee or a bruised eye, then it may not rise to an aggravated assault. However, if permanent bodily harm occurred – stitched wounds that may result in a scar, and surgery or extensive hospital stay required – then the assault may rise to an aggravated level.
Our experience in these types of cases have resulted in many testimonies such as:
“I was assaulted in the 2nd degree, and the defendant counter-charged me with the same. James Crawford showed the state that the charge was groundless, and they dropped it a full week before the trial date.”
What Are Possible Sentences For Assault?
Whether first or second-degree assault, convictions result in heavy sentences.
Either assault charge will result in a felony conviction, for example, giving you a permanent record.
- Second-degree assault sentences go up to 10 years in prison and a fine.
- First-degree assault sentences max out at 25 years in prison.
If convicted of aggravated assault, expect the sentences of either type of charge to skew higher, rather than lower.
How Can A Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Defend Assault Cases?
One of the best ways an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help with assault cases is to eliminate exaggerated charges.
They can do this by showing the court that the defendant did not intend to threaten or physically harm the accuser – eliminating justification for an aggravated assault charge.
Sometimes, people mistake objects for lethal weapons in a time of stress. Their incorrect reports to law enforcement then bring more severe charges than the situation merited.
For example, a child may be shooting squirrels with a water gun in a park. As a bystander passes, they playfully point the water gun at them – causing the bystander to fear for themselves.
Of course, that is an extremely simplified version of the incredibly nuanced circumstances which surround assault cases. Rarely is a true assault charge that cut-and-dry.
Explaining these and other misconceptions surrounding their clients is why finding an excellent criminal defense team is worth it: To help keep you and your loved ones out of prison and home where they belong.
Get The Representation You Deserve
If you are looking for experienced legal representation from a lawyer serving the Baltimore area, call 443-679-5450 or email us here to schedule your initial consultation today. The sooner you reach out to one of our attorneys, the sooner you can earn the outcome you deserve in your case.