By Price Benowitz Staff Writer
On May 11, 2014 TMZ released video footage of Solange Knowles attacking Jay Z in an elevator as Beyonce looks on and a security guard intervenes. The trio were leaving a Met Gala after party at the Boom Boom Room. The footage is from an elevator security camera.
On the elevator, it appears (there is no audio) that Solange is shouting or speaking angrily to Jay Z. Within the first ten seconds, Solange begins to swing and kick at Jay Z. For the remainder of the elevator ride Solange is restrained by a security guard. And although Jay Z does grab Solange’s foot when she kicks at him later, he never attempts to strike her.
At one point, Solange swings her purse at Jay Z and its contents spill across the elevator floor.
After the elevator finally stops and they all get off, Beyonce and Solange leave the venue in one car and Jay Z leaves in another vehicle.
There is no way to know exactly what started this confrontation (though some on Twitter suggest it was fueled by Game of Thrones spoilers). Furthermore, it is not important what words or previous actions caused the attack- at least not according to Maryland state law. The whole Jay Z – Solange confrontation took place in New York, but we will analyze the facts under the assumption that Maryland law applies.
In Maryland, assault in the first degree (Section 3-202) is a serious charge that can be punished by up to 25 years in prison. There are, however, several requirements for a guilty verdict. First, assault in the first degree encompasses any time a person intentionally causes serious physical injury to another person. Here, serious physical injury is defined as an injury that either puts the victim at “substantial risk of death” or causes permanent disfigurement or impaired function of a body part. See Section 3-201.
From the elevator video, it seems as though Jay Z did not sustain any permanent disfigurement or life-threatening injuries. But assault in the first degree does not end there. It also encompasses when an individual “attempts” to cause the kinds of injuries listed above. Although the attack was carried out “ferociously” in the words of TMZ, it appears to fall far short of the evidence needed to show real intent to maim or possibly kill.
Lastly, assault in the first degree encompasses all assault committed with a firearm (of any kind). Section 3-202. The only way that would be remotely appropriate for this elevator incident would be if Solange’s purse had a firearm in it when she hit Jay Z with her purse. Even then, such a charge is very unlikely.
This is much more likely to be a case of assault in the second degree. Second degree assault can be a misdemeanor or a felony, turning on whether the assault was committed against a police officer or other official. That is not the situation here (unless Jay Z has secretly been an undercover police officer all along). Even if the security guard is an off-duty officer, it doesn’t seem as though Solange assaulted him. If anything, she was quite good at getting around the restraint altogether when she delivered the kick to Jay Z.
Thus, the elevator video seems to show what some might construe as a second degree assault under Maryland law. See Section 2-303. It constitutes a situation where the alleged assailant (1) intentionally acted to create an apprehension of immediate harmful or offensive contact in the alleged victim’s mind. Also, it was (2) intentional harmful or offensive contact with the victim, without the victim’s consent. Well, I must admit I am assuming it was without Jay Z’s consent because of his reaction. Then again, before the end of the video, Jay Z stays in the elevator alone with Solange before she hits him for the final time. Maybe there’s an argument he consented there.
Misdemeanor second degree assault, in Maryland, is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a $2,500 fine, or both. Section 3-203.
It seems doubtful, however, that Jay Z will press charges. And even if he did, it wouldn’t be in Maryland courts under Maryland law.
If you have been charged with assault in Maryland, contact Seth Okin Attorney at Law. Mr. Okin can provide a thorough assessment of the facts of your case and help outline strongest possible criminal defense strategy. Call Mr. Okin at (410) 782-0742 to schedule a free consultation today.