If you have been accused of or arrested for a crime in Maryland it helps to understand the legal process that you will be facing in order to prepare sufficiently. In addition, knowing the potential penalties you may face and the specifics of the charge are instrumental in developing defense strategies that can help avoid conviction or minimize the impact. With these things in mind, a Montgomery County criminal lawyer is a valuable asset for anyone going through a the judicial process and can help you protect your rights while also advocating on your behalf. To learn more or to begin building a defense, call and schedule a consultation today.
Types of Criminal Offenses
States, including Maryland, typically divide criminal offenses into two categories: misdemeanor offenses or felony offenses. In general, misdemeanors are considered less serious offenses, and a felony classification is reserved for more serious crimes.
Just because a crime is misdemeanor or “not as bad” as a felony does not mean a conviction does not hold serious consequences. This is particularly true in Maryland, where the dividing line between misdemeanors and felonies is less clear and pronounced than in other states.
Many states use the term “misdemeanor” to refer to crimes that are punishable by one year or less in county jail. In these states, felonies refer to crimes that are punishable by one year or more in jail. Not so in Maryland.
In the state of Maryland, there are several misdemeanor charges that would be considered felonies in other states, and that carry the potential for years in prison upon conviction. For example, Second Degree Assault is a misdemeanor under Maryland law, but it carries a potential sentence of 10 years in prison and therefore requires the attention of an experienced Montgomery County criminal lawyer.
Maryland misdemeanors include the following:
- Assault in the Second Degree
- Drug Possession
- Speeding Tickets
- Theft under $1,000
- Gun Crimes
Felonies include more serious violations of the above offenses. For example, theft becomes a felony when the value of the property involved is $1,000 or greater. If an assault causes serious physical injury, it can be considered First Degree Assault—a felony.
Other Maryland felonies include the following:
- First Degree Rape, and other sex offenses
- Drug Distribution
Do not make the mistake of thinking a charge is not serious based on its classification as a misdemeanor. Whether a person has been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, it is important to launch an appropriate and diligent defense with the help of a criminal lawyer in Montgomery County.
Maryland Criminal Courts
If a person is charged with a crime in Maryland, the court location in which his or her case will be heard depends upon the location of the alleged offense and the type of charge he or she is facing. The Montgomery County District Court handles misdemeanor cases and certain felony cases. However, the District Court does not handle jury trials.
Serious felony cases and those involving a jury trial are handled by the Montgomery County Circuit Court. The Montgomery County Circuit Court is located in Rockville, MD. The District Court has locations in Rockville and Silver Spring.
Your Montgomery County criminal attorney should keep you apprised of all upcoming court dates and let you know when and where you are scheduled to appear.
To discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer, call today to schedule a confidential, risk-free consultation.