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What are the penalties for the Crime of First Degree Assault?

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | criminal defense |

In Maryland First degree assault, codified under Md. Code, Crim. Law § 3-202,  is Maryland’s felony assault statute. An act is considered first degree assault if a person intentionally causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to another, a person commits an assault with a firearm, or a person intentionally commits an assault by strangling another. Let us look into each specific way a person can be charged with first degree assault.

Serious Physical Injury

Maryland defines a serious physical injury as a physical injury that: (1) creates a substantial risk of death, (2) causes permanent or protracted serious disfigurement, loss of function of any body part or organ, or impairs the function of any body part or organ. An example of a serious physical injury would be the loss of a finger or a ruptured intestine. 

In cases where first degree assault is charged based on the theory of serious physical injury the state has to prove that the act of injuring the person was intentional. This means that the physical injury had to have been the intended goal of the assault. 

Assault with a Firearm

The second way that a person can be charged with first degree assault is if they commit an assault with a firearm. Assault is defined in Maryland as the crimes of battery, attempted battery, or assault.  

Battery is the intentional offensive touching of another. This essentially means that there was physical contact, which the person who received the contact did not want. When dealing with firearms the touching can either be from the firearm directly, such as the person being pistol-whipped, or through a bullet fired by the gun. Therefore shooting a person in the leg is considered a form of battery.

Attempted Battery is the attempt to intentionally offensively touch another person. There does not need to be physical contact for attempted battery. In the example of assault with a firearm, shooting at a person, but missing, would still be considered attempted battery, and the state could still charge first degree assault. 

Assault is when a person intentionally acts in a way that causes the other person to be frightened by a threat of immediate physical contact or harm. In this case flashing a pistol at someone and pointing it at them could be considered first degree assault with a firearm. This fear of immediate physical contact or harm has to be reasonable. This means that an ordinary person in the situation would have been afraid.

All three of these ways to be charged with first degree assault, because of assault with a firearm, require intention. This means the prosecutor has to prove that you intentionally used the gun to commit batter, attempted to commit battery, or assault. 


The third and final way to be charged with first degree assault is by intentionally strangling another. Strangling is the act of impeding breathing or blood circulation of another person by applying pressure to the other person’s throat or neck. This could be done by hands or objects, such as a belt.  Like the other two ways to be charged with assault in the first degree, assault in the first degree for strangulation requires the prosecutor to prove that the strangling was intentional, and not an accident.

What is the penalty?

First degree Assault is a very serious charge in Maryland. A conviction results in a felony and a maximum jail sentence of twenty-five years.  If you are charged with first degree assault it is imperative that you seek strong legal counsel. The attorneys at Maronick Law are experienced and educated in the best ways to represent you when facing a first degree assault charge. We are ready to provide the best representation possible and a strong, tireless defense.



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