Physical altercations between two (or sometimes more) parties can potentially result in a variety of legal charges, or no charges at all. This all depends on the exact scenario, the circumstances of how the altercation began, the extent of any injuries or property damage, and the dispositions of the involved parties. One of the most common charges to arise as the result of a fight or physical attack is an assault charge.
The exact definition of assault, the sub-classifications of assault types, and the potential penalties for committing an assault can have significant differences from state to state. However, the concept of assault is a fairly simple one: it is a crime that deliberately injures someone else or makes an attempt to do so.
In Maryland, the most serious type of assault charge is first-degree assault, or “assault in the first degree,” per the precise legal definition. Assault in the first degree is defined under Section 3-202 of Maryland’s criminal code, and it can encompass a wide variety of situations.
A Maryland first-degree assault conviction can carry serious penalties. If you find yourself caught up in first-degree assault charges, with or without a weapon involved, it is in your best interests to locate a qualified criminal defense attorney in Columbia, MD. Even if you have been wrongfully accused and believe that you can prove your own innocence in court, you will find that a first-degree assault conviction can be extremely difficult to avoid without professional legal help.
Section 3-202 of the Maryland criminal code, which defines “assault in the first degree,” prohibits a few specific things:
These broad criteria can sometimes leave room for a criminal defense attorney, the judge, the accused, the plaintiff, witnesses, and the jury to have an open and productive dialogue about whether a particular case actually meets the definition of first-degree assault. The phrase “attempting to cause serious physical injury” alone leaves plenty of room for interpretation, and a qualified Columbia criminal defense attorney can use that to a defendant’s advantage. For a first-degree assault conviction based on that part of the law, there must be unambiguous evidence that proves the defendant was truly “attempting” to cause injury. There must also be evidence that the injury in question is, or would have been, “serious.” With all this room for interpretation, first-degree assault cases can quickly become complicated legal issues full of conflicting interpretations of events.
Under Maryland law, first-degree assault is a felony charge. The courts take assault extremely seriously, and a first-degree assault conviction in Maryland can result in up to 25 years in prison. If a defendant facing a first-degree assault charge is actually guilty of the offense, there are still legal options available. A skilled attorney can attempt to get the charges reduced to a different form of assault or something else entirely. Second-degree assault is only a misdemeanor charge in Maryland, so fighting to have the charge reduced can be an extremely valuable tactic for defendants facing jail time.
When criminal assault charges are brought against a defendant, these charges are subject to the same rules and procedures that govern all criminal court cases. This means that an assault charge can potentially be dropped, but this must be done by the authorities in charge of prosecuting the case rather than the injured party. This differs from a personal injury case in civil court, where the injured party might simply choose to drop the case if they feel it is not worth their time or because they have settled matters outside of court. If the prosecution or judge in an assault case can be convinced that the case does not have merit, or is otherwise not worth pursuing, it is possible that assault charges could be dropped completely.
Some situations in which assault charges might be dropped include:
If you have been implicated in a first-degree assault and believe that you have sufficient grounds to get your charges reduced or dropped, working with a skilled and reputable Columbia, MD, first-degree assault lawyer is a good way to ensure that your side of the story is told in court.
As with many types of crimes, the specific charges and sentencing for assault will vary depending on the circumstances of the specific crime being prosecuted. However, first-degree assault is the most serious charge.
Anyone who commits assault with a gun, through strangulation, or with intent to cause serious injury can be charged with first-degree assault, and the penalty for being convicted of first-degree assault is currently up to 25 years in prison. Note that this penalty may be even longer if an assault charge is exacerbated by other crimes or prior offenses.
Due to the nature of assault crimes, they are frequently found in conjunction with other legal situations such as:
When charges are “packaged” in this way, a conviction can potentially mean more than the 25-year maximum sentence for first-degree assault on its own.
If you are facing a combination of assault charges and other charges in Columbia, Maryland, you should consider seeking the services of a first-degree assault lawyer. A quality criminal defense attorney can fight for charges to be reduced or dropped.
In general terms, an assault occurs whenever someone deliberately harms, or attempts to harm, another person. There are a few exceptions to this rule—acts of violence occurring in self-defense, as part of a sanctioned combat sport, or during war are not typically framed as “assaults,” for example.
In Maryland, the crime known as assault in the first degree is more specifically regulated. For an act of violence to count as first-degree assault under Maryland law, it must meet one of these definitions:
All sorts of physical attacks can meet the definition of assault—or even first-degree assault if done with sufficient malicious intent. This includes kicking, punching, and biting. It can even include attacks that some may try to play off as less “serious,” such as slapping and pushing.
If someone was deliberately pushed onto an unsafe surface with the intention of injuring them, for example, this could also meet the threshold for felony first-degree assault charges.
Under Maryland law, a judge has broad authority to sentence someone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony as they see fit, but this is subject to certain guidelines. For a felony charge to result in a sentence of probation, certain conditions must be met. Even if you are sentenced to prison time, it may yet be possible to have the sentence reduced after the fact.
Getting off with only probation or seeking early parole can be particularly difficult when it comes to felony assault convictions. This is because of special stipulations under Maryland law related to what are known as “crimes of violence” under Maryland law. Violent crimes in Maryland are subject to special sentencing rules. Under these rules, someone sentenced to the maximum of 25 years imprisonment for a felony assault charge would have to serve at least half of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
When you need a powerful Maryland assault defense that will hold up in a court of law, the legal team at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, PA, is standing by to help. When it comes to an assault charge, the sooner you retain legal help, the better. Do not let false accusations and misunderstandings ruin your reputation and jeopardize your freedom. The Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, PA, with locations in Columbia and Glen Burnie, can help. Contact us today for a confidential, no-judgment review of your assault case.
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Glen Burnie, MD 21061
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10440 Little Patuxent Parkway,
Columbia, MD 21044