Some of the most common examples of cases that go before criminal courts are those that allege assault. Contrary to popular belief, a person does not need to make physical contact with another to face these allegations. Instead, state law defines assault as an attempt to cause violent harm to another. With this concept in mind, it can be difficult to defend oneself against these allegations. Prosecutors may come forward with evidence of alleged threats or violent acts. Working with an attorney who understands the law and is prepared to protect your rights is vital.
An Upper Marlboro assault lawyer could provide this help. They could evaluate the prosecutor’s case, explain the concept of assault under state law, listen to your side of the story, and work towards an outcome that meets your goals. A skilled defense attorney is ready to fight for you.
Legal Definition of Assault
The concept of assault under state law is straightforward. A person commits an assault when they act in a way that causes another to fear for their safety or well-being. However, not just any behavior that causes another to be scared can result in an assault charge.
A key concept in any assault case is the idea of intent. In short, a prosecutor must prove a person acted in a way with the intent to cause another to be in fear. For instance, a person that uses threatening language when talking to another and then swings and misses likely commits an assault. By contrast, the same arm motion a person makes while dancing cannot instill the fear necessary to make an assault accusation.
State law uses a pair of statutes to describe assault allegations. Maryland Criminal Law § 3-203 describes assaults in the second degree as involving common assaults. A conviction can bring a prison sentence of up to ten years, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. Maryland Criminal Law § 3-202 creates the offense of assault as a felony of the first degree. When a person uses a firearm to cause another to fear harm or when an assault results in serious physical injury, the maximum penalty can extend to as much as 25 years in prison.
A charge will be a first-degree assault when the alleged victim sustained serious or life-threatening injuries. In some cases, no physical harm is necessary if a person uses a handgun. For example, pointing a gun at someone’s face could warrant a first-degree assault charge.
Second-degree assault is any assault that does not fall into the category of first-degree assault. There are three categories of second-degree assault that range from intentionally frightening a person without touching them to stabbing a person.
- Intent to Frighten: Intentionally threatening physical harm to another. An example could be pulling out a pocket knife in the proximity of another person and threatening to use the knife.
- Attempted Battery: Intentionally trying to commit an offensive touching to another. For example, swinging a fist at someone’s face but missing.
- Intentional Battery: Intentionally making offensive contact with another without their consent. An example would be smacking someone in the face unprovoked.
An Upper Marlboro attorney could provide full information about a person’s specific assault charge and what a prosecutor needs to prove in court.
Assault Against Law Enforcement
Assault against law enforcement differs from assault against other individuals. Law enforcement personnel includes police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, and any other first responders. Assault against law enforcement requires physical injury to the personnel or first responder. Without physical injury, the State cannot pursue assault under this theory. In addition, the offender must know the person was law enforcement personnel. For example, the State likely cannot pursue assault on an officer if the officer was undercover or plainclothes because it was not apparent they were an officer. A conviction for assault of law enforcement personnel is a felony and carries a 10-year maximum penalty.
Contact an Upper Marlboro Assault Attorney Today
Allegations involving assault may seem like minor issues. However, a conviction for even a misdemeanor-level offense will create a criminal record, force you to pay a fine, or require you to spend time in jail. More serious examples of assault are felonies, where convictions can result in longer prison sentences.
Let an Upper Marlboro assault lawyer help you avoid these unfortunate outcomes. We will examine your case on an individual basis to evaluate the evidence, determine the best strategy for defense, and help protect your legal rights. Call today to get started.