First and Second Degree Assault in Maryland
Any unauthorized or unwanted touching of an individual is an assault in Maryland. So that can be just slapping somebody’s hand, punching somebody, or it can be threatening somebody with a weapon or hurting somebody with a weapon, all of those things would be considered assault.
A lot of states will distinguish assault and battery from assault but Maryland is not one of those states. Maryland will charge all of those as assault. If you are facing either of these types of assault it is important you contact a Maryland assault lawyer as soon as possible, they can begin building your defense.
Degrees of Assault in Maryland
Maryland breaks assault into first degree assault and second degree assault. A second degree assault is generally a misdemeanor, and first degree assault is generally a felony.
A first-degree assault separates itself in a couple of ways from a second degree assault. First degree assault can be an assault on a police officer when the officer is conducting their duties. So if you punch your friend that’s usually a second degree assault, but if you punch a police officer who’s trying to arrest you, that’s usually going to be charged as first degree assault.
Then, additionally weapons will bring second degree assault up to a first degree assault, so assaulting somebody with a fist is very different from assaulting them with a gun or a knife.
Finally, there is the level of bodily harm that an individual experiences. For example if the proverbial 98 lb. weakling punches somebody then that’s not going to create a risk of serious bodily harm, but if the defendant is a mixed martial arts fighter, that could turn a second degree assault into a first degree assault based on the severity of the harm inflicted.
Penalties for Second Degree Assault
A maximum penalty for second degree assault in Maryland is ten years and a $2,500 fine.
So again, as most criminal cases in Maryland, it’s very rare for any kind for a first offender to receive anything approaching the maximum sentence. So, I’ve never seen a first offense assault get ten years in my time doing this kind of law.
Penalties for First Degree Assault
For first degree assault, it could be up to twenty five years. It’s a much more serious crime, so the courts want to punish use of weapons or assault of an officer more severely than they do typical second degree assault. So that’s the difference between them, ten years for the second and the twenty five years for the first.
What Elements Do Maryland Prosecutors Need to Prove in Second Degree Assault Cases?
In second degree assault cases, prosecutors need to prove that there was a serious threat or intimidation or violence or unwanted touching. They need to show that in an objective way, meaning that a reasonable person would look at those actions and perceive a threat or intimidation or violence.
It’s not a subjective standard and prosecutors can’t prevail by showing someone was intimidated even though a reasonable person wouldn’t have been.
Prosecution needs to show that a reasonable person with that same circumstance would have experienced the threat or intimidation.
What Must Be Proved for a First Degree Assault Conviction in Maryland?
The elements are largely the same, but there’s the additional element of having to prove that the victim was an officer or prove that a weapon was used or prove serious bodily harm. There’s that additional element that the state has to prove to turn a second degree assault into a first degree assault.