People in Maryland will get into fights with friends, loved ones or even strangers from time to time. Most of the time, these fights only consist of verbal disagreements or insults. However, the stakes are raised if one party threatens the other with physical harm or causes physical harm.
Under Maryland Code §3-201, assault constitutes the crimes of both battery and assault, as defined in case law. Maryland Code §3-203 prohibits an individual from committing assault. If they do, they will be charged with second-degree assault, which is a misdemeanor crime. If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.
However, under Maryland Code §3-202, a person cannot intentionally cause or attempt to cause a person to suffer a serious physical injury. Serious personal injury, under the law, means either physical injury that carries a substantial risk of death, physical injury that causes permanent or serious disfigurement, permanent or serious loss of the function of an organ or other bodily member or permanent or serious impairment of the function of an organ or bodily member. A person who commits assault with a weapon will face first-degree assault charges, which is a felony crime. If convicted, a person could face up to 25 years in prison.
The crime of assault can also involve a firearm. An individual in Maryland is prohibited from committing assault with various types of firearms. These firearms include handguns, antique guns, rifles -- both traditional and short-barreled, shotguns -- both traditional and short barreled, assault pistols, machine guns and other regulated firearms. A person who commits assault with a weapon will face first-degree assault charges, which is a felony crime. If convicted, a person could face up to 25 years in prison.
As this shows, while assault generally is a misdemeanor crime, if the alleged threat or injury is serious or involves the use of a weapon, the crime will be considered a felony and will have significantly more serious penalties. It is imperative that those charged with either misdemeanor or felony assault formulate a solid defense strategy.