What is First-Degree Assault?

First-degree assault a serious criminal offense that is committed when a person causes or attempts to cause a serious physical injury to another person without legal justification. Conduct that would normally be considered a second-degree assault that is coupled with the use of a firearm is also considered to be an assault in the first degree. See Md. Code Criminal Law 3-202.

What is a Serious Physical Injury?

A serious physical injury is one that creates a substantial risk of death to another person, causes serious permanent or prolonged disfigurement to another person, or causes another person to suffer serious permanent or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. See Md. Code Criminal Law 3-201. In determining whether there was a serious physical injury, Maryland courts primary focus on the nature and extent of the injury itself, not how the alleged victim responded to medical treatment. Additionally, the State must prove that the Defendant had the specific intent to cause a serious physical injury to another person to be convicted of first-degree assault. This means that the State must prove that the Defendant knowingly committed or attempted to commit the first-degree assault intending a specific result, namely a serious physical injury. Whether the Defendant had the specific intent that is necessary to prove he or she committed a first-degree assault is evaluated based on all of the circumstances surrounding the case, including any of the Defendant’s statements or actions.

When is First-Degree Assault Legally Justified?

Maryland does not generally recognize consent as a defense to a charge of first-degree assault. In other words, it is generally not a defense if a person agrees or gives permission for the Defendant to inflict a serious physical injury to him or her. However, the defenses of duress, defense of others, and self defense may be applicable to a charge of assault in the first degree.

What is the Penalty for First-Degree Assault?

Assault in the first degree is a felony offense in Maryland that is punishable by a period of active incarceration of up to 25 years. In addition to possible jail time, a felony conviction for first-degree assault may carry certain collateral consequences; such as barriers to certain types of employment, a prohibition on the right to own or possess a firearm, and possible immigration consequences. See The National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction for a more detailed list of possible collateral consequences.

Baltimore County, MD First-Degree Assault Attorney

Contact our office to meet with an experienced Baltimore County, MD criminal defense attorney during a free consultation to discuss your case and possible defenses if you have been charged with the crime of assault in the first degree. Our criminal defense attorney can work closely with you to bring out the facts of your case, present your case in the best possible light, and assert any applicable defenses. Even if your case does not go to trial, our criminal defense attorney can help you avoid a possible conviction on your record or, at the very least, minimize the consequences of a criminal conviction for first-degree assault.