Assault is the act of intentionally causing harm – or threatening to cause harm – to another person. This means that apart from hitting or pushing a person, you could also face assault charges for making threats to hurt another.
There are several types of assault under Maryland law. One of the least serious types is second-degree assault. But assault in the second degree can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on certain circumstances. What are these circumstances, and what are the penalties that await either conviction?
Assault in the second degree as a misdemeanor
Per state law, a person commits assault in the second degree as a misdemeanor if they commit intentional harm against another person. Maryland’s definition of assault combines the crimes of assault and battery, so even causing someone to reasonably fear imminent harm would be assault under the law.
If a court convicts someone of assault in the second degree as a misdemeanor, the convicted person faces up to 10 years of imprisonment and $2,500 in fines.
Assault in the second degree as a felony
Assault in the second degree becomes a felony if the intentional physical injury is directed at another person the offender knows is an emergency responder. This includes law enforcement officers, parole agents, firefighters, rescue squad members, or emergency medical technicians.
A person convicted of assault in the second degree as a felony faces up to 10 years of imprisonment and $5,000 in fines.
Notably, assault in the second degree doesn’t involve any weapon. This is regardless of whether the offense is a misdemeanor or felony. The moment an offender uses a firearm or weapon in the offense, it becomes assault in the first degree. Other factors that may turn an assault offense to this degree include causing serious physical injury to another person and intentional strangling.
So, assault in the second degree is normally a misdemeanor. However, if the offender directs their assault at an officer or emergency responder, it becomes a felony. Anyone who faces charges should consider consulting a legal professional who may be able to provide perspective on the case and help build a strong defense. Defense is critical because a conviction for even an assault misdemeanor can lead to up to 10 years behind bars.