Sometimes, even simple everyday conduct can lead to a criminal arrest. For instance, a loud argument can result in a disorderly conduct charge. A misunderstanding can lead to fraud charges. Or an action taken in self-defense can result in a charge of a violent crime such as assault.
Whatever the circumstances, a criminal charge should be taken seriously. When you work with an experienced Rockville criminal lawyer, your skilled attorney can advise you on how to proceed and can also serve as your advocate to help ensure that the facts of your case are presented in the most favorable light to bring about the best resolution.
Different Types of Crimes
In general, crimes are typically divided into two main categories, misdemeanors, and felonies. Although many states further divide these offenses into separate classes, Maryland does not, and in fact, the criminal statutes do not always specifically define particular crimes as misdemeanors or felonies.
As a rough guideline, a crime that is punishable by up to one year in jail is usually considered a misdemeanor. Felony crimes are more serious and the penalties are correspondingly more severe. A Rockville criminal lawyer can help mitigate potential penalties and individual may face.
Misdemeanors In Maryland
Although misdemeanors are not divided into different classes in Maryland, the significance of the crimes and the degree of punishment varies a great deal. Some examples of misdemeanor offenses include:
- Theft of property with a value of less than $1,000
- Second-degree assault
- Possession of marijuana or other illegal drugs
- Reckless driving or first-time DWI
Felonies in Maryland
As the more severe crimes, felonies range from violent offenses punishable by life imprisonment or even the death sentence to a less violent offense such as distribution of a controlled substance. Felonies defined under state statutes include:
- First degree or sexual assault
- Murder or Manslaughter
- Theft of property with a value over $1,000
Maryland statutes establish a range of penalties for particular offenses which generally include a term of imprisonment and a fine. For example, for the misdemeanor crime of hazing, Section 3-607 of the Maryland criminal code specifies that a violation is punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $500 or both.
Toward the opposite end of the spectrum, violent felonies such as manslaughter or second-degree rape or murder are punishable by prison sentences of 10 to 30 years. The statutes sometimes include a minimum sentence as well as a maximum. For instance, for a violation of Section 4-203 by illegally wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun, the minimum sentence for a first-time conviction includes at least 30 days in jail and a fine of at least $250.
The maximum penalty for that offense is 3 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,500. For many crimes, courts can also impose additional penalties such as community service or mandatory classes.
Value of an Attorney
With the possibility of severe penalties, a criminal charge is a matter that should be addressed right away. When you meet with a Rockville criminal lawyer, your attorney can explain the laws and how they apply to the facts of your case.
Your attorney will also review the legal procedures and decisions that need to be made during the process. A top criminal lawyer will provide the optimum defense and help you move toward the best possible outcome.