When someone is accused of a crime, they are charged based on the severity of the crime committed. The two most common categories of crimes are felonies and misdemeanors, and they carry different weights in courts of law. For people who are unfamiliar with the criminal justice system in the state of Maryland, being charged with a crime can be confusing, frustrating, and stressful, and it can leave result in a permanent mark on your record.
If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime in Maryland, you need an experienced attorney who is familiar with Maryland’s criminal law system to represent you. At Patriots Law Group, we are committed to finding the best possible resolution for our clients, and helping to navigate the confusing territory of Maryland’s legal system.
What is a misdemeanor?
Less serious crimes are typically considered misdemeanors. A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by less than 12 months of jail time, and people who are charged with misdemeanors are more commonly punished with fines, probation, or community service. Examples of a misdemeanor might include:
- Certain traffic violations, like drunk or reckless driving
- Minor drug charges
- Second-degree assault
- Destruction of property
Most misdemeanors are handled with lesser sentences, like fines or community service, but in some cases misdemeanors can carry up to 10 years in prison.
What is a felony?
Felonies are much more serious crimes, punishable by more than a year in prison, or in some cases, punishable by death. (Capital punishment was abolished in Maryland in 2013 and Washington, D.C. in 1981, but is still active in Virginia today.) Maryland considers any of the following to be felonies:
- Mayhem (dismemberment or maiming)
What about petty crimes, infractions, and violations?
Violations, infractions, and “petty” crimes all refer to crimes that are typically punishable by fines, but not jail time. These can include things like traffic tickets, littering, and jaywalking. Some states consider infractions as separate, lesser charges from misdemeanors and felonies, but Maryland law decrees, “If a crime is not a felony, then it is a misdemeanor.”
What does it mean to be an “accessory” to a crime?
If someone helps or contributes to a felony (through planning, encouragement, or other assistance), or actively helps hide evidence of that felony, then they are considered an accessory to the crime and can be charged as such. Under Maryland law, someone who is convicted of being an accessory after the fact is considered guilty of the felony in question, and can be punished with up to five years in jail (or whatever punishment is provided by law for the felony).
Misdemeanor, felony, accessory, or infraction – no matter the potential charge, you need an attorney experienced in criminal law to represent you. At Patriots Law Group, we have experienced criminal defense attorneys who will fight to get you the best outcome possible so that you can continue living your life without a permanent infraction on your record. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges in Maryland, contact us at (301) 952-9000 to schedule a consultation.