Statutes of limitations set time limits for the government to bring criminal charges in a case. If the prosecution charges someone after the applicable time period has passed, the person charged can have the case dismissed.
In Maryland, felony crimes have no statutes of limitations—meaning a felony criminal case can be filed at any time. (Smallwood v. State, 51 Md. App. 463 (1986).) Most misdemeanors must be charged by the prosecutor within one year of the crime unless the law provides an exception, of which there are many (see below).
Sidenote: Decades ago, Maryland law punished certain misdemeanors with time in a penitentiary and allowed charges for these "penitentiary misdemeanors" to be filed at any time. The Maryland General Assembly has since eliminated all penitentiary misdemeanors. While the statute of limitations continues to reference them, the reference is now obsolete. (Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-106 (2020); Massey v. State, 579 A.2d 265 (Md. App. 1990).)
Below are examples of Maryland misdemeanors that fall outside the general one-year charging time limit. Keep in mind that the following is a partial list that broadly summarizes the law. You should look at the actual law for nuances and exceptions. (Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-106 (2020); Md. Code Ann. Crim. Law § 7-104 (2020).)
Statutes of limitations are confusing to say the least. The same conduct can be the basis for multiple criminal charges, meaning that more than one limitations period could apply. And because lawmakers can make changes to statutes of limitations, the time limit currently in law might not apply to a past crime. Consult a knowledgeable attorney in your area to understand how the statutes of limitations apply in a specific case.