Facing Assault and Battery Charges? Here’s What You Need to Know
There’s a fine line between assault and battery, and the two can often get confused.
However, it is important to know that each state has its own laws regarding assault, battery or what qualifies as either of them. But, in general, most laws have a few things in common.
So assault under Maryland law is not entirely isolated from, say, California or Texas.
That being said, let’s examine a few general concepts that will help you out if you or someone you know is facing assault and battery charges.
What Is Assault?
Generally, assault does not require physical contact or harm. What it does require is the threat of such harm or bodily injury. Intention and ability play important roles in most definitions of assault.
This means that the offender must intend to cause some kind of bodily harm, as well as have the ability to carry out this threat of injury.
While assault and battery are generally clubbed together, there exist a few differences between the two.
What Is Battery?
Battery refers to actual physical contact or bodily injury. So, to qualify as battery, actual injury is necessary, as opposed to a mere threat, as described under assault.
Battery doesn’t even necessarily have to include actual harm or injury. It could include any form of physical touch that the victim has reason to consider offensive.
While battery can exist as a crime of its own, a few states like Texas and Maryland make no distinction between assault and battery. Under Maryland law, assault is defined to include both these concepts, under the categories first-degree assault and second-degree assault.
So let’s look at the various types of assault that exist, and how the law addresses them.
Types of Assault
Depending on the state, there can be various classifications or types of assault. Generally, aggravated assault and first-degree assault are the same, and second-degree assault and simple assault are the same things.
FIRST DEGREE ASSAULT
Under Maryland criminal law, first-degree assault refers to the intentional infliction of serious injury, or simply the intent to do so. This can include potentially fatal injuries, an injury that can cause disfigurement, the loss of a body part or organ or the impairment of a body part or organ.
Another kind of assault in the first degree includes assault with a firearm, like a handgun and other weapons laid out under the Maryland Criminal Code 4-301, 4-401 and 5-101. These kinds of assault are considered felonies.
First degree assault is also considered a form of aggravated assault.
Second Degree Assault
Second-degree assault can include inappropriate touching, shoving, smacking and lesser violent forms of attack. These are generally categorized as misdemeanors. However, when such injury is inflicted on a law enforcement officer, parole or probation agent, firefighter, paramedic or first responder performing their line of duties, it is a felony.
Usually second degree assault is also considered simple assault.
Misdemeanor vs Felony: General Rule of Punishment
The concepts of misdemeanor and felony are used to determine your penalty. A misdemeanor offense (like most second degree assaults) is punishable by a fine or a jail sentence of no longer than one year.
A felony, on the other hand, (and first-degree assault), is punishable by incarceration that exceeds one year.
However, these are general definitions, and actual penalties may vary from state to state depending on the severity of the assault and the injury caused.
What Is an Impact Statement?
An impact statement is a written or oral statement given by the victim. These statements describe how the victim got affected by the alleged assault and can often get presented by various other members of the family and friends as well.
The statement may include emotional, financial and physical effects of the assault.
In addition to this, in the case of sexual assault, the victim also has the right to request that the offender or alleged offender undergo an HIV test.
The victim may also request the court to issue an order of restitution against the defendant. An order of restitution is a civil remedy to ensure some form of financial compensation to the victim, from the offender.
Some Rights of the Defendant
As a defendant, you have several defenses against wrongful or false allegations of assault whether sexual or otherwise. Your defenses depend on the circumstances surrounding your case, and it is best to consult a criminal attorney to figure out your line of defense.
Some examples include proving lack of intent, self-defense, and so on.
In case a sentence has already been passed, and you consider it unjust, you can also file for an appeal to a higher court. This appeal can be based on a misinterpretation of the law or other errors in law. If you have already been acquitted, keep in mind that you are constitutionally protected by the rule against double jeopardy.
What Do You Do When Faced With Assault and Battery Charges?
The most important thing you can do, when faced with assault and battery charges is to find the right attorney. The laws surrounding these types of cases are incredibly nuanced and complex, requiring a great deal of expertise.
Even if you are guilty for part of the allegations, a criminal attorney can help you get a fairer sentence in court.