Baldwin & Briscoe P.C.
301-862-4400
22335 Exploration Drive Ste. 2030
Lexington Park, MD 20653
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Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz prevails in Second-Degree Assault Case

 

            At Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C., we take a lot of pride in trying cases.  From time to time we end up trying a case that on its face seems like it should be pled out.  Last month we successfully tried such a case and obtained an acquittal for a client.

 

            On its face the case appeared to be a slam dunk conviction for the state.  The defendant and the alleged victim, who lived together, had been arguing throughout the day.  The victim returned home in the evening and was texting with the defendant from another room in the house.  The texting led to an argument in the home and the defendant “walked aggressively” toward the victim, yelling at her.  As the defendant approached the victim, the victim was frightened and pushed him away.  The victim then struck the defendant again before the defendant pushed back.  The state produced multiple photos of the victim showing injuries to her face. 

 

            On cross examination, the victim in the case admitted that the defendant was in another room grabbing boxes when she entered and confronted him. She admitted that she basically shoved a phone in his face.  Finally, the state called the responding police officer as a witness.  Although the officer had no personal knowledge of the facts of the assault, he did testify that the victim appeared to have sustained an injury when he saw her on the following day.

 

            Why did we try this case?  When we evaluated the case, there were some things that simply didn’t add up.  Our client advised us that just prior to the assault he was trying to remove some of his belongings from the home.  While he was in the process of doing this, the victim entered the room and struck him in the face with her phone.  He said he pushed her away.  As he pushed her away, she fell and hit her face.  The victim had no marks on her at that time.  There was another person who was present at the time that the state did not call as a witness in their case, but that we did.  This other witness testified that the defendant did not lay a hand on the victim until she assaulted the defendant.  At that point the defendant pushed her back and she then fell over some items that were on the floor and may have hit her face on the bunk beds.

 

           We called our client’s young son as a witness for the defense.   Earlier in her testimony, the victim had testified that the defendant had thrown a soccer ball at her earlier on the day of the assault.  Our client’s son had witnessed the incident and testified that he observed the defendant throw the ball into the ground, not at the victim.  This significantly impacted the credibility of the victim in my opinion.  This witness was also in the house at the time of the alleged assault.  Although he did not see what transpired between the defendant and the victim, he testified concerning the appearance of the victim immediately after the assault.  Our witness testified that the victim did not appeared to be injured at that time.

 

            We also called our client to testify as to his version of the events. The defendant testified that he pushed the victim away only in self defense and that the victim fell and tripped at that time, resulting in apparent injury to her.  As indicated previously the judge ruled in favor of the defendant, finding him not guilty of the alleged assault.

 

           In criminal cases in Maryland and elsewhere, the state has the burden of proof.  That is to say that the defendant is presumed to be innocent and that presumption is not overcome unless the judge or jury is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the evidence presented shows the defendant is guilty.  The defendant is not required to prove his or her innocence. 

 

            In this case we argued that our client was not guilty because he acted in self-defense.  When self-defense is presented, the state has the burden of proving that self-defense does not apply.  There are four factors or elements that must be present for the self-defense defense to apply.  The state must prove that any one or more of the factors are absent in order to win the case.

 

            The four factors for self defense are:

1.   The accused must have had reasonable grounds to believe himself in apparent imminent or immediate danger
of bodily harm from his assailant or potential assailant.

2.  The accused must have in fact believed himself in danger.

3.  The accused claiming the right of self-defense must not have been the aggressor or provoked the conduct; and

4.  The force must not have been unreasonable and excessive; that is the force must not have been more force than the exigency demanded.

 

            When self-defense is presented, the defendant must produce some evidence to support each element.  At that point, the burden shifts to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense.  The state can do this, by proving that at least one of the factors listed above is absent.

 

            If you have been charged with a crime, you want an attorney who is going to carefully evaluate the evidence and explore all options for you.  Earlier in my career, I would have likely advised my client to enter a plea in this case.  In this case, the evidence didn’t add up and as a result we were able to obtain an verdict of not guilty.  This allowed our client to obtain an expungement of the charges.  It also allowed our client not to be burdened with the hassle of being on probation or having to attend anger-management classes, not to mention that our client did not go to jail.

 

             The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice.  An attorney can provide you with legal advice only after learning the specific facts of your situation.  The experienced attorneys at Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. can assist you if you are charged with assault or any other crime in the State of Maryland.  We’d be happy to sit down with you and carefully evaluate your case and provide appropriate advice.  There is never a consultation fee for criminal defense consultations.

 

The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. also offers these services:

Bankruptcy and ForeclosureBusiness LawCivil LitigationCriminal DefenseEmployment, Disability, and Consumer RightsFamily LawGovernment Contracts LawIntellectual Property, Personal InjuryReal Estate, Social Security Disability & Workers’ Compensation and Wills, Trusts, & Estates

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Us

The Law Offices of Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C.

22335 Exploration Drive

Suite 2030

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-862-4400 Phone

301-862-3009 Fax

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Our Attorneys

Samuel C.P. Baldwin, Jr., Esq.

Janice Briscoe, Esq.

Richard J. Steinmetz Jr., Esq.

David J. Hebb, Esq.

Sandra Kaufman Jonasen, Esq.

Andrew N. Sindler, Esq.
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With an office conveniently located in Lexington Park, The Law Offices of Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. serves clients in the counties and cities of Lexington Park, Leonardtown, Hollywood, Mechanicsville, Loveville, Helen, Breton Bay, Chaptico, Charlotte Hall, Golden Beach, Avenue, La Plata, Waldorf, Newburg, Port Tobacco, Port Charles, Solomons Island, Prince Frederick, Chesapeake Shores, Hughesville, Benedict, Nanjemoy, Lusby, Port Republic, St. Mary's County, Charles County, Calvert County, Prince George's County, Southern Maryland.


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