No one wants to be in a position where they need a lawyer, but sometimes it becomes unavoidable. Situations can escalate suddenly and before you know it, the police have been called and criminal charges have been filed. Then it can be difficult to know what to do next. That is where an experienced Montgomery County criminal lawyer can help.
Attorneys who understand both criminal law and the procedures involved can explain the charges and outline the steps to take to work toward the best outcome. Your experienced defense attorney serves as your advocate, working for you and standing with you during the entire process.
Overview of Criminal Law
In Maryland, a wide variety of crimes are defined in the state statutes. While many are in a section of laws referred to as the Criminal Code, others may be found elsewhere, such as articles dealing with transportation.
Generally, the more serious crimes are considered felonies and the less serious crimes are misdemeanors, although Maryland statutes do not use these terms to describe every criminal violation.
The definition of each crime includes certain elements that the prosecutor must prove in order to gain a conviction. Sometimes, the prosecutor must prove that an action was undertaken with a certain motive or knowledge that the act was wrong.
That state of mind may be inferred from the circumstances involved. So, it is important to be certain that the facts of a case are investigated fully and presented fairly.
Most of the time, crimes defined as misdemeanors are those punishable by no more than one year is jail. Some examples of misdemeanors under Maryland law include:
- Possession of marijuana or other illegal drugs
- DWI or DUI (first offense)
- Theft of property worth less than $1,000
- Second-degree assault
The maximum penalty for each crime is generally included in the statute describing that offense.
For example, Section 7-104(g)(2) of the Maryland Criminal Code specifies that the penalty for theft of property worth less than $1,000 is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $500 unless the property is worth less than $100, in which case the maximum jail sentence is reduced to 90 days.
In addition, the statute requires an individual convicted of a violation to either restore the stolen property or pay the owner the value of that property.
Crimes defined as felonies are more severe and include most crimes involving violence against an individual. For instance, theft of property is a misdemeanor if the value of the property is not high.
However, if that same property is in the possession of another person or close to that person and is taken by the use of force or the threat of force, the taking of the property becomes robbery rather than theft, and the violence escalates the crime to a serious felony.
Other felonies include:
- Murder or Manslaughter
- Theft of property worth more than $1,000
- First-degree assault
- Second or subsequent DUI offenses
- Sexual assault
Penalties for felony violations include lengthy prison sentences, substantial fines, and the stigma of a felony conviction which can limit opportunities for employment and housing. A Montgomery County criminal lawyer can help individuals mitigate potential penalties for criminal charges they may face.
Consult a Montgomery County Criminal Lawyer
The procedures involved in criminal cases can be confusing and complex. A Montgomery County criminal lawyer with experience with local courts can explain the process in detail to make the ordeal less stressful.
Knowing the intricacies of the law and how the laws apply to the facts of your case, your criminal attorney will be able to build the best defense and work toward the most advantageous resolution of your case.