Maryland First-Degree Assault Lawyer
As defined by Maryland law, in order for somebody to be convicted of a first-degree assault, the state must first be able to prove all the elements of a misdemeanor of second-degree assault. One way of looking at it is that first-degree assault is like an aggravated second-degree assault, there must be attempted or actual physical contact, or the intent to place someone in fear that they are about to be harmed.
The state must show that the defendant either used a firearm or other deadly weapon to commit that assault, or it was their intention to cause serious physical injury to the person. First-degree felony assault charges can be filed if the defendant makes a threat of imminent harm that meets these criteria as well, even if they made no physical contact and did not cause injury.
If you have been charged with assault in Maryland, a distinguished assault lawyer can review the facts of your case as you prepare for trial. A Maryland first-degree assault lawyer will work with you when planning a defense towards your desired future.
Use of a Weapon
It is common for a Maryland first-degree assault charges to involve the use of a weapon because anytime there is an assault and a firearm is used, that makes it a first-degree assault. In these situations, it is important to remember that it will be a first-degree assault even if the person is never touched and the gun is never fired.
An individual can be charged and convicted of first-degree assault in Maryland even if there is no weapon involved whatsoever because first-degree assault also includes causing or attempting to cause serious physical injury. If the defendant is beating up the victim and breaks bones or causes an injury that needs stitches, that can be considered first-degree assault, even if no weapon was used.
If the person threatens another person with a firearm by pointing it at them or displaying it and making statements about their intent to use it, they could easily be charged with first-degree assault. It may be vital to contact a Maryland first-degree assault lawyer to review your case.
Because first-degree assault is a felony in Maryland, it will be heard in the circuit court. At the circuit court level, the defendant can have the option of having the case tried by a judge or tried by a jury. If a person touched or harmed another person, but they did so in self-defense, they would not be found guilty at a trial. Maryland first-degree assault lawyers will often do an analysis of whether or not self-defense is a viable defense for that case.
Arguing self-defense can be complicated because it requires the defense to prove that the defendant committed the assault because they were being assaulted and that they had a reasonable belief that they needed to fight back to protect themselves from harm. The defense must also be able to argue that the amount of force used by the defendant was necessary in order to stop them from being assaulted.
Whether or not the victim actually sustained a serious physical injury is another mitigating factor a Maryland first-degree assault lawyer who might use to refute the prosecution’s claims. If someone has to go in for surgery to correct the injury, it is fairly clear-cut and the jury is probably going to find that to be a first-degree assault. In a case that does not require very much medical treatment, it becomes a little less clear as to whether or not there was a serious physical injury, and a skilled attorney might use that uncertainty to mitigate on behalf of their client.
Maryland First-Degree Assault Penalties
Often the Maryland assault sentence will require a period of incarceration that defendant must complete, followed by a period of the sentence that is suspended. In these cases, the person is placed on a period of probation once they are released from incarceration. If they violate their probation, the judge has the option of imposing the three years that was suspended. A Maryland first-degree assault lawyer could impose some of the suspended sentence or all of it on behalf of the individual. However, that would be within the judge’s discretion.
The maximum penalty for a first-degree assault in Maryland is 20 years. Because it is a felony, it carries a very serious penalty. In Maryland, circuit courts a judge will use sentencing guidelines to determine what would be an appropriate sentence for the defendant. The guidelines for sentencing first-degree assault are very high, and they almost always include a prison sentence. First-degree assault is considered in Maryland to be a crime of violence. This means the defendant would have to complete at least 50 percent of their sentence before they would be eligible for parole.
Impacts of Assault Conviction
One consequence of Maryland first-degree assault is having to serve a prison sentence can have lasting consequences because it entails removing the person from their home, their employment, and their loved ones. That is a life-altering period after which they could be released into a negative situation where they may not have employment or a place to live.
When a person has a serious conviction on their record, it could affect their ability to find an apartment to rent or to obtain employment, as potential landlords and employers can take a person’s criminal record into consideration. If charged, an individual should contact a Maryland first-degree assault lawyer because these consequences can linger for many years after their sentence is complete.
Retaining a Lawyer
An experienced attorney will understand the distinction between a second and first-degree assault and may have had previous cases where they successfully were able to argue that whatever happened did not rise to the level of a first-degree assault, or maybe was not an assault at all.
It is important to seek counsel from a Maryland first-degree assault lawyer who has handled other cases that involved a defense of self-defense because they must have all of the elements in place in order to argue it successfully to a jury. A person charged with assault will especially want to hire somebody who has a lot of jury trial experience and knows how to successfully persuade jurors to see the case from the defendant’s perspective.