Columbia Assault Lawyer
Assault charges are taken very seriously in Maryland. Even a misdemeanor second-degree assault carries up to 10 years’ incarceration and a first-degree assault charge can carry more than double that. With these severe penalties in mind, having an attorney by your side can help establish the facts and mitigate the damage. A Columbia assault lawyer can investigate whether the prosecutor has the evidence necessary to move forward, and will determine how best to fight the case so as to help you avoid being convicted of a crime of violence.
Assault charges can be intimidating for a number of reasons. First, they are violent charges that carry a social stigma. Second, they can arise unexpectedly and even when no physical contact is involved. And third, because they can result in serious penalties and a criminal record. Technically speaking, physical contact does not need to have occurred in order for an assault to have taken place. In those cases, prosecutors rarely bring charges or pursue them to the fullest extent.
Second-degree assault carries up to 10 years’ incarceration, even though it is a misdemeanor. If someone gets caught stealing under $100, the penalty is three months’ maximum incarceration. A second-degree assault is 10 years. In addition, if someone is convicted of a second-degree assault, it is a crime of violence and that person will now have a criminal record. Because of that record, they will be precluded from possessing or even holding a firearm. There will be other restrictions on what someone can and cannot do, when and where they can go. All of this stems from having a conviction, even if there is no jail time served, which is why it is so important to consult with an assault lawyer in Columbia to build a strong defense right away.
There are two ways in which the police can become involved in situations where an altercation takes place. One is when they actually see it, whether they see two people in an altercation or because they had seen something going on. They could have been working at secondary employment like private security, and while so employed may see a fight break out. Then, they are eye witnesses and can immediately arrest individuals involved and they absolutely take it very seriously.
The other way is when the police are called because of an allegation that assault occurred. To illustrate, consider the following scenario: police are called; they come to the scene; they approach someone who says they are a victim and that a person hit them, but the accused is not present. Now, in those situations, the police are not eye-witnesses. They can only take the word of the accusing party at face value. Generally speaking, although this is not always true, they also consider whether there is any evidence of force. Examples of force include a broken nose, scrapes, cuts, redness, or swelling. If these exist, often police will arrest the other individual.
If there is no evidence, then they will not arrest the accused party, but inform the one making the claim that, if so desired, they are free to file legal charges. If the charges are filed, the police will give a summary of their involvement in the event, go to court, and a will hear both sides of the case. Overall, that is the big difference of whether there is evidence of physical contact, even if physical contact is alleged. However, whichever way an arrest occurs it is important to consult with a Columbia assault attorney to protect your rights and begin building a defense.
Building A Defense
A Columbia lawyer will gather all of the evidence. This includes but is not limited to:
- Charging documents or reports
- Medical records
- Video surveillance
- 911 calls
An experienced attorney will make sure to talk with any eyewitnesses that could have been there, and make time to speak with the plaintiff, which the defendant cannot. Talking to anybody and getting everything is absolutely essential.
Keep in mind, an eyewitness’ testimony oftentimes can be flawed because people do not always see what they think they see. Another thing to consider is any possible motives of the individual who is testifying. For instance, the plaintiff’s best friend is likely going to be inclined to do whatever they can to help their friend. On the other hand, if the eyewitness is an objective third part, perhaps a restaurant owner that just happened to walk by or a bystander that has no prior history with either the plaintiff or the defendant, that person will be seen as a lot more credible.
Another thing to consider is, there are a lot of defenses available. One of those is self-defense. Sometimes, a person will be charged not because they initiated the assault, but because they won the fight that somebody else started with them. In these cases, the defendant simply ended up getting the upper hand and is now being charged by the instigator.