Maryland Criminal Code: What to Know as a Defendant

The Maryland Criminal Code is the collection of laws and statutes that define crimes, how they are adjudicated, and what the sentences for such crimes may be. Learn more here.

What is the Annotated Code of Maryland?


The Annotated Code of Maryland is the most current public record of all the laws, known as statutes, presently in effect in the state of Maryland. It is organized into 36 named articles, each regulating an area of the state’s laws, such as labor and employment, tax, business, real property, housing and community development, education, and family law.

If you are charged with a crime in Maryland, your case will likely be decided by the statutes under the code’s criminal law article. Collectively known as the Maryland Code, this set of laws defines the criminal offenses within the state and regulates the guidelines by which individuals suspected of such crimes are apprehended, charged, tried, and penalized.

Several legal resources provide access and additional information regarding the most recent version of the Maryland Code, including the Maryland State Law Library and Gateway to Maryland Law. These legal resources provide online materials, including access to the Maryland Code and Maryland Procedural Rules (otherwise known as court rules). Nevertheless, a layperson may have a hard time understanding everything that may apply in a specific criminal case.

As soon as you are arrested, you should contact a Maryland criminal defense lawyer to understand your rights under these statutes. However, understanding the basics of the Annotated Code of Maryland is important for all residents of Maryland, regardless of their criminal background. Here’s what you need to know from Maryland criminal lawyer Paolo Gnocchi of Scrofano Law PC.

Maryland Code Criminal Law Article List


Under the Annotated Code of Maryland Criminal Law Article are 14 titles, each establishing and defining the state’s statutes within a specific area of criminal law.

The following are the 14 titles under the Maryland Criminal Laws:

Each title has its own set of subtitles, further breaking down the areas of criminal law. Title 4, for example, is divided into five subtitles, each defining a specific area of weapon and gun laws in Maryland. These include General Provisions, Handguns, Assault Weapons and Detachable Magazines, the Uniform Machine Gun Act, and Destructive Devices.

Within these subtitles is where you will find the criminal statute codes. If you are charged with a crime under state law in Maryland, the court system will generally refer to the provisions of one or more of these specific laws, and your drug lawyer will use this law and other resources as a guideline for defending you against the prosecution.

Maryland Criminal Statute Codes


Passed by the Maryland State General Assembly, which is made up of the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate, Maryland’s criminal law codes recognize a large range of illegal conduct, such as theft or murder, made punishable by fines, jail or prison time, and other sanctions. Criminal laws in Maryland resemble those of other states, but the Old Line State is distinct in a variety of ways, such as its tough penalties for drug offenses.

When you have been charged with a crime in Maryland, the severity of the accusation matters. Depending on the charges and the specific circumstances surrounding your case, a crime might either be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor. While, by statute, misdemeanors are considered lower offenses than felonies, the repercussions of some misdemeanor convictions can be serious.

Common violations of Maryland criminal statute codes charged as misdemeanors include traffic offenses, DUIs, petty theft, assault, and domestic violence, while felonies can include crimes like murder, sex crimes, weapons offenses, serious drug crimes, and major theft crimes such as burglary, robbery, and carjacking.

What Is a Wobbler Crime?

However, certain crimes can be prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies. They are called wobbler offenses. These criminal offenses allow the prosecutor discretion to choose whether they will charge the defendant with a misdemeanor or a felony after their arrest. Defendant’s criminal history is often a deciding factor in this decision.

Sometimes, prosecutors offer to drop a felony charge in exchange for a plea. But, it’s not uncommon for prosecutors to overcharge the defendants in order to scare them. For example, they may charge a “wobbler” crime as a felony even though it could be a misdemeanor, even for first-time offenders.

Attorney Paolo Gnocchi has experience representing clients in each of these areas of the law and more, and she’s prepared to defend your freedom if you are facing charges for a violation of the Maryland Criminal Law Code.

Do Punishments for Misdemeanors and Felonies Deffer?

