First-Degree Assault attorney Stephen P. Shepard in Towson, MD

What is First-Degree Assault?

First-degree assault is a felony 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 degreeSee 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.

It is important to note that the determination of what constitutes “substantial serious injury” for first-degree assault in Maryland can be complex and depends on the specific facts and circumstances of each case.

Possible Defenses to a First-Degree Assault Charge

Defenses to a first-degree assault charge in Maryland may include the following:

  • Self-Defense: If a person reasonably believed that they or someone else were in imminent danger of harm, they may use reasonable force to defend themselves or others.  Reasonable force means that the force used must be proportional to the perceived threat.
  • Defense of Others: Similar to self-defense, a person may use reasonable force to defend someone else if they reasonably believed that the other person was in imminent danger of harm.

  • Lack of Specific Intent: If a person did not intend to cause serious physical harm to another person, then they may be able to argue that they did not commit a first-degree assault.
  • Alibi: If the accused can provide evidence that they were not present at the scene of the alleged assault, then they may be able to argue that they did not commit a first-degree assault.

  • Mutual Affray:  Mutual affray is a defense to a first-degree assault charge that applies in situations where both parties were engaged in a physical altercation and both parties are equally at fault. Mutual affray basically means that both parties were engaged in a fight or brawl, and neither party was acting in self-defense.  It is important to note that mutual affray is a legal defense that requires both parties to be equally at fault. If one party was clearly the aggressor and the other was acting in self-defense, the defense of mutual affray would not apply.

It is important to note that every case is unique, and the available defenses will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of the case.

Unlike with second-degree assault, 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.

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.

First-Degree Assault Attorney in Towson, Maryland

Contact Shepard Law to meet with an award-winning 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.

During a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney in Maryland, you can discuss your legal situation and receive general advice on how to proceed.  Here are some of the topics you may want to cover during your consultation:

  • Defense strategy: A criminal defense attorney can review the evidence against you and develop a defense strategy that best fits your case.

  • Charges and potential penalties: You can discuss the specific charges against you, including any potential penalties or consequences if you are convicted.

  • Legal process: A criminal defense attorney can explain the legal process and what you can expect during each stage of the case, including pre-trial hearings, plea negotiations, and trial.
  • Legal fees: You can discuss the attorney’s fees and any potential costs associated with your case, including court fees and expert witness fees.

It is important to be open and honest with the criminal defense attorney during the consultation so that they can provide you with the best possible advice and representation if retained.

Mr. Shepard is an amazing attorney as well as a person. He goes above and beyond for his clients, and does whatever he can to help them. He is extremely knowledgeable regarding all aspects of the law, unlike many other attorneys. He is willing to work with people financially. I have never met any other defense attorney that doesn't do this job mostly for monetary gain. I HIGHLY recommend him to anyone who is looking for a standout attorney, that cares deeply about, and helping his clients.
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Stephen was knowledgeable and caring through out the whole process. To say he went above and beyond is an understatement. If you need a criminal defense attorney you need to hire Stephen. It will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.
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