What Should I Do If I've Been Charged With A Maryland Second Degree Assault?
It goes without saying that anyone charged with having committed a crime in the state of Maryland is facing one of, if not the most, dire situations of their life. The consequences of a criminal conviction are lasting and can be devastating to one's educational, residential and career prospects.
It is of vital importance that the defendant in a Maryland assault prosecution understand the both the nature of the charge and the evidence to be used against them.
To be sure, this can be said of any criminal charge, but understanding how the State of Maryland intends to prove its case looms particularly large in a second degree assault prosecution. The crime of second-degree, or misdemeanor, assault in Maryland is one of, if not the, most frequently charged crime in the state. It is moreover, and unfortunately, probably the most overcharged or inappropriately charged crime in the state. There may be a variety of reasons for this seeming statistical anomaly, but I believe probably the primary reason is that assault has applicability to almost any interaction involving potential criminality, and more than one individual. Every potentially criminal interaction in which one person has contact with another could potentially, or allegedly, have an assault occur- in addition to any number of other potential crimes.
The other reason is that under Maryland law, the crime of second-degree assault is probably the easiest for a prosecutor to prove. There are three ways that the prosecution can prove second degree assault.
- An individual attempted to strike another person and put that other person in a reasonable fear of imminent physical contact
- An individual engaged in some activity that placed another in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical contact
- An individual made physical contact with another person without that individual’s consent.
What is significant for this latter theory of assault is that there need to be no injury to the alleged victim. Moreover, the defendant in the case need not have intended to injure the other individual -only to touch them. [If the defendant intends to and acts to harm another person, you might be dealing with a felony or first-degree assault]. Because of the relative ease of proof, the defendant in a Maryland assault case must have a detailed understanding of what State they can demonstrate, and how they intend to prove it.
This concept of course has general applicability to any criminal prosecution but it's perhaps or uniquely applicable to a Maryland assault prosecution.
There are defenses to an assault charge such as self-defense, or potentially the defense of others or property. Additionally, in some assault cases, the alleged victim is often a friend or family member, or partner of the alleged assailant who might be reluctant to testify, or, depending on the nature of their relationship, might enjoy a statutory privilege against testifying for the State and against the defendant. Accordingly, in these situations, understanding what the State is going to be able to prove at trial, and what they might have difficulty with -while always vital information- perhaps is even more important in the midst of second degree assault prosecution.