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United States District Court for the District of Maryland
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Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland


Unlike common law, Maryland criminal statutes consider “assault” to include the crimes of assault, battery, and assault and battery. Assault is the attempted touching of a person without his or her consent, including under those circumstances where the person feels fearful that a touching will occur. Battery is the actual, offensive touching of another person without his or her consent. Maryland also recognizes felony assault, which includes an assault with intent to kill or assault with intent to rape.

Assault is Charged According to Varying Levels of Severity

Assault charges in Maryland can lead to harsh penalties of up to 25 years in prison if you are convicted, making it imperative to contact a criminal defense attorney once you are aware you are being investigated or charged. There are degrees of severity in the charges and corresponding degrees of punishment. Maryland statutes allow you to be charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault, second-degree assault on a police officer, reckless endangerment, and poisoning.

In Maryland, first degree assault is a felony punishable by up to 25 years of incarceration. First degree assault encompasses the act of deliberately causing someone to experience severe physical injury, trying to cause severe physical injury to someone, or executing an assault with a firearm. Serious physical injury under the assault statutes is the type of injury that carries a substantial risk of death or that disfigures or that causes someone to lose a limb or organ, or that impairs the limbs or organs.

Maryland refers to what is “simple assault” under common law as “second degree assault.” A second degree assault is a misdemeanor that occurs when someone causes or attempts to cause an offensive physical contact. Second degree assault convictions carry heavy penalties, too: in the event of a conviction, you can be punished with up to 10 years of incarceration. A second degree assault on a law enforcement officer carries the same penalty, but is classified as a felony.

Reckless endangerment is a misdemeanor in Maryland. Reckless endangerment means engaging in conduct that carries a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury, or discharging a firearm from a car such that it creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury. A reckless endangerment conviction carries a five-year maximum period of jail time. Poisoning someone is also considered an assault and a conviction leads to a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Common Causes & Defenses

Assaults frequently arise from fights. The person who starts the fight is often the person who is charged with assault. Although the Maryland statutes treat battery as a component of assault, the statutes follow common law when it comes to the law of self-defense against a battery. Specifically, if a defendant injures another because he apprehends himself as the object of immediate danger from that other person, he cannot be held responsible for assault. However, the person who claims he acted in self-defense must not have used more force than what was proportionate to respond to the imminent danger. In order to raise the defense, the defendant must show that a person of average prudence would have done the same thing under the circumstances.

Assault charges in Maryland are serious and have significant legal consequences. The defense strategy that is appropriate for you depends on the facts or circumstances of your particular case. Therefore, we recommend that you contact an experienced Maryland Assault Attorney at the office of Anthony Fatemi LLC as soon as you realize you or a loved one is suspected of assault. Call us at (301) 519-2801, or submit our online contact form today.

Maryland Criminal & Immigration Lawyer Blog - Assault
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