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Understanding Maryland’s Unique Assault Laws


Assault and battery are two terms that are often used interchangeably. This is often because assault comes first and is then sometimes followed by battery. Assault refers to the threat of violence, not the actual violence itself. Battery refers to offensive physical contact or bodily harm. Battery does not necessarily have to cause harm, so even something like spitting on someone can constitute battery. So can groping someone.

Battery consists of three elements: an act by a person, an intent to cause offensive or harmful contact and the actual contact to the victim. 

How Maryland is Different 

While many states differentiate between assault and battery, Maryland does not. A threat of violence and the actual physical act of violence are both considered assault under Maryland law.

Offensive physical contact is considered second-degree assault, which can result in 10 years in prison and a fine of $5,000. When the assault involves a firearm or leads to serious injury or death, it becomes first-degree assault. This is punishable by 25 years in prison.

Criminal Assault vs. Civil Assault

Technically, assault can be both a crime and a civil offense. It can also be solely a crime. For example, if someone shot you with a firearm and caused a head injury, the person would be charged with first-degree assault and you could also sue for damages such as medical bills and pain and suffering. If someone punched you hard and caused a bruise, you could press charges, but if all you suffered was a bruise, there’s not much you could sue for in terms of damages. It would not be worth it financially to file a lawsuit.

Possible Defenses for Assault

If you have been accused of assault, there are several defenses you can use. Contact a criminal defense lawyer who can assess your case and help you find the right defense. Some common defenses include:

  • Lack of criminal intent. You cannot be convicted if the act was done accidentally.
  • Self-defense. If you hit someone only because they hit you first, you may have a good defense.
  • Someone may have forced or coerced you to commit the act.
  • False accounts. Sometimes people misinterpret the facts or even purposely lie to get others in trouble.
  • If you were somewhere else at the time of the incident, you could get the charges dropped.

Contact a Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Today 

Assault comes with serious penalties. A person can spend a decade in prison for a typical assault charge. It is important to have a solid defense so you can reduce your penalties.

A simple threat can result in assault charges. Protect your legal rights with help from the Columbia assault lawyers at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. The possible punishment can affect your life for a long time, so our lawyer will do what it takes to mitigate the penalties We have two offices in Maryland to serve you. Schedule a consultation today by filling out the online form or calling (410) 774-5987.

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