Defending against assault charges with self-defense

According to the Maryland Criminal Code, you may be charged with first- or second-degree assault for placing someone in imminent fear of physical harm. 

A serious threat of violence, a serious physical injury, or an assault with a deadly weapon, would all qualify as first-degree assault. Courts will consider whether the injury creates a substantial risk of death or causes permanent injuries or impairments when determining whether an injury is “serious.”


Second-degree assault covers threats of or actual offensive physical contact, but is not as serious as a first-degree assault. To determine what counts as offensive physical contact, courts will look at whether a reasonable person would be offended by the contact.


Assault charges can be difficult to defend against. However, there are a few strategies that defense attorneys use to give their clients the best chance at being found not guilty. One of the most common defenses is self-defense. In other words, you can establish that you only acted because you had a reasonable fear of being assaulted yourself, and needed to protect yourself from the assault. However, this defense will only work if your fear was reasonable and if you did not use more force than was necessary to stop them. This defense also works if you were defending someone else in danger.


If you are convicted of a first-degree assault, you may be facing fines and up to 25 years in jail, while a second-degree assault charge may result in fines and up to 10 years in jail. However, if you can establish that you were acting in self-defense, you may have your charges reduced or dropped altogether. A criminal defense attorney can come up with an effective criminal defense strategy to assist you.



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