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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 12235
Experience:  Attorney
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How can you be given a summons to appear in court for a 2nd

Customer Question

How can you be given a summons to appear in court for a 2nd degree assault in MD, if you only had a one on one argument with someone and no one was around to hear or see it. The police officer called your house and said he was taken a verbal assault complaint. then you receive a summons and look on-line a Maryland judicial case search and see a summons listed for 2nd degree assault. CR.3.203. That is a charge for physical contact with another person that results in bodily injury. How can an verbal argument be a 2nd degree assault charge and summons to appear. Confused?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 1 year ago.

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Customer:

hello

Brandon M. :

Hi, thank you for your question.

Customer:

sure

Customer:

very confused right now. this seems ridculious

Brandon M. :

The verbal argument obviously doesn't prove assault by itself, but it may fill in a piece of the puzzle that does prove the assault charge. Please allow me to explain using an example:

Brandon M. :

Let's say that you're on the street corner, minding your own business, and a kid runs past you. The kid appears to be approximately 15 years old. He's white with long hair, a medium build, and approximately 5' 6" tall. He's wearing a red sweat shirt...

Brandon M. :

You get summoned to appear in court in a criminal prosecution of arson. What does anything you saw have to do with arson?...

Customer:

ok, i have no idea

Customer:

sounds more like being a witness then being summons to appear on a charge

Brandon M. :

Well, a block down the street, someone fashioned a fuse and tied it to a gas canister. The fuse was lit, and it caused a fire that, fortunately, was quickly extinguished. 30 minutes later and 1/2 mile down the road, a police officer happened to speak with a kid matching that description who smelled of gasoline. It was suspicious, so the officer took the kid's name, but the officer had not yet learned of the fire. The kid says that he was no where near the fire when it happened--that he had been at his father's garage 5 miles away when the incident happened. Your testimony would be important to help show that the kid was not 5 miles down the road, but a block away when the fire was lit. It would be necessary to place him at the scene.

Brandon M. :

That said, I may have misunderstood the circumstances... are you listed as the defendant?

Customer:

ok let me explain.

Brandon M. :

Ok.

Customer:

I had an one on one verbal argument with another person. NO one was around and NO one hear what was said. after the argument the other person called the police to report the argument. A police officer called my home and said he was investigating a verbal assault compliant. I gave the officer my information and side of the story. Officer said thank you and he would let the other person know his legal rights from here. Today i got a summons to appear in court. I looked on Maryland Judicial case search and it is showing a summons to appear on a 2nd degree assault charge. CR.3.203. WTF

Customer:

the officer stated that the other person admitted NO physical contact and it was an argument only. how it is a 2nd degree assault.

Brandon M. :

Well, that is an interesting question. It definitely seems that you are being summoned as a defendant, not subpoenaed as a witness.

Customer:

why am i summons to appear and it does not state any charges but when you look online is says summons on 2nd degree assault.

Customer:

totally confused

Brandon M. :

Let's take this one step at a time and see if we can figure out why this is the charge.

Brandon M. :

First, let's look at the legal definition of "assault".

Customer:

I already did

Customer:

cr.3.203 states a intentional physical contact with another person who results in bodily injury.

Customer:

no injury no cr.3.203

Customer:

verbal assault is a statement of intent to cause bodily injury. has to be proven thou.

Customer:

means witnesses or admitted statement. neither has occured.

Customer:

even the officer said this is a he said she said compliant. why am I being summons on a serious charge but not arrested or even show a charge on my summons.

Brandon M. :

That is surprising. What exactly did you allegedly say? Do we know? Are you accused of threatening the other person with physical harm?

Customer:

the other person told the officer that I said "I was going to pull his hair out". I told the officer I didn't say that.

Customer:

on top of it all this was a telephone conversation only. the officer did not speak to me face to face.

Customer:

the entire arguement lasted 30 seconds. the only person was asked if he called someone stupid, multiple times. his response was " get away from me". I did. then i got a call from the police. very simple

Customer:

i am so confused

Customer:

no physical contact and ever threatened him. he is saying i said "I will pull your hair out". seems very 3rd grade of him, but WTF. I am summons on 2nd degree assault

Brandon M. :

Ok, keeping in mind that I have only one half of one piece of the story, I obviously am not in a position to make an estimate about the persuasiveness of the evidence against you. That said, the state has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and it's very, very, very difficult to imagine that happening based only on a he-said, she-said situation. It could be that you will appear in court and the case will be dismissed without you saying a word--I've seen that happen. Sometimes, the prosecution will set a matter for court just to get it quickly on the court's calendar and then drop the charge after deciding that there isn't enough evidence to prosecute.

