Maryland Second-Degree Assault Lawyer
Traditional assault, which used to be called battery in Maryland, involves physical contact or harm to another person that is done intentionally and without consent. Second-degree assault charges may be filed if the defendant attempted to use physical contact to cause harm. They may not actually succeed in touching or harming the other party, but if they try to, and if it was their intent to do so, they might be charged with second-degree assault.
If you are facing charges, it is essential to contact a Maryland second-degree assault lawyer as soon as possible. The state takes these charges seriously and the penalties can be severe. Having an experienced attorney by your side increases the likelihood of achieving the best outcome possible.
Elements of the Offense
Threats can also result in second-degree assault charges if the defendant intends to frighten the other into believing that some sort of harmful physical contact is imminent. This means that defendant did something with the intent to place the someone in fear that they about to be touched or harmed, that the defendant had the apparent ability at that moment to do it, and that because of the defendant’s actions, the accuser was reasonably placed in fear that they were about to be harmed.
Difference in Assault Charges
A second-degree assault is a misdemeanor, meaning it is within the jurisdiction of the district court of Maryland. Typically, a second-degree assault will only be moved to circuit court if the defendant requests a jury trial because jury trials are only held in circuit court.
Assaults and batteries are now codified in Maryland criminal law. Now the charges of second-degree assault and first-degree assault are used to encompass battery as well. There was a time before the statutes came into existence when Maryland employed terms like aggravated assault, assault with intent to maim, assault with intent to murder, etc… These are now included in first-degree assault.
In Maryland, assault with a deadly weapon would refer to a first-degree assault, which includes committing an assault with a firearm and any sort of assault that involves serious physical injury.
In Maryland, second-degree assault is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years and/or a fine. However, it is extremely rare to see a second-degree assault case where the defendant is sentenced to 10 years.
In order for that to happen, the defendant would have to have significant prior convictions. More commonly, the penalty could include a suspended sentence and some period of probation, which would depend on a number of factors, such as whether the defendant had any prior record and how serious the injuries were.
Difference in Consequences from First Degree Assault
The long-term consequences for a second-degree assault conviction in Maryland are not nearly as severe as those for first-degree assault. A person convicted of second-degree assault may potentially end up with a criminal record, but the charge is much less serious.
A second-degree assault can be as simple as someone touching another person without their permission. Because it does not require that the accuser be injured, the circumstances can be easier to explain to potential employers if necessary.
If it is a defendant’s first offense, the judge may consider granting something called probation before judgment, which means the judge will strike the guilty finding as long as the defendant successfully completes a period of probation. That sort of sentencing disposition is much more likely in a second-degree assault case than it is in a first-degree assault case.
Standard of Proof
The evidence prosecutors might use when arguing a case depends on what type of second-degree assault the defendant is alleged to have committed. Often, the evidence will be the statements of the accuser and the other witnesses, because none of these varieties of assault require that there be any specific physical injury.
The state is not necessarily required to prove injury, but they will have to prove that there was either touching or an attempt to touch, or that it was the defendant’s intent to place the other in fear of imminent touching or harm.
Role of Intent
The state must also show that the defendant intended to do what they are accused of doing. If a defendant makes physical contact or causes harm to another person and it was an accident, it would not be considered assault.
A Maryland second-degree assault lawyer will examine the evidence and the facts of the case to determine whether the defendant has a valid self-defense argument. In order to argue self-defense, the defendant must be able to prove that they had a reasonable belief that the other party was harming them or about to harm them, and that the defendant used only as much force as necessary to stop that from happening.
There are other defenses as well, and the best one will become clear pending further examination of the facts of each case.
How An Attorney Can Help
While not as serious as first-degree assault charges, the potential penalties for second-degree assault can have significant effects on a person’s life. If you are facing charges, a Maryland second-degree assault lawyer will be able to work with you to mitigate the damages and achieve the best outcome possible.