Assault and Battery Attorney in Rockville, MD
Maryland is one of several states that defines assault and battery separately as well as imposes punishment based on the degree of the offense. For legal purposes, the definition of first-degree assault in Maryland is one person committing physical injury to another or threatening to do so. Second-degree assault involves actual or threatened offensive physical contact.
When determining if an accused person’s conduct meets the standard of offensive physical contact, criminal law judges consider whether a person of reasonable health and intelligence would find it as such. Serious personal injury is anything that results in an increased risk of death of the victim or permanent loss or impairment of an organ or body part. Disfigurement also falls under the umbrella of first-degree assault.
Battery entails making physical contact with another person that he or she does not want. It also includes attempted battery or making someone believe that another person could commit battery against them. For a person to receive a legal charge of assault or battery, his or her conduct must meet the definition of intentional, reckless, or both. Intentional means that the accused fully intended to cause bodily harm or initiate offensive contact.
A reckless act is one in which the accused acted in a manner that deliberately ignored the safety of others while not necessarily intending to cause another person harm. A good example of reckless behavior is throwing a baseball to a friend in a crowded bar and accidentally hitting another customer in the head. The charge steps up to assault when one person deliberately attempts to frighten another, even if he or she doesn’t follow through with the threatened action. For example, lunging at another person and making verbal threats could easily earn a person a charge of second-degree assault.
Penalties for Assault in Maryland
A person may face the most serious category of assault charges if found to have committed one or more of these acts:
- Using a firearm to commit an assault
- Attempting to cause significant and permanent injuries to another person
- Actually causing significant and permanent injuries to another person
The type of injuries covered under first-degree assault charges cause either permanent damage or the risk of death due to their severity. Examples include a husband who caused lasting brain damage by slamming his wife’s head into a wall repeatedly or a gang member who beat a rival gang member so severely that the victim required a wheelchair from that point forward.
A first-degree assault charge in Maryland is a felony that comes with a long prison sentence. A conviction of a first offense will mean several years in prison while a second offense comes with a mandatory 10-year prison sentence. At 25 years, the sentence more than doubles for a third offense. Anyone convicted of first-degree assault four times will automatically spend the remainder of his or her life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Maryland considers second-degree assault a misdemeanor, but that doesn’t mean it lets perpetrators off easily. This conviction comes with a fine of up to $2,500 and up to 10 years in jail or prison. However, the penalties increase to a fine of up to $5,000 and the charge converts from a misdemeanor to a felony if the accused committed the assault against any of the following:
- Police officer
- Parole agent
- Correctional officer
- Emergency medical technician
- Rescue squad member
- Any other type of first responder
The felony charge generally means spending at least 10 years in prison.
Reckless Endangerment and/or Reckless Discharge of a Firearm
The crime of reckless endangerment also comes under the category of assault in Maryland. Use of the term reckless underscores the fact that the act need not be intentional to cause harm or for the accused person to face punishment for it. The fact that someone didn’t intend to cause harm doesn’t change that he or she did nothing to prevent it from happening. State sentencing guidelines call for a jail or prison sentence of up to five years. The person charged with reckless endangerment may need to make financial restitution to the victim, pay a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Someone who already resides as an inmate at a local or state correctional facility may face a misdemeanor charge if he or she causes any employee of the facility to intentionally have contact with bodily fluids. These include urine, feces, semen, vomit, or blood. The incident doesn’t necessarily mean that physical contact occurred between the inmate and an employee of the facility.
It’s also a misdemeanor for anyone other than a security guard engaged in professional duties, a police officer, or a person defending themselves from harm to discharge any type of firearm from a vehicle if it creates the risk of death or serious injury to others.
Assault Charges and Plea Bargaining
Defense attorneys in Maryland, including Jonathan Fellner, Attorney at Law, can attempt to reduce the charges by advising their client to plead to a lesser charge. For example, a person with no criminal history charged with second-degree assault may be able to plead reckless endangerment and take the reduced sentence that comes along with that charge. However, this hinges strongly on the willingness of the prosecution to accept such a plea. Mr. Fellner has many years of experience arguing for reduced sentences for his clients or even for the prosecution to drop the charges altogether.
Request Your Free Criminal Defense Case Review
Mr. Fellner understands that this is an anxious and uncertain time in your life if you have been charged with assault or another crime that falls under the general umbrella of assault. Please contact the office of Jonathan Fellner, Attorney at Law, at 301-309-2000 or complete an online form to request your free consultation. After learning more about the charges against you, he will let you know whether you make a good candidate to argue for lesser charges as well as the specific legal techniques he would use to accomplish this. With your very freedom on the line, you can’t afford to go without experienced representation for much longer.