With the stroke of a pen, a crime wave is born.
What sort of cases do we handle the most? The answer is in constant evolution.
At one point, it was possession of marijuana; at another, it was driving under the influence. However, changes in legislation, technology, and political priories have recently driven a new type of case to the forefront. Believe it or not, the current #1 most popular allegation on our books, which also means on the streets, is Felony Assault in the 1st Degree.
What Is Considered Felony Assault in Maryland?
Assault 1 is a serious crime that carries a potential quarter of a century in prison. Interestingly, the jump in Assault 1 cases began in early 2021. "Why" is the logical next question. While I am sure many would claim that Covid-19 and political divisiveness are causing a surge of violent behavior, to a student of the law, the reason is apparent and worth thinking about.
Historically, Assault 1 meant intentionally causing serious physical injury to another person or harming/threatening a person with a firearm. This version of that statute was broad enough to capture any seriously violent physical incident – the type of incident that would warrant a possible twenty-five years in a cage.
Post 2020, however, the law changed to include deliberately "strangling" another person. Strangling, and any tangible injury that stemmed from it, was previously captured under the "serious physical injury" section of the statute.
Of course, on paper, all of this makes sense. One should get in real trouble for strangling another. However, unlike "severe physical injury," which has tangible and observable signs of evidence, strangulation is a term of art, and strangulation is principally based on circumstantial non-observable evidence, like a person simply saying they were squeezed.
Whenever non-tangible proof is provided in relation to an alleged criminal act, which is rare in law, a vacuum of charges could result because the only thing needed to trigger criminal charges, is simply a claim.
The toughest part of a circumstantially based prosecution is that the State has unlimited funds to pursue expert analysis and a defendant must use private money, earned only after the State has taken its cut, to double-check the State's expert analysis.
This small, and arguably unnecessary, addition to the Assault 1 statute in 2020 has invariably turned just about any physical altercation where a human neck is touched into felony Assault 1 prosecution.
With that, the Assault 1 crime wave is born, and Assault 1 the #1 crime on the SZL books.
Possible Effects of the “Assault 1 Crime Wave”
The increase in Assault 1 charges is not based on an increase in violence; it is based on new language in the law that increased the capture power of the State of Maryland.
New language increased the diameter of the fishing net. The larger the net, the more fish get caught within its walls. When many fish who get caught in a large trap could or should escape, they get smothered by the sheer magnitude of the problem they face. The fisherman has a boat, a crew, a crane, a spear, a line with a hook, bait, and financiers. The fish could be all alone and resourceless compared to the fisherman.
Perhaps the fish get in a fight and touched someone's neck, but maybe the fish whose neck was touched says he was strangled when he wasn't. Then what?
We do not condone violence in any form, but we do condone transparency and truth. Nothing changed in how humans interact; what changed is the addition of vagueness into the law about how humans interact.
So, with that, there's a violent crime surge in Maryland centered around neck touching in all forms. Just like it is not illegal to drink a little bit and drive a car but can go to jail for misunderstanding what that means, knowing and understanding the laws and parameters of our everyday interactions are essential.
Understanding the ripple effect of legislative changes, i.e., politics, is essential.
Your Friends That Defend Are in Your Corner
The legal team at SZL is obsessed with understanding the ebbs and flows of the criminal laws we deal with daily. Their pursuit is truth and justice. While we hope you never need us, we remain available 24/7 to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of truth, tangible or intangible, as nothing is more important, in our opinions, that the notion that every human is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven otherwise.
Contact us at (410) 927-5137 today.