When a conflict between two or more parties becomes physical, this can potentially result in a variety of different legal charges. The specific charges that the involved parties face will be determined by a number of factors, including the state laws in the area where the fight occurs, the exact circumstances of how the altercation began, and whether any injury or property damage occurred, among others. One of the more common charges to be filed after a fight or violent attack is assault. Most states have different levels and sub-types of assault on their books.
When stated in the most basic terms, assault is a rather simple concept. Assault is a criminal act that occurs when someone deliberately injures, or tries to injure, someone else. A few exceptions exist, such as violent acts done in wartime, in self-defense, or as part of a sanctioned sporting event like boxing or MMA, none of which would typically be considered “assault.”
There is a whole spectrum of possible crimes within that simplified definition, however, and Maryland’s laws attempt to account for this nuance. Assault could be a simple shove or slap, or it could consist of shooting at someone with a firearm. Therefore, Maryland and most other states have several different types or grades of assault defined in their legal codes. The exact definitions for each type of assault, the classifications of different assault charges, and the sentencing guidelines for those convicted of assault can sometimes be significantly different from state to state.
Maryland classifies assault cases as either first-degree or second-degree crimes, with first-degree crimes being the more serious, felony-level crimes. Lesser offenses are prosecuted as second-degree assault, or, more precisely, “assault in the second degree,” as it appears within the Maryland legal code. Second-degree assault is sometimes referred to as “common assault,” and it is often prosecuted as a misdemeanor-level offense. However, second-degree felony assault charges are also possible under certain circumstances.
In Maryland, second-degree assault occurs when someone commits or threatens unwanted, offensive physical contact. This could consist of shoving, hitting, or brandishing a weapon. Second-degree assault is the lesser of the two assault types defined in the Maryland criminal code. If the assault is committed with the intent to do great bodily harm or with the use of a gun, it would be a first-degree assault instead.
If you are charged with assault, it will be crucial to ensure you understand the exact crime you are being accused of. The potential penalties for a first-degree felony assault and a second-degree misdemeanor assault can be quite different. It is vital to work with a qualified Columbia criminal defense attorney to ensure that the charges against you are not excessive and that you are being treated fairly under the law.
Determining the difference between first- and second-degree assault under Maryland’s criminal code requires a certain amount of subjective critical thinking. However, the parameters are fairly clear:
The exact definitions for first- and second-degree assault are located in the Maryland Criminal Code, Sections 3-202 and 3-203.
Second-degree assault is sometimes called “common assault” or “simple assault” and tends to be prosecuted as a misdemeanor-level crime. Most court officials understand that sometimes people make bad decisions in a heated moment. So long as nobody is seriously injured, there does not need to be unduly harsh punishment for a minor physical altercation. If someone makes the bad choice to threaten another person in a moment of elevated emotional tension, it should not carry severe or lengthy consequences.
This is why most second-degree assaults are prosecuted at the misdemeanor level. Because second-degree assaults are usually misdemeanors, someone can be convicted and punished for a low-level assault without carrying the stigma of being branded a felon thereafter.
There are certain circumstances, however, where second-degree assault will be prosecuted as a felony. These include:
It is important to note that any assault involving the use of a firearm can also automatically be upgraded to a first-degree assault charge, which is a felony.
The Maryland justice system takes all acts or threats of physical violence very seriously. Someone arrested on an assault charge, for example, can be subject to very high bail. Even though second-degree assault is typically a misdemeanor, the penalties can still be very significant.
When a defendant is found guilty of misdemeanor assault in the second degree in Maryland, they can face up to 10 years in prison, $2,500 in fines, or both.
When a second-degree assault is prosecuted as a felony instead of a misdemeanor, the potential financial penalties become even steeper. Felony second-degree assault is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine, or both.
Sentencing will obviously become even more severe when second-degree assault charges are combined with other crimes like domestic violence, robbery, or reckless endangerment. Factors such as the defendant’s criminal history can also play a factor in sentencing.
By retaining the services of a highly qualified Maryland criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, PA, you can build an effective defense against assault charges. Even if the evidence is stacked against you, working with a reputable lawyer may help you find a path to having charges or sentences reduced.
Do not risk your freedom and reputation by facing the system without legal representation. Some of the tactics that can be used to successfully defend against second-degree assault charges include the following:
Sentences for misdemeanors like second-degree assault do not necessarily have to involve jail time. While even misdemeanor-level assaults can potentially land perpetrators in prison for years, an effective criminal defense attorney may be able to keep you out of jail even if you are convicted. The likelihood that an assault convict will get probation rather than imprisonment depends on the specific circumstances of the individual case, in addition to the quality of their legal counsel.
If the sentencing is not exacerbated by any additional charges, the maximum time one can be sentenced for a second-degree assault is 10 years, whether it is prosecuted at the misdemeanor or felony level. First-time simple assault offenses are unlikely to actually end with a 10-year sentence, however, unless the offense is particularly egregious. A skilled Maryland defense attorney can fight for a more lenient sentence, possibly eliminating jail time altogether.
In Maryland, there are over 100 specific misdemeanor-level crimes that may be eligible for expungement (removal from the legal record) so long as the convicted party meets certain criteria. Assault in the second degree is included on this list, so second-degree assault charges can potentially be expunged. A skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney will know the proper procedures for expunging your assault conviction. They can guide you through the process and determine whether you meet the qualifications.
If you need help fighting assault charges in Maryland, the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, PA, are available to help. We can get started crafting the perfect legal strategy to get your assault charges reduced or dropped. This way, you can put this stressful period behind you and move on with your life. Do not allow matters to become worse by trusting your freedom and your reputation to the system. Public defenders do their best, but their caseloads are too great to give your case the proper attention it needs. Meet this challenge with expert legal representation from the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, PA, with locations in Columbia and Glen Burnie, MD. Contact us today for a no-obligation, no-judgment review of your case.
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