Howard County Assault Attorney
Convictions under Maryland’s assault laws can have a ripple effect on your life for many years. That’s why if you are accused of assault, your case can benefit from the immediate attention of an experienced Howard County assault lawyer.
Advantages of a Howard County Assault Lawyer
Maryland assault charges are very serious, whether in the first or second degree. There are many benefits of having a Howard County assault attorney you trust representing you in court. Your assault lawyer will be able to advise you on whether to speak to the authorities about what happened. An aggressive attorney will thoroughly review the prosecution’s case and identify the weaknesses in the case against you. In every case, there are multiple sides to the story, and your attorney will work to explain your story to the court in a way that protects your best interests.
Types of Assault
Assault can be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor. They include the following charges (and penalties):
First-Degree Assault – There are two types of first-degree assault [Maryland Annotated Code Section 3-202]. One surrounds causing, or threatening to cause, “serious physical injury” on the victim. The other pertains to assault (or attempted assault) with a firearm, which is defined as “any working firearm.” Waving a gun in a “menacing fashion” can produce a conviction. Penalties for first-degree assault involve a prison sentence as high as 25 years [Section 3-202(b)].
Second-Degree Assault (or Simple Assault)– The statutes cover many lesser versions and can be more complicated to sort out without the help of a seasoned Howard County assault lawyer. This crime is viewed as “causing any type of physical injury, or impairment” to the victim. The primary separator between first- and second-degree assault is the absence of serious harm (or death) and lack of use of a weapon [Section 3-203].
Second Degree Assault Charges in Howard County
Suspects can be convicted of second-degree assault if at least one of the following is present:
- The assault was intentional, or the actions of the suspect created a true fear of imminent harm or offensive contact in the victim. Offensive contact can be viewed as anything from striking a blow to grabbing the victim. A lot of “aggressive” actions can qualify as real or attempted second-degree assault.
- The suspect’s actions caused “harmful or offensive contact” with the victim, without their consent. This offense can be quite subjective and open to interpretation, depending on several factors.
Because of the subjectivity of many second-degree assault offenses and complaints, this crime is a misdemeanor. But since the nature of a second-degree assault can be minor or much more serious, the sentence can vary from a few days in jail to 10 years in prison. A fine might also be assessed, but only if serious circumstances surround the assault will it be the maximum amount ($2,500) [Section 3-203(b)].
There is one second-degree assault that is considered a felony. This occurs when the suspect “intentionally” injures a person who is an on-duty law enforcement officer or probation/parole agent performing official duties. But it must be proven that the perpetrator knew, or should have known, that the victim was a law enforcement official who was performing his or her duties at the time of the offense. If convicted of this felony second-degree assault, the prison sentence and fine will certainly be close to the maximums [Section 3-203(2)(i)].
Stalking and Other Assault-Related Offenses
Stalking [Section 3-802], either physically or via telephone, text, or e-mail which causes the victim to “reasonably fear for their life and/or safety,” is a misdemeanor. It must place the victim in true fear of any (or all) of the following:
- Serious bodily injury by being assaulted (either in the first- or second-degree)
- Possible rape
- That they could be falsely imprisoned (this charge does not apply to law enforcement officials who are performing their normal duties)
- Possibly being killed
Penalties for stalking can be up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $5,000. But if any of the offenses outlined above were committed at the time the victim was stalked, this penalty will serve as an enhancement that adds prison time to whatever sentence was handed down for that offense (up to that offense’s maximum).
Harassment [Section 3-803] is charged when the suspect engages in malicious conduct that is like, but not classified as, stalking. In order to be convicted, the victim must be followed in public by the suspect that “seriously alarms or annoys” the victim. However, the suspect cannot be charged with this offense until he or she has been “reasonably warned” to cease their behavior.
Harassment is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. But a second (or subsequent) conviction brings a penalty up to six months in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000 [Section 3-803(b) & (c)(1)].
Harassment can also occur by using the telephone or via “electronic communications” (for example, e-mail or social media) [Sections 3-804 & 3-805]. It has its own penalties that range from one to three years in prison and/or up to a $500 fine for using a telephone [Section 3-804(b)], and up to a year in jail and a $500 fine for the misuse of electronic communications [Section 3-805(e)].
How a Howard County Assault Lawyer Can Help
If you are facing assault charges and you are unsure what to do or how to prepare for legal proceedings, contact our office to speak to an assault attorney in Howard County.