Elements of a Columbia Assault Charge
An assault in Maryland is defined in one of two ways, both of which independently qualify as assault. The first of these is harmful, offensive, or unconsented-to contact. The second is putting somebody in fear of an unconsented-to, harmful, or offensive contact.
Being faced with these charges can be daunting, and the process of navigating them can be complex and oftentimes confusing. Because of this, it is best to retain the services of an attorney in dealing with Columbia assault charges.
Degrees of Assault
There are only two kinds of assault. There is second-degree assault and first-degree assault. Second-degree assault is defined as a harmful or offensive unconsented contact or putting somebody in reasonable apprehension of a harmful or offensive unconsented contact. A first-degree assault is a second-degree assault with one additional element, which can be broken down into two different varieties.
The first is determined by whether, as in the second-degree assault, a person utilized or brandished a dangerous or deadly weapon that could cause someone serious bodily injury. Examples of potential weapons include:
- A knife
- A bat
- A Gun
- A pair of scissors
The second variety does not require a weapon at all but it is a second-degree assault that has resulted in significant bodily injury. Consider the following scenario: Two people get into a fight, one person is bigger and stronger and severely injures the other person. That would be considered a first-degree assault in a court of law, even if there was no weapon involved and the parties only used their fists. In this case, and others where there is no weapon but there is bodily harm inflicted, examples of severe injuries include:
- Broken jaw
- Knocked out teeth
- Broken nose
- Ruptured eye sockets
- Dislocated shoulder
The penalties for assault are straightforward, as they largely depend on the degree of assault which is determined in each case by the court. Assault in the first degree carries up to 25 years of incarceration, and a second-degree assault carries up to 10 years of incarceration and/or a $2,500 fine.
How an Attorney Can Help
An attorney with extensive experience in dealing with assault charges and cases can have represented individuals charged with these types of offenses before. As a result, the lawyer can know the necessary elements to prove, as well as how to best cross-examine the witnesses, what can and cannot be admitted as evidence, and what can or cannot be argued in court.
Your attorney can also have the benefit of having already built relationships with the various prosecutors, and will have established relationships with judges as well. Thanks to all of these benefits, they can be an excellent ally to have by your side should you find yourself charged with assault. They can guide you through the process, as well as advise you on which course of action is the best at each step of the way. To do all of this without an attorney can be complex and at times confusing. A lawyer can help you achieve the best results possible.