Washington County Assault Lawyer
Maryland law addresses a variety of assault offenses that bring a variety of penalties based on the nature and circumstances surrounding the allegation. When you are charged with any form of assault, you need sound legal advice from a seasoned Washington County assault lawyer in order to mount an effective defense. Time is of the essence because, the punishments notwithstanding, a conviction can hobble your life for many years. Assault can be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor.
Types of Assault in Washington County
Following are the charges and penalties:
First-Degree Assault – Two statutes apply to this offense [Maryland Annotated Code Section 3-202]. One surrounds causing, or threatening to cause, “serious physical injury” to the victim. The other pertains to assault (or attempted assault) with a firearm (any working firearm). Waving a gun in a “menacing fashion” can produce a first-degree conviction. Conviction for first-degree assault can bring a prison sentence as high as 25 years [Section 3-202(b)]. The term can be longer if other felonies are present.
Second-Degree Assault – This involves lesser versions of the crime and can be more complicated to sort out without the help of a seasoned Washington County assault lawyer. The offense is defined as “causing any type of physical injury, or impairment” to the victim. The differences between this charge and first degree assault are the absence of serious victim injury and the suspect not using a weapon [Section 3-203]. It is usually charged as a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and/or up to ten years in prison.
Suspects can be convicted of second-degree assault if either (or both) 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 be interpreted by the victim as attempted second-degree assault.
- The suspect’s actions caused “harmful or offensive contact” with the victim, without their consent. This offense can also be quite subjective and open to interpretation.
One second-degree assault is a felony if the suspect “intentionally” injures an on-duty law enforcement officer, a probation or parole agent performing official duties, or a judge. The perpetrator must be aware the victim was a “qualifying law official” at the time of the offense. If convicted of felony second-degree assault, the prison sentence is up to 10 years and a maximum fine is $5,000 [Section 3-203(2)(i)].
Reckless Endangerment –broadly defined as committing any act that puts another person at risk or serious injury or death and is considered to be a misdemeanor and one that is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to five years in prison. [Section 3-204].
Domestic Assault can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor against any family member (including rape or other sex crimes if applicable). The victim will likely take out a protective order against the suspect almost immediately [Maryland Annotated Family Code Section 4-504]. This means anyone charged with domestic assault needs to mount a defense in both Maryland criminal and family courts. So, a Washington County assault lawyer with experience in defending allegations of domestic violence is certainly needed. If the victim later recants the allegation, it is exclusively up to the prosecutor whether or not to drop the charge.
Stalking [Section 3-802] can be committed physically or via telephone, text, or e-mail, where the victim “reasonably fears for their life and/or safety” in any of the following forms:
- Serious bodily injury by being assaulted
- Possible rape or some other sexual assault
- False imprisonment
- Possibly being killed
Stalking penalties can be up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $5,000. But if any felony assault was committed as the victim was being stalked, the penalty usually serves as an enhancement that adds prison time to the sentence for the assault.
Harassment [Section 3-803] is charged when the suspect engages in malicious conduct that “seriously alarms or annoys” the victim, but in order to be charged, the perpetrator must be “reasonably warned” to cease their behavior. Usually, a reliable third-party witness must be present when this warning is given.
Harassment is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. 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)].
It can also occur by using the telephone or the Internet (for example, e-mail or social media) [Sections 3-804 & 3-805]. Harassment penalties range from one to three years 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)].
Hiring a Washington County Assault Lawyer
If you have been charged with assault in Washington County, Maryland, retaining a seasoned criminal defense attorney should be a top priority. Your Washington County assault lawyer can advocate for you in your time of need and use years of litigation experience to strive for a beneficial outcome to your case. Call our team now to schedule your free initial consultation.