When you hear the term assault, you might picture one individual going up to another and purposefully harming them. So you might be surprised if you are arrested on assault charges when you did not set out to do that.
The police can arrest you for assault if they believe you harmed someone or even when they only believe you threatened them. Maryland has a broader definition than states that divide things into assault and battery. Maryland does not use the term battery but calls it all assault.
Second-degree assault is less serious than first-degree assault
A first-degree assault involves a more serious physical injury, whether achieved or simply intended. For example:
- Punching someone in the chest or attempting to would probably amount to second-degree assault.
- Strangling them, stabbing them in the arm or waving a gun in their face are more likely to result in first-degree assault charges.
First-degree assaults are felonies. Second-degree assaults are misdemeanors except when the other person has special status. So, if the person you are alleged to have assaulted is a police officer, firefighter, parole officer or similar, it becomes a felony. It should not apply unless they were on duty at the time.
What if you hurt someone without any intention?
You could still face assault charges if you seriously hurt someone or could have, despite you having no intention to harm anyone. That is because the police might not believe you never meant to.
If you can show there was no intention, the court should change the charges to reckless endangerment, not that it is a charge to take lightly. Alternatively, if you can show you were only acting in self-defense, you may escape conviction altogether.
Getting legal help if accused of assault will be crucial to assess your best defense options.