Articles Posted in Self-Defense

As a Former Assistant State’s Attorney and Baltimore Maryland Criminal Attorney for almost 20 years, I have prosecuted and defended thousands of people charged with Second Degree Assault and/or First Degree Assault. For reasons that I cannot understand, there is a very common misperception in the general population and even with some in law enforcement, that Maryland does not recognize the concept of Self-Defense. This is simply not the law. The State of Maryland and every other State for that matter, absolutely does recognize the legal doctrines known to every first grader as Self-Defense and Defense of Others.

The right of people to defend themselves against violent attack goes back at least to English common law and probably as long as people have gathered together in organized societies. It is an obvious fundamental human right so it is difficult to understand how how widespread this misunderstanding has become in Maryland. The only theory I can come up with is that people are confusing the concept of a Mutual Affray which Maryland does not technically recognize with the universally recognized theory of Self-Defense. I had a client come in and meet with me this week that I think illustrates this misunderstanding of Maryland Law on this subject well. Here are the facts:
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Maryland criminal lawyers, both defense attorneys and prosecutors, have a difficult time understanding the application of the Castle Doctrine. The answer is simple: A person’s status as an invited guest or uninvited trespasser does not impact an occupant’s right to reasonably defend their property. Under the Castle Doctrine, “a man faced with the danger of an attack upon his dwelling need not retreat from his home to escape the danger, but instead may stand his ground and, if necessary to repel the attack, may kill the attacker.” Regardless of whether the attacker is an uninvited trespasser, or an invited guest-turned aggressor, the law protects an occupant’s right to use force reasonably necessary to prevent or terminate an intruder’s entry into the home.

With respect trespassers and other uninvited aggressors, “Castle Doctrine” jurisdictions uniformly hold that a person unlawfully attacked by an uninvited intruder may stand their ground and use whatever force is reasonably necessary to repel the intruder.
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