Unlike some states, the crime of battery does not exist in Maryland. Instead, the state has a variety of assault charges to cover different circumstances.
Understanding the difference between the charges is crucial if accused of assault. Prosecutors may try to increase the charge against you to pressure you into accepting a plea deal.
Assaults can be misdemeanors or felonies
Felonies carry more significant consequences than misdemeanors:
- Second-degree assault is a misdemeanor: Touching someone in an offensive manner or threatening them could result in this charge. A conviction could result in up to 10 years in prison, up to $2,500 in fines, or a combination of both.
- Assault by an inmate is a misdemeanor: Causing a member of prison staff to come into contact with bodily fluids such as urine or semen could lead to a maximum of 10 years in prison and $2,500 worth of fines.
- Second-degree felony assault is a felony: This applies when the person accusing you of assaulting is a police officer, probation or parole officer. It can carry as much as a 10-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $5000.
- First-degree assault is a felony: This is where someone accuses you of doing or trying to do serious injury to them. Think pummelling their head to the point they are unconscious, not slapping their face. If you had a firearm, that could also warrant this level of charge. A court could sentence you to up to 25 years in prison.
You may have scared or hurt or someone without intending to, or you might have acted to protect your safety or that of someone else. Assault charges are serious, so it is crucial to realize there are defense options available.