Maryland Criminal Statute of Limitations

Learn how long Maryland prosecutors have to file criminal charges in a case.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated February 02, 2024

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.

Maryland's Statute of Limitations for Felonies and Misdemeanors

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.

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 (2024); Md. Code Crim. Law § 7-104 (2024).)

Misdemeanor Crimes Against Vulnerable Persons

  • Abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult: 2 years after the crime
  • Sex offense by someone in a position of authority if the victim was a minor: 3 years after the crime

Misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence

  • Operating a motor vehicle or vessel under the influence: 3 years after the crime

Misdemeanor Theft, Fraud, and Forgery

  • Theft (value of property less than $1,500): 2 years after the crime
  • Fundraising or charitable solicitations fraud: 3 years after the crime
  • Straw sales of firearms: 3 years after the crime
  • Computer crimes: 3 years after the crime

Misdemeanor Government-Related Theft or Fraud

  • Public ethics violation: 2 years after the crime
  • Misconduct of public official: 2 years after the crime
  • Election crimes: 4 years after the crime
  • Tax violation: 3 years after the crime
  • Unlawfully using or fraud in applying for a driver's license: 2 years after the crime

Time to Talk to a Lawyer

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.

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