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Assault and Battery

In Maryland the traditional common law crimes of Assault and Battery have been codified into the two statutory crimes of Second Degree Assault and First Degree Assault.

Second Degree Assault is a misdemeanor under Maryland Law, although it does carry the very significant maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and or a $2,500 fine. Second Degree Assault is among a classification of misdemeanors known in common parlance as a “penitentiary misdemeanors” - that is, a misdemeanor crime for which a person can be sentenced to more than a year in jail and therefore can be sent to the state prison system as opposed to a county detention center.

There are essentially three ways to violate the statute. The first is by committing a traditional battery which is the intentional offensive touching of another person without permission or justification. Typical second degree assaults involve punching, kicking, shoving, biting or spitting on another person. They also often include the throwing objects at other people without causing or attempting to cause serious injury. It is a general intent crime which simply means that the state need only prove that a person intentionally committed the act and did so without justification such as self-defense or defense of others.

The second way the statute can be violated is by committing an attempted battery which is essentially the “ he swung but missed” fact pattern. Attempting to punch or kick or spit on another person are common attempted battery variety assaults. Attempted batteries also include throwing objects or causing an object to be thrown at another person with the intent to strike them but not such objects that would likely to cause series physical injury.

The third and final way one can commit a Second Degree Assault is by taking such action as to place someone in imminent fear of an offensive touching. This means a threat to strike another person coupled with the apparent ability to immediately carry out that threat. In other words a threat to “beat someone up” next week, tomorrow or even in an hour would not constitute an imminent threat. A typical Second Degree Assault of this variety would be a threat coupled with a threatening move towards the intended victim or the raising of a fist or an object to be thrown.

First Degree Assault is a felony punishable by a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. It is a specific intent crime which means that in order to secure a conviction, the state must prove that the defendant committed an assault in one of the three ways described above either with the intent to cause serious physical injury or that results in serious physical injury to the victim. Serious physical injury means physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death or causes permanent or protracted serious disfigurement or loss of the function of any bodily member or organ. Prior to the consolidation of the theft statute first degree assaults were separated into several offenses including, assault with intent to kill, assault with intent to maim, assault with intent to disable and assault with intent to disfigure.

Needless to say both Second Degree and First Degree Assaults are very serious crimes that carry significant criminal penalties. If you have been charged with Assault, please contact our office for an immediate free consultation.