Maryland categorizes crimes into felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are punishable by at least one year in prison. In most states, misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail. Maryland misdemeanors carry sentences as high as ten years imprisonment but are less serious crimes than felonies. Maryland does not classify its misdemeanor crimes into separate classes.
For information on felonies in Maryland, see Maryland Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Misdemeanor crimes in Maryland include:
The statute governing each misdemeanor in Maryland provides the sentence for the crime. Sentences of imprisonment for misdemeanors can be as high as ten years imprisonment and as low as ninety days or less. The court also can impose a fine for a misdemeanor in addition to or as an alternative to imprisonment. Fines for misdemeanors can range from $500 to $5,000.
Maryland law requires that a criminal prosecution begin within a certain amount of time after a crime is committed or believed to have been committed. This criminal statute of limitations limits the length of time the state can wait before filing charges against a person. The time limit for filing a misdemeanor charge in Maryland varies depending on the potential sentence for the crime. For more information on the criminal statute of limitations, see Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Maryland.
A conviction for a misdemeanor crime in Maryland can become part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A conviction for even a minor crime can hurt you when you are looking for a job, applying to rent a house or apartment, or applying for a professional license. A person convicted of misdemeanor possession of an illegal substance – even a tiny amount for personal use only – can be barred from ever receiving federal financial aid for students.
An experienced attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options, or represent you at trial. Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.