Many states distinguish assault and battery as two different crimes, but some states do not; Maryland is one such state that does not distinguish the crime of battery from the crime of assault. The main difference between a battery charge and an assault charge is the actual presence of harm and the threat of harm. In states that differentiate between the charge of battery and the charge of assault, someone can only be charged with battery if they have caused real physical harm to someone, while a person can be charged with assault if the mere threat of harm is present. In Maryland, assault and battery charges are serious and will be classified as first or second degree based on the facts of the charge.
First Degree Assault in Maryland
In Maryland, first-degree assault is a felony defined as follows: “First degree assault is a crime where the state alleges the defendant intentionally or attempted to cause serious physical injury to another person.” Any assault that uses a firearm is assault in the first degree. If you’ve been charged with first-degree assault, you will need a lawyer as these crimes are serious and they’re complicated. In most assault cases, there’s a reason why someone assaulted someone else—usually in self-defense or in defense of others.
A good criminal defense lawyer will analyze the facts of your case and provide you the best defense possible. The end goal for all defendants in assault cases is to get the charge dropped or assigned the least severe penalties like fines and probation. If dropping of the charge is not possible, your lawyer will work hard to prove your assault was NOT an unprovoked random act of violence.
The maximum penalty for first-degree assault varies from state but in Maryland, for this felony, a conviction may result in twenty-five years of incarceration. Because assault in the first degree is a felony in Maryland, there is no statute of limitations, which means the State may charge you at any time for the crime.
Second Degree Assault in Maryland
A lessor degree of assault, second degree, is still a felony in the state of Maryland if and only if the assault was committed against a law enforcement officer; second degree assault committed against anyone else is a misdemeanor and is defined as the unlawful touching of another person, hitting, or attempted touching or hitting of another person. If convicted of second-degree assault in Maryland, the maximum penalty is ten years incarceration. Even without a prior criminal record, you can serve jail time for second-degree assault, but all cases are different. Your lawyer will present your best defense, and the judge or jury will decide your punishment if you are convicted.
The statute of limitations for second degree assault is one year because it’s a misdemeanor. However, when the victim of the assault is a law enforcement officer, the assault is considered a felony and has no statute of limitations.
If you’ve been charged with first- or second-degree assault, you need a criminal defense lawyer on your side; you simply cannot defend yourself against such serious charges. As Abraham Lincoln said, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”