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Maryland Assault Laws

Historically, assault has been closely associated with battery as assault often refers to threats of, or attempts to cause, physical harm to another while battery refers to actual physical harm. However, in the modern era, assault and battery are defined differently among states, with some states incorporating all related crimes under assault.

That's the case in Maryland which has different degrees of assault (not battery) based on the type of harm involved. For example, while common assault or second degree assault involves threats of, or actual, offensive physical contact, first degree assault involves threats of, or actual, serious physical injury. Offensive physical contact is that which a reasonable person would find offensive while serious physical injury is defined as those which:

  • Create a substantial risk of death; or
  • Cause permanent or protracted serious disfigurement or functional loss or impairment of body parts or organs.

The different degrees of assault can also apply based on:

  • The identity of the victim (law enforcement officers, firefighters, parole officers - second degree felony assault);
  • The identity of the perpetrator (inmates)
  • Whether any weapons are used (firearms - first degree assault).

Maryland Assault Laws at A Glance

For more information on specific Maryland assault laws, see the chart below.


Maryland Criminal Code Section 3-202 (first degree assault)

Maryland Criminal Code Section 3-203 (common assault and second degree assault)

Maryland Criminal Code Section 3-205 (assault by an inmate)

Possible Penalties

First Degree Assault: This is a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Second Degree Felony Assault: This is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Second Degree Misdemeanor Assault/Assault By An Inmate: This is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.


Defenses include:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of others
  • Mistake of fact
  • Lack of Intent
  • Coercion
  • Duress

For more information see Assault and Battery Defenses

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources for Maryland Assault Laws

Charged With Assault? An Attorney Can Help

If you've been charged with assault, your case is ultimately going to come down to the evidence against you; specifically, what the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced criminal defense attorney understands how to evaluate evidence and make the strongest argument on your behalf. Don't take your chances; contact a Maryland defense attorney today.

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