Facing Assault Charges in Bethesda? Our Criminal Defense Firm Can Help
If a disagreement at a bar turns into a shoving match, it may not seem like a big deal—that is, until police arrest you and prosecutors charge you with assault. In fact, the situation does not have to escalate to physical contact, as you can face assault allegations for simply making threats of violence or injury. Assault laws and the criminal process in Maryland can confuse and intimidate anyone, and many people do not know how to best protect their rights.
However, you do not have to do it alone, as the Bethesda assault defense lawyers at Alpert Schreyer, LLC, are ready to help. We thoroughly understand assault laws and defenses and will work for the best possible outcome in every case. Do not accept unnecessary consequences in your assault case—call our office today to learn more about our services.
Assault Charges in Maryland
While assault can form a cause of action in a civil personal injury case, it is also a criminal offense under Maryland law. Assault can refer to:
- Threatening offensive physical contact toward another person
- Actually engaging in offensive physical contact with another person
- Threatening to cause serious physical injury to another person
- Actually causing serious physical injury to another person
Serious physical injury refers to an injury that results in lasting or permanent impairments, disfigurement, or the loss of a body part, or in a significant risk of death.
Depending on the circumstances of an alleged assault, you could face one or more of the following charges:
Second-degree assault – This charge generally applies to assault cases that do not involve serious bodily injury. You can face second-degree assault charges for offensively touching or pushing someone, or even for threatening to do so. No injuries have to result for you to face criminal assault charges. In most cases, second-degree assault is a misdemeanor charge, and a conviction could mean a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
However, the situation can get more serious if authorities allege that you committed an assault against someone you knew was a police officer, first responder, or probation or parole officer who was on the job. In these cases, you will likely face felony charges with potential penalties including 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
First-degree assault – This charge applies if a prosecutor alleges you intentionally caused or attempted to cause serious physical injury to another person. Prosecutors can also issue this charge for assaults that involved a firearm. This is serious felony offense carries a potential sentence of 25 years in state prison.
The sentence for a particular conviction will often depend on the alleged circumstances of the assault and the identity of the victim. The right defense attorney can present mitigating factors to try to reduce a sentence, as well as challenge any aggravating factors presenting by the prosecutor.
Assault convictions may also result in long-term consequences in addition to fines and jail time. Having a serious conviction on your criminal record can preclude:
- College acceptance and scholarships
- Eligibility for jobs
- Security clearances
- Professional licenses
- Housing rentals
- Owning firearms
While assault convictions can mean serious and lasting penalties, our attorneys can defend against these charges in many ways.
Defending Against Assault Charges
Our Bethesda criminal defense lawyers will carefully evaluate what happened in your situation and determine which defenses may apply. The following are some of the more common defense claims in assault cases:
- Lack of intent – A prosecutor must prove that your conduct was intentional to convict you of assault. If you tripped over something and fell into another person, knocking them down, you should not face assault charges since it was an accident and you never meant to come into contact with the victim. We know how to demonstrate when certain conduct was not intentional.
- Self-defense – With this defense, you admit that you committed the assault, but also claim that you had legal justification to do so. If you reasonably believe that another person is going to imminently hurt you, you have the right to defend yourself by using a reasonable amount of force. You cannot use more force than necessary to protect yourself, however, and you cannot use deadly force without the threat of serious bodily injury. In most cases, you also cannot claim self-defense if you started the altercation. Successfully claiming self-defense is more difficult than most defendants imagine, and you should hire a skilled defense lawyer to make this argument for you.
- Defense of others – Similar to self-defense, you have the right to use reasonable force to protect others from harm. Also similar to self-defense, this is often a difficult defense to prove without an experienced attorney on your side.
- Coercion – If someone else coerced you into committing an assault, you did not act willfully and, therefore, a court should not convict you of assault.
- Mistaken identity – In some cases, a person may accuse you of assault when someone else committed the offense. This is common after a bar brawl or another altercation in which many people were in the vicinity or involved in the fight.
These are only some of many possible defense strategies in Maryland assault cases. To learn more about your options, discuss your specific situation with a member of our experienced legal team as soon as you can.
Consult Our Bethesda Assault Defense Lawyers Today
The Bethesda criminal defense attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC, handle many types of cases in Maryland criminal court. We understand how the process works and how to best protect the rights of our clients. We believe that no one should face wrongful or unnecessarily harsh convictions or penalties, and we aggressively defend against criminal charges. Please call (866) 444-6363 or contact us online to discuss your case today.