Aggressive Criminal Defense Representation in Bowie, Maryland
Are you accused of assault? If so, you will need an aggressive criminal defense attorney by your side from the start. At Alpert Schreyer, our criminal defense attorneys have years of experience in criminal court and can fight for your rights. Contact us today.
Maryland categorizes assault into first and second degrees, with first-degree assault the more serious crime.
- First-degree assault is a felony and involves intentionally causing or attempting to cause serious physical injury. It also involves committing an assault with a firearm.
- Second-degree assault involves offensive physical contact or threats of offensive physical contact, which is a misdemeanor offense. However, if you assault a police officer or probation/parole officer, then you have committed second-degree felony assault.
Punishment differs depending on the offense:
- First-degree assault is punishable by as many as 25 years in jail
- Second-degree felony assault is punishable by as many as 10 years in jail and a $5,000 fine
- Second-degree misdemeanor assault is punishable by as many as 10 years in jail and a $2,500 fine
The precise punishment you face will depend on your criminal history and the severity of the alleged assault, among other factors. When you meet with a criminal defense attorney for a case evaluation, you can better understand what punishment you are facing.
How the State Proves Assault
To obtain a conviction, the prosecutor will need to convince a jury that you are guilty of assault beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard, and the state will need compelling proof that you committed the offense.
For example, the prosecutor might introduce:
- Testimony of the victim or other witnesses who saw the assault
- Photographic or video offense of you committing the offense
- Physical evidence, such as your DNA or blood on the victim or the victim’s clothing
- Your statements, especially if you admitted to touching the victim
At Alpert Schreyer, we will analyze each piece of evidence and identify whether it has an innocent explanation or whether we can move to have the court suppress it.
Prosecutors are not supposed to bring assault charges unless they are firmly convinced of your guilt. In truth, however, prosecutors bring flimsy cases every day, often based on nothing but the victim’s statements, and we have sometimes gotten these cases dismissed because the state has no credible evidence.
One way to win your case is to knock out certain pieces of evidence by showing that the state collected them illegally. For example, we can work to get the judge to throw out:
- Any confession or incriminating statement if the police did not give you adequate Miranda warnings or if they coerced the statements out of you
- Any witness identification obtained with an unduly prejudicial lineup or photo array
- Any physical evidence the state seized without a proper search warrant or extenuating circumstances
Suppressing evidence requires time and effort, and many criminal defense attorneys are unwilling to go the extra mile to get illegally obtained evidence thrown out of court. Instead, they will simply argue to the jury that the evidence is unduly prejudicial and that jurors should not believe it. At Alpert Schreyer, we will carefully canvass the entire factual record and eliminate any evidence obtained contrary to your Constitutional rights.
One common defense to assault is that you defended yourself from an attack someone else started. In Maryland, self-defense is a valid defense that can justify an acquittal.
A proper self-defense claim includes that:
- You believed you were in immediate danger of bodily harm
- Your belief was reasonable
- You did not use more force than was reasonably necessary to defend yourself in light of the circumstances
In some cases, defendants use disproportionate force, which prevents them from succeeding with a self-defense claim. For example, pulling out a gun and shooting someone who snapped you with a rubber band is behaving all out of proportion to the threat. However, punching someone who has raised a fist to hit you in the face might prove reasonable, given the circumstances.
In Maryland, you can also claim self-defense if you believed someone else was in immediate danger of bodily harm and your belief was reasonable. You cannot use any more force than was reasonably necessary to protect that person, and you must have acted to help the person you believed was in danger.
Once a defendant produces evidence in support of a self-defense claim, the state has the burden of disproving self-defense. This is a high hurdle for the state to clear, so self-defense can sometimes work as a defense.
Domestic Violence Cases
In many domestic violence situations, the alleged victim will get a protective order against the suspected abuser. If this situation applies to you, you must follow all of the terms in the order. For example, a judge might have ordered you to:
- Not contact the victim or any of the victim’s relatives
- Not visit the victim’s house or workplace
- Not visit your children’s school
- Move out of the house that you share with the alleged victim
- Turn over any firearms in your possession
- Attend alcohol or drug classes
- Undergo regular drug or alcohol testing
Follow every term of the protective order, even if your partner wants to get back with you. If you break any of the terms, the police will arrest you, and you can face fines or jail time for contempt of court.
Assault charges stemming from alleged domestic abuse require extra sensitivity so that you can protect all of your rights and not run afoul of the law. If you violate your protective order, then your criminal assault charge could become the least of your worries.
Reach Out to Our Bowie, Maryland, Criminal Defense Attorneys
Assault convictions can carry a stigma for the rest of your life. To set yourself up for a favorable outcome—whether dismissal, acquittal, or a guilty plea—you need an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. Call Alpert Schreyer today at (866) 444-6363, or fill out our contact form. We offer a free initial case evaluation.