Halloween Safety: What is Assault?

Halloween fun does not need to stop when you grow up. But, many adults associate the holiday with excessive drinking, partying and mischief. At times, these activities are taken too far, leading to larger crimes such as assault. Here, the criminal defense attorney, Jeffrey Scholnick breaks discusses the distinct types assault, as well as the penalties in the state of Maryland.

Defining Assault

In Maryland, assault is broken down into three major categories: first degree assault, second degree or “common” felony assault and second degree misdemeanor assault or assault by an inmate. First degree assault is a felony, the most serious of crimes, and is defined by “a person attempting to cause or causing serious physical injury to another.” This includes assaults with a firearm.

Second degree felony assault is defined as “a person intentionally causing physical injury, but not minor injury, to someone they know or have reason to know is a law enforcement official, firefighter, parole or probation agent, emergency medical technician, rescue squad member or any other individual providing emergency medical or rescue care.”

Second degree misdemeanor assault is when a person “intentionally causes physical injury leading to any physical impairment, but not minor injury, to another.” Assault by an inmate is explicitly for instances where, “an inmate may not maliciously cause or attempt to cause a state or local correctional facility employee or a sheriff’s office employee to come into contact with seminal fluid, urine, feces or blood, if the blood does not result from a physical altercation between an inmate and employee.” Any other intentional physical injury caused by an inmate to another individual would be charged under the appropriate assault category, depending on the nature of the offense.

Penalties for Assault

As felonies are more severe crimes than misdemeanors, so too are their punishments. If found guilty of first degree assault in the state of Maryland, the maximum penalty is a 25-year imprisonment. Second degree felony assault incurs a maximum $5,000 fine or 10 years in prison. Second degree misdemeanor assault, as well as assault by an inmate both receive a maximum penalty of $2,500 in fines and a 10-year imprisonment.

Self-Defense and Assault

In the state of Maryland, self-defense can become assault, if the amount of force used in the act of self-defense is not reciprocal to the danger an individual faces. Maryland law follows several common law principles when determining whether self-defense was justified, including the “duty to retreat,” meaning someone in harm outside their home has the duty to retreat to safety, unless doing so would be unsafe or impossible, as well as “the castle doctrine,” meaning that an individual facing danger inside their home has the right to defeat or deter the invader, if only a reasonable amount of force is used. To justifiably defend oneself, the individual must reasonably believe they are in imminent or immediate danger of death or serious bodily harm, have not provoked or aggressed the perpetrator and only use reasonable force to mitigate the danger.

Jeffrey Scholnick Will Fight for You in Court

Halloween can be a holiday where innocent fun quickly becomes a criminal offense, especially when drugs or alcohol are involved. We ask everyone to enjoy their Halloween festivities safely and responsibly; however, we know that innocent mistakes are inevitably made. If you have been charged with assault, know that you deserve to be defended to the fullest extent in and out of the courtroom. Our dedicated and experienced attorneys want to help you seek justice: contact us today for a free consultation.

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