The Difference Between a Felony and Misdemeanor in Maryland


Are you facing criminal charges in Maryland?

Are you concerned because you know absolutely nothing about Maryland’s legal system?

If so, you are in the right place.  Identifying the type of crime you have been charged with, and the possible consequences you are facing for that crime, can be confusing if you are not familiar with the way Maryland’s legal system works.

The truth is, once you commit a crime, the state’s legal system begins working against you right away.  This is where knowledge about the charges against you, your rights, and possible defenses will help you get the best possible outcome when it is time for you to account for your crime.

Today, we will look at Maryland’s legal system for categorizing crimes.  In short, if you commit a crime in Maryland, you are facing either misdemeanor or felony charges, along with their respective punishments.  It is important you understand the difference between these two categories from the start, and with the help of your Maryland criminal defense attorney, decide what the best solutions for defense are.


Felony Charges in Maryland

Felony charges are serious crimes according to both the state of Maryland and the United States Federal Government.

According to Maryland law, a crime is considered a felony under common law if it involves murder, manslaughter, robbery, rape, burglary, larceny, arson, sodomy, or mayhem.  To expand on that, here are some common examples of felony charges and their possible defenses:

  • Murder. This includes first-degree murder (intent to kill), second-degree murder (lack of premeditation, though an intent to kill still exists), and felony murder (murder while committing a felony act).  There are several defense stances your Maryland felony attorney can take while defending you in court such as diminished capacity and self-defense.
  • This can include charges of robbery, armed robbery, and carjacking, all of which include some use of force or threat of force. In a robbery, theft of some sort occurs.  In addition, any theft over $1,000 is considered felony theft.  Plea deals are often offered during a robbery case.
  • This may involve first or second-degree assault or reckless endangerment charges.  There are several ways to defend yourself against assault in court including self-defense, defense of others, or mistaken identity.
  • Sexual assault. This involves the coercion of a person against their will, or non-consensual sexual touching of a person.  It is best to consult with your felony lawyer in Maryland to discuss possible defenses against sexual assault charges.
  • Using deception to gain money, property, or information is fraud.  Fraud charges are classified depending on your specific criminal actions. Proving someone has committed fraud is difficult.  Therefore, it is wise to have an experienced Maryland felony lawyer on your side if charged with fraud.
  • Drug possession with intent to sell. Possession, manufacturing, and distribution of illegal substances will get you charged with felony drug-related charges.  Worse yet, drug trafficking will yield a more severe punishment due to the quantity of drugs being distributed.  The typical defense against drug-related charges involves your Fourth Amendment right protecting you against unlawful “search and seizures”.  The decriminalizing of marijuana possession in some instances has not decriminalized the selling of it and other illicit drugs for profit.

Punishment for felonies varied depending on the crime committed.  However, those convicted of felony crimes in Maryland face prison time, fines, and the loss of several civil rights such as the right to vote, join the armed forces, or hold public office.


Misdemeanor Charges in Maryland

Misdemeanors are criminal acts that are considered less serious according to Maryland and federal law codes.  They are generally punishable by no more than 18 months in prison, though in Maryland some misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, despite being less serious than felony crimes.

Examples of misdemeanors in Maryland include:

  • Theft under $1,000. If the total value of items stolen equates to less than $1,000, you will be charged with misdemeanor theft rather than felony theft.
  • Drunk driving (DUI/DWI). Charges related to DUI/DWI include driving while impaired by, or under the influence of, alcohol of other controlled substances.  There are many factors your Maryland misdemeanor attorney will take into consideration when developing a defense for you against DUI/DWI charges.  There are also implications for your license, so your attorney can advise you as to any MVA administrative penalties.
  • Reckless driving and other traffic violations. Any time you receive a traffic ticket it is a good idea to enlist the help of your misdemeanor attorney in an attempt to avoid receiving fines, demerit points, or worse, actual jail time.
  • Any destruction of private or public property may yield misdemeanor charges requiring the help of your misdemeanor lawyer.
  • Minor drug charges. If the amount of controlled substances you possessed, manufactured, or distributed, fall below the felony level, you will instead be charged with a misdemeanor and face a less serious punishment.
  • Second-degree assault. If the assault you commit does not fall within the requirements to constitute a first-degree assault, you face misdemeanor second assault charges instead.  This is where an experienced attorney will be able to help you.  Determining the facts forming the basis of your assault charges and possible defenses to first degree assault are crucial.


Typically, misdemeanor charges carry probation, suspended sentences or minimal jail sentences and possibly fines and restitution to the victim, depending on the type of crime committed.  However, these crimes are not to be dismissed as having no impact on your daily life, because they do.

If you are in the Maryland area and are in need of a felony or misdemeanor attorney to handle your criminal charges, contact Dilip Paliath, Esq. today.  Offering a full range of legal services that include defending you against both felony and misdemeanor criminal charges, Dilip Paliath, Esq. has the knowledge and experience to get you the best resolution possible.

Regardless of how complex your charges are and no matter the seriousness of the consequences, you can rest assured Dilip Paliath, Esq. will remain dedicated to your case and maximize the outcome so that you can resume normal life again very quickly.


Dilip Paliath, Esq.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *