Maryland Simple Assault Attorney
Although less serious than first-degree assault, second-degree assault charges in the state of Maryland are serious and can have very severe consequences, potentially altering your life forever. Having experienced legal counsel by your side from the moment you are charged with second-degree or simple assault is imperative if you want to minimize the consequences of your charges to the extent possible. Attorney Scott MacMullan will fight for your rights and your freedom from the moment he takes your case. Scott believes in fighting for the individuals whose rights could be in jeopardy as a result of our current justice system, believing strongly that he can truly make a difference in the lives of ordinary people who may have made a regrettable mistake.
What is the Difference Between First and Second-Degree Assault in Maryland?
The primary difference between first-degree assault and second-degree assault in the state of Maryland is that first-degree assault is a felony offense with up to 25 years in prison as a potential penalty, while second-degree assault is a misdemeanor offense. First-degree assault is charged when there is an attempt to cause actual, serious, physical injury, or when actual, serious, physical injury is caused through the use of physical contact or the use of a weapon. Even brandishing a weapon—whether you intended to use it or not—can turn second-degree assault charges into first-degree assault charges. However, despite the fact that second-degree assault is a misdemeanor and is considered an attempt to cause offensive physical contact, the maximum penalty is ten years in prison—a very long time.
How is Simple Assault Defined?
Although some states separate the crimes of assault and battery—with assault meaning to place a person in reasonable fear of bodily harm, and battery being the unlawful touching of another person without his or her consent—in the state of Maryland, the two are combined. Simple assault falls under the classification of second-degree assault in the state of Maryland. To obtain a conviction for second-degree or simple assault, the prosecutor must show that the defendant caused some level of physical injury to another person, placing the person in fear of bodily harm. To be clear, however, something as minor as a scratch or a small bruise could qualify as an “injury” under the second-degree/simple assault laws of the state of Maryland.
Further, the “placing an individual in fear of bodily harm” element does not require that the alleged victim be placed in an extreme level of fear, only that the potential fear is imminent, or the alleged victim believes harm is likely to occur in the immediate future. This means that in the event two neighbors were arguing over a property line and one lightly poked the other in the chest to make a point while saying “If you park your car on my property again, you’ll be sorry,” the action and statement could potentially rise to the level of simple assault.
What are the Penalties for Second-Degree/Simple Assault?
Although second-degree or simple assault is usually a misdemeanor in the state of Maryland, there are instances where second-degree assault could be charged as a felony offense when the victim is a police officer or civil servant. If the second-degree assault is bumped up to a felony, the penalties are likely to be much more severe, plus you will have to deal with a felony conviction on your record for decades to come. If your second-degree or simple assault charges are considered a misdemeanor, you could nonetheless be sentenced to up to ten years in prison and a fine as large as $2,500. If a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, transit police, probation officer, or other civil servant is intentionally injured, the second-degree/simple assault could be charged as a felony, with penalties of up to ten years in jail and a fine as large as $5,000.
What are Common Defenses for Second-Degree/Simple Assault?
Charges for second-degree/simple assault frequently arise from a fight, with the person who started the fight often being the one charged with assault. Other times, when a brawl breaks out, law enforcement officials were likely not present to see who started the fight, so they simply charge all those involved with assault. Maryland statutes follow common law when you defend yourself against battery from another person. This means that if you injure another person whom you believed you were in immediate danger from, you cannot be liable for the resulting injuries and charged with assault.
One caveat to this law is that you must not have used more force than was necessary when responding to the imminent danger. If you acted in self-defense, your attorney must show that a reasonable person, facing the same set of circumstances would have done the same thing as you. While your defense will depend on the exact circumstances surrounding your charges, there are other potential defenses to your charges of assault as well.
The legality of the evidence may be challenged, you could claim self-defense for yourself or others or even self-defense of your property. In rare cases, consent may be used as a defense to an assault charge; this means the alleged victim voluntarily consented to a particular act. This might apply in cases of “streetfighting” or “mutual combat,” in which individuals voluntarily agree to fight one another. Your Maryland criminal defense attorney will determine the right defense in your case or may discuss a plea deal with you in which you plead guilty, but the penalties are greatly reduced.
How Can an Experienced Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney Help?
An assault case can be fairly time-sensitive, as usually when a person has been grabbed or hit, they will have bruises to prove the assault. If you are being charged with second-degree assault in Maryland, but you were actually defending yourself or another person, it is important that you have another person take photographs of any marks on your person, which can back up your claim of self-defense.
It is equally important that you not discuss your charges with anyone—and never post on social media about the incident—until you have spoken to Attorney Scott MacMullan. Scott will thoroughly investigate the evidence and “facts” against you, tirelessly searching for anything which will mitigate your liability for the incident. Contact Scott MacMullan Law, LLC today for the help you need during this difficult time by calling (443) 494-9775.