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Why Am I Charged with Assault for Defending Myself?

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Assault is often misunderstood as a criminal charge—for instance, in Maryland, assault charges come in two forms: first-degree assault, which is a felony, and second-degree assault, which is a misdemeanor. Because of the way assault is defined, people can be charged with assault as a result of circumstances outside their control.

Assault vs. Self-Defense

For example, there was once a woman who was defending herself from bar patrons who were touching her without consent. Unfortunately, in the chaos, she accidentally struck a police officer without looking. She was charged with Assaulting an Officer, which is a felony in her state. Without an attorney, she was eventually arrested for assault, jailed, and fired from her job.

Stories like hers are sadly common. In Maryland, a misdemeanor assault can be elevated to a felony assault when the suspect uses a firearm, a 'deadly weapon' (which includes anything from a knife to a pipe), or causes serious or permanent harm to the 'victim.' Additionally, the intent behind the assault will affect how the court charges a defendant. Was contact unintentional? Was the effect unintentional? Did the defendant accidentally harm the alleged victim?

Defending Yourself from Felony Assault Charges

In assault cases, who gets charged often comes down to what witnesses say to the investigating officers. If you were assaulted by someone else and attempted to defend yourself, but the witnesses only saw you defending yourself, the police may arrest you instead of your assailant. Here's the mistake most people make: they try to explain themselves to the officers, only to accidentally admit to assault.

The best way to defend yourself from being charged with assault for self defense is to wait for an attorney before answering any questions. By working with a defense attorney from Gracia & Mintz, you can challenge witness testimony, present your side of the story, and keep prosecutors from threatening you with harsh sentences. A defense attorney can present a case that shows you were defending yourself, that you were acting reasonably in the moment, or that you were wrongfully arrested.

Speak with our Prince George's County assault defense lawyers today to start building your case. We are skilled attorneys and can assist you with proving self defense in court. We offer free consultations to discuss your legal options and help you take the next step. Call (301) 842-8584 today!

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