The terms assault and battery are often used interchangeably by individuals. You have probably also heard these terms in television shows and movies from time to time.
Many states have laws that separate assault from battery, usually with the battery element being the most severe. In Maryland, no battery law exists, but defendants still risk harsh consequences if convicted of assault.
Degrees of assault charges
Since the state has no battery law for especially egregious conduct, you might wonder how it separates one assault from another. Maryland statutes define two degrees of assault that apply to most situations.
- First-degree assault—25 years of imprisonment or less
- Second-degree assault—10 years or less in prison and fines of $5,000 or less
- Additionally, inmates in state prisons may face third-degree misdemeanor assault charges for attacks on guards or officers.
How are charges determined?
You will likely face second-degree charges if the alleged conduct includes committing, attempting to commit or threatening offensive physical contact.
The prosecutor will probably charge you with first-degree assault if your case involves committing, attempting to commit or threatening serious physical injury.
Pursue a solid defense
Make no mistake; both charges put you at risk of incurring life-changing penalties if the court convicts you. Acting early to build a criminal defense gives you and your counsel time to investigate, gather evidence and create a strategy.
You may feel hopeless about your situation, but delving into the law while creating your defense could improve your situation. The more you know and understand about assault charges, the better your odds of obtaining a favorable outcome.