Maryland Assault and Battery Laws

In Maryland, the crime of assault, known as assault in the second degree, is a misdemeanor and occurs when a person makes offensive physical contact with another, attempts to make offensive physical contact with another, or intentionally frightens another. Maryland also has special laws regarding assaults against law enforcement officers, assaults that occur in correctional facilities, and reckless endangerment.

(Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-203.)

Assaults that cause or attempt to cause serious physical injury, and assaults committed with firearms, are felonies. For more information on these crimes, see Maryland Aggravated Assault Laws. For more information on assault and domestic violence, see Maryland Domestic Violence Laws.

Assault and Battery

In Maryland, the crime of assault can be committed in three different ways, by:

  • committing battery (unwanted physical contact with another)
  • attempting battery, or
  • placing another in apprehension of battery.

For battery and attempted battery, the prohibited conduct is the physical contact or attempted physical contact. The defendant’s act must be intentional (intended to cause harmful or offensive contact) or reckless (in disregard of a serious risk of offensive contact). For example, swinging a beer bottle in a crowded bar and accidentally hitting someone would probably be considered reckless.

If the assault is based on the apprehension of battery, the prohibited conduct is intentionally making the victim afraid. For example, lunging at someone in order to frighten the person would be considered an assault, even if the defendant did not intend to touch the victim, as long as the defendant intended to scare the victim.

(Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-201.)

Physical Injury

In Maryland, the crime of assault does not require any actual injury to the victim, but assaults that cause injury are punished more severely. Injury includes any physical impairment, as long as it is more than a minor injury. An example of an injury would be a cut that required a few stitches.

(Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-203.)

Assaults Against Law Enforcement Officers or in Correctional Facilities

Maryland has specific laws that apply to certain assaults against law enforcement officers or that are committed by inmates in correctional facilities.

Assault with injury against a law enforcement officer

It is a misdemeanor to assault and intentionally cause physical injury (the injury must be more than a minor injury) to a police officer, correctional officer, parole agent, probation agent, firefighter, emergency medical technician, rescue squad member, or any other first responder engaged in providing emergency medical care or rescue services. In order to commit assault with injury against an officer, the defendant must know or have reason to know that the officer is an officer and is performing official duties.

(Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § § 3-201, 3-203.)

Assault by an inmate

It is also a misdemeanor for an inmate to intentionally cause or attempt to cause any employee of a state or local correctional facility to come into contact with any bodily fluids (semen, urine, feces, or blood that is not the result of a physical injury resulting from contact between the inmate and the employee).

(Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-205.)

Reckless Endangerment

Maryland law also recognizes a crime called reckless endangerment. It is a misdemeanor to recklessly engage in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person. The statute makes clear that the law does not apply to the use of a motor vehicle, or the sale or manufacture of any product.

(Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-204.)

For example, placing a loaded gun where a child could find it or discharging would probably be considered reckless endangerment.

Reckless discharge of a firearm

It is also a misdemeanor to recklessly discharge a firearm from a vehicle in a manner that creates a substantial risk of death or serious injury. The law does not apply to law enforcement officers and security guards engaged in their official duties and people defending themselves from crimes of violence.

(Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-204.)

Punishment

The penalties for misdemeanor assault in the second degree include up to ten years in jail or prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. If the victim is a police officer, correctional officer, parole agent, probation agent, firefighter, emergency medical technician, rescue squad member, or any other first responder engaged in providing emergency medical care or rescue services, the assault is a felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

(Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-203.)

Assault and assault by an inmate is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to ten years in jail or prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

(Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-205.)

Reckless endangerment is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to five years in jail or prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

(Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-204.)

Getting Legal Advice and Representation

An assault conviction can have very serious consequences, including time in prison, a substantial fine, and a serious criminal record. Or, most likely with the help of a lawyer, you might be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced, or obtain not guilty verdict or a more lenient sentence than the maximum allowed by law. If you are charged with assault, you should contact a Maryland criminal defense attorney. An attorney will be able to tell you how your case is likely to fare in court based on the facts and can help you mount the strongest possible defense.

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