Felonies and misdemeanors were previously differentiated by their penalties, with felony offenses carrying prison sentences of more than one year and sentences of less than one year for misdemeanors.

While this holds true in most other states, it is no longer the case in Maryland, where there are now some misdemeanors that carry longer prison sentences than certain felony convictions. For instance, a second-degree assault charge is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to ten years in prison, while some drug possession charges that are categorized as felonies may carry five-year prison sentences.

Maryland Criminal Code and Statutes of Limitations


Another relevant area of the Maryland Code and Court Rules for criminal defendants are the statutes of limitations. Categorized within the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, these statutes establish a time frame in which a suspected criminal can be prosecuted for a specific type of crime. When that time limit ends, the suspect can no longer be charged with that crime.

Every state sets its own statute of limitations. Here are a few of the crimes and their time limits as specified by Maryland’s criminal law statutes of limitations:

  • Murder: no time limit
  • Misdemeanors punishable by prison time: no time limit
  • All other misdemeanors: one year
  • Crimes involving the unlawful use of a driver’s license or driver’s license application fraud: 2 years
  • Crimes of drunkenness or breaking Sabbath: 30 days
  • Manslaughter or vehicular homicide: 3 years

Statutes of limitations can be complicated. Often, there’s a basic period of limitations for a set of crimes (misdemeanors, for instance) but a more specific duration for a criminal offense within that set.

For example, there is no statute of limitations for felonies such as manslaughter, murder, rape, or unlawful homicide. However, some other felony crimes, such as manslaughter or homicide by vehicle, have a three-year statute of limitations.

The point of the statute of limitations is to make sure trials are fair and conducted based on the best evidence. Longer statutes of limitations for certain crimes under the Maryland criminal code seek to balance the seriousness of the crime with interest in fair trials.

In other circumstances, the statute of limitations might end for one offense but still leave the accused vulnerable to prosecution for another — or for prosecution in a different jurisdiction. Other timing problems can also come into play in criminal cases — for example, the right to a speedy trial.

Don’t hesitate to speak with a skilled criminal defense lawyer for more information on court rules and timing problems that may apply to your case, including how to raise a defense regarding the statute of limitations.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer About the Maryland Criminal Law Code


If you have been accused of violating the Maryland Code, your future might be in jeopardy. Maryland criminal convictions are generally available to the public. That means people can conduct a Maryland search of criminal databases and find out if someone has a criminal record.

Some offenses that appear minor at the time can have a lasting impact on your life, affecting your ability to secure a job, drive a car, and obtain housing. At the law office of Paolo Gnocchi and Scrofano Law, we will help you comprehend the potential penalties of your case so you can make an informed decision about your future.

As an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer, Paolo Gnocchi will aggressively protect your rights and explore every legal avenue available to safeguard your liberty. Her years of experience and contacts in the Maryland criminal justice system allow her to pursue the most beneficial result on behalf of each client, and she can help you, too. Contact our firm today to schedule a free initial consultation, where we will offer insight into the charges and penalties you may be facing, inform you of your rights under the law, and guide you through your options.

Frequently Asked Questions About Maryland Criminal Laws


What are the common penalties under Maryland criminal law?

Maryland’s criminal penalties vary widely depending on the severity of the offense—from fines and probation for misdemeanors to long-term imprisonment for felonies. Enhanced penalties may apply to repeat offenders, underscoring the necessity of competent legal advice.

Can I expunge a criminal record in Maryland?

Yes, Maryland law permits the expungement of certain criminal records, contingent upon the nature of the crime and the time elapsed since the conviction. Successfully expunging a record can significantly alleviate the impact of past legal troubles on an individual’s future opportunities.

What should I do if I’m arrested in Maryland?

If arrested in Maryland, it’s crucial to exercise your right to remain silent and request an attorney immediately. Avoid discussing your case with police without your lawyer present to protect your rights and potentially improve the outcome of your case.

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