While many of us hear from a young age to keep our hands to ourselves, the truth is that there are situations where not only can physical violence occur, but it may even be necessary from a self-defense standpoint. The problem, though, is that the law may not always initially be on your side.
In looking at Maryland assault laws, the first thing to keep in mind is that you do not need to physically touch anyone in order to be charged with assault. Rather, you can end up facing first or second-degree assault charges for merely threatening to hurt someone, or actually hurting someone. One of the key differences between first or second-degree has to do with the severity.
Self-defense: Know the criteria
Almost everyone has heard of self-defense when it comes to assault charges, but what exactly do this mean?
While many do claim self-defense, your attorney will generally need to prove certain criteria in order for the defense to stand up. These criteria include a threat against you, the perception that you were in danger and that there was no other reasonable way to get yourself out of the situation. Additionally – you could not have been the one to start the fight.
Defending others: Knowing when to step in
Let’s say you are out at a bar with a group of friends. For one reason or another, tensions start to rise between your female friend and a man sitting at another table. Words are exchanged and before you know it, someone is up in your face. A punch is thrown, police are called and you are arrested. Do you have a defense?
The answer: It depends. While the law does recognize that you may have a need to defend someone else, the criteria is the same: Among these, you need to be able to prove that you honestly feared your friend was going to get hurt and that there was no other way to avoid the situation.
At the end of the day, self-defense is one of the more common defenses when it comes to assault charges. However, it may not be the only viable defense. Your attorney will be able to look at the specifics leading up to your arrest and make suggestions based on the facts.