Criminal Law in Maryland
The bottom line of this article is that it’s imperative that you consult with a Maryland criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested in a Maryland crime.
We’ll go ahead and provide you with helpful general educational information about Maryland criminal law; however each criminal case is unique. Your individual situation must be fully analyzed by a criminal defense lawyer to determine the best strategy for an effective defense.
In this Maryland specific article, we’ll discuss:
- Maryland criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in Maryland; and
- How to work with your Maryland criminal defense attorney.
Maryland Criminal Laws
Criminal law designates certain actions or inactions as crimes to uphold society, prevent criminal behavior, and sentence those who commit crimes.
Maryland criminal laws are found in the Maryland Code of Criminal Law (Title 7). There are hundreds of crimes listed in the Maryland Code, including drug possession, cruelty to animals, elder abuse, credit card crimes, incest, bigamy, trespass, arson, lewdness, indecent exposure, DUI, computer stalking, domestic abuse, perjury, kidnapping, defamation, theft, shoplifting, criminal mischief, and indecent exposure.
Statute of Limitations
In general, criminal charges must be filed against you within a certain period of time or be forever barred. However, Maryland felony crimes have no time limit. (Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code В§5-106).
For example, in Maryland, the statute of limitations for felony crimes is unlimited. This includes murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, receiving stolen property, assault, burglary, and arson.
If a misdemeanor is punishable by jail time, there is no statute of limitations. If jail time is not a possible sentence, the statute of limitation is 1 year.
Punishment such as community service, fines, restitution, jail, and capital punishment are used to deter future criminal behavior, provide restitution, protect society, and encourage rehabilitation.
Maryland has a criminal Sentencing Guideline Manual that provides a chart of standard punishments. Judges base punishment on the manual as well as that totality of the circumstances. They analyze:
- What is the previous criminal history of the individual convicted?
- What are the circumstances surrounding the crime?
- Was violence part of the crime?
- How serious is the victim’s injury?
- Where any other additional criminal offenses were committed?
Here is a sampling of maximum sentences from the Maryland Sentencing Guidelines Manual:
- Child Abuse and Death are punishable by up to 30 years in jail.
- Cruelty Against Animals is punishable by up to 3 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
- Arson is punishable by up to 30 years in jail and a $50,000 fine.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
Your life, liberty, and money – your entire future – may be at risk. If you have been arrested for a crime in Maryland, seek legal counsel.
- Attorneys are not all the same. You need a qualified Maryland criminal defense lawyer and you need one immediately.
- What you say to your attorney is confidential. You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney. Lying or leaving facts out may land you in jail.
- What you say can and will be used against you. Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney.
How to Work with a Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer
Your defense depends upon your cooperation, good sense, and patience.
- You’re paying for legal advice. Take all advice proffered by your attorney.
- Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it. Tell your defense attorney exactly what happened.
- Return phone calls promptly.
- Provide all requested information in a timely manner.
- Make sure the criminal defense law office has your current address and phone number.
- Your attorney may ask you hard questions or make you angry. This is normal and an important part of the development of your defense. If your defense attorney says something or asks something, it’s important.
- Your attorney will likely be polite and cooperative with police officers, witnesses, the alleged victims, investigators, and the prosecutor. This is normal, professional, and an important part of the development of your defense
Bottom Line: Qualified criminal defense attorneys know criminal law, understand the criminal charges against you, and know how to best put forward a strong and strategic defense. Ask the bar association or friends for referrals or simply Google, “How to find a Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney.” Do not hesitate.