Brandon M. :

But we unfortunately can only speculate at this juncture. A defendant can't even see the evidence against them until after they appear in court on the first day and plead "not guilty", so it's really just a lot of speculation at this point.

Customer:

ok but why a CR.3.203. seems totally out of the ballpark of what happened. I have to retain legal counsel for this summons.

Customer:

and i have a public record charge.

Brandon M. :

Can I see a logical explanation for the charge based on your description of events? No, I cannot. And that's a good thing because the prosecution doesn't want to waste their resources pursuing charges that they can't prove--it looks bad for their office and they have bigger fish to fry.

Brandon M. :

Being charged and being convicted are two very different things. Being charged generally does not have any sort of legal ramifications as long as there is no conviction.

Customer:

so why would they even charge this case. the event happened in the middle of a baseball field and the closest person was over 50 yards away. the officer even stated no witnesses to the event.

Brandon M. :

If I was charged with a crime, especially if I questioned the strength of the case, I would appear at the first court hearing as ordered. If the charge wasn't dropped at the first hearing, I would plead "not guilty" and make the state try to prove their case.

Customer:

the summons is from district court of Carroll county MD. I will appear and have legal counsel. "not guilty" of course.

Brandon M. :

Your questions are logical, and I would just say that you're right that it doesn't seem to be at all supported. But in life, we sometimes have to accept that we don't have all of the information right away. So you have to be patient here because there is no choice. If your description of events is correct, it's entirely possible that the case will be dropped before you even have to plead "not guilty". As I said, I've seen that happen on plenty of occasions.

Customer:

can you say "not guilty" or is the case moved forward, like traffic court, right there?

Customer:

ok last question.

Brandon M. :

The only thing that happens for a misdemeanor charge like 2nd degree assault on the first day, assuming the case is not dismissed, is that the defendant enters a plea.

Brandon M. :

"guilty", "not guilty", or "no contest" are the options.

Customer:

if the person clams "I will pull your hair out". I say that I didn't. there is no witnesses to the account. can the state really move forward?

Brandon M. :

If the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, the defendant has the option of being sentenced. If "not guilty" is pleaded, a new court hearing is set to give the defendant time to review the evidence.

Customer:

oh ok. should i even bring legal counsel then. i of course will plead "not guilty"

Brandon M. :

The prosecution only needs "probable cause" to lawfully prosecute a case, even though "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" is needed to get a conviction. But the prosecution won't waste their resources on a case if they think that they don't have proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Customer:

yea the on-line record even marks probable cause. I was floored reading it.

Brandon M. :

I will never tell someone to not bring counsel with them to any hearing in criminal court. That said, some court appearances are high risk and some are low risk to the criminal defendant. Appearing at an arraignment when you know that you plan to plead "not guilty" on a misdemeanor would definitely be considered "low risk".

Brandon M. :

Probable cause isn't a very high standard. Fortunately, an actual conviction is a very high standard.

Customer:

ok, i will retain legal counsel. i don't even have the police report. it was just a phone call. i guess that might put some light on this crazy thing.

Customer:

very crazy i have to retain counsel, pay thousands of dollars to defend something that didn't even happen.

Brandon M. :

You really don't know much about the "why" until you've seen the police report, and that requires getting past the first court appearance. I can confirm the law and the standards of proof, but there's just no way to explain how the charge would be justified until this gets further along. Naturally, if the case gets thrown out at the first court appearance, that would be your confirmation that there was never a belief to begin with.

Brandon M. :

Well, if you retain private counsel, a single court appearance wouldn't cost much at all. And when a defendant wins an acquittal, it is sometimes possible to sue the state for malicious prosecution.

Brandon M. :

That would be way down the road, however. Seriously... my recommendation is to not worry yet about what hasn't happened. You will have a much, much clearer expectation of the outcome after the first appearance in court.

Customer:

wow. ok then. i will retain counsel. do you think, if dismissed, i can turn the tables on this person for filing false police reports as well?

Brandon M. :

Too early to say. It's possible, but you would typically want to see what was said in the police report.

Customer:

understood. thank you for your time.

Customer:

i will rate you now and sign off.

Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 12235
Experience: Attorney
Brandon M. and 6 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you

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