Maryland Sentencing Guidelines: The Complete Guide

The Sentencing Guidelines are designed to encourage uniform sentencing practices among judges overseeing criminal cases. Learn more here.

What Are the Maryland Sentencing Guidelines?


According to statistics from the Maryland Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, in 2019, a total of 178,890 arrests were made by law enforcement agencies in Maryland. A person arrested and charged with a crime in Maryland if found guilty, may be sentenced to imprisonment in the local department of corrections or state prison. However, in order to ensure uniform sentencing across the state, judges overseeing criminal cases will utilize the MD Sentencing Guidelines.

The MD Sentencing Guidelines are designed to help judges throughout the state ensure fair and uniform sentencing for defendants found guilty of committing a crime. The purpose of the MD Sentencing Guidelines is to guide judges and help them determine uniform punishment for similar offenses regardless of the court. Whether an offender is facing criminal charges in the lower Eastern Shore or the westernmost end of Maryland, the Sentencing Guidelines will help ensure that their sentencing will be uniform if found guilty.

Need More Information on MD Sentencing Guidelines? Reach Out to Our Law Firm! 

At Scrofano Law, we are dedicated to offering comprehensive legal guidance and aggressive representation to clients facing criminal allegations. As experienced Maryland criminal defense attorneys, we will investigate the facts of your case, explore your possible legal defenses, and craft an effective defense strategy to maximize a favorable outcome for your personal situation. Attorney Paolo Gnocchi will fight vigorously on your behalf to defend your rights and ensure that you get the fair treatment you are entitled to under the law.

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime or if you’re under investigation for an offense, it is crucial that you retain a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense lawyer immediately to build your defense. Attorney Paolo Gnocchi and the Scrofano Law team will strategize an effective defense for your case and refute the allegations against you with substantial evidence. Reach out to our firm today to schedule a one-on-one case evaluation.

History & Basics of Sentencing Guidelines in Maryland


The concept of sentencing guidelines was introduced in Maryland by the judiciary in the late 1970s. The committee analyzed past cases, historical sentencing practices, as well as a survey from trial judges in the state, to develop the MD Sentencing Guidelines now used today. It is reviewed and updated regularly.

The sentencing guidelines’ goal was to increase sentencing equity and resolve a problem in the criminal justice system. But, it was also an attempt to increase understanding of the sentencing process.

Furthermore, sentencing guidelines in Maryland will take into account the crime and the characteristics or conduct of the offender to determine the ideal sentencing. Today, the sentencing guidelines in Maryland cover certain circuit court cases. They also provide suggested ranges of sentences for three categories, including person offenses, property offenses, and drug offenses. Each offense category comprises different matrices and cells that recommend the ranges of sentencing.

However, it is important to understand that the MD Sentencing Guidelines are not compulsory but only advisory. Pursuant to Maryland Code Criminal Procedure section 6-216, the circuit courts shall consider the sentencing guidelines:

  • For ordinary sentences in deciding on the proper sentence.
  • For corrections options in deciding whether to sentence a defendant to a corrections options program or to impose an ordinary sentence.

The sentencing guidelines are advisory, and judges may, at their discretion, impose a sentence outside the guidelines.

MD Sentencing Guidelines Offense Table

The Sentencing Guidelines offense table contains a table of guidelines offenses, including their Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) code, seriousness category, statutory source, and possible penalties. The tables show a uniform policy for sentencing defendants convicted of misdemeanors or felonies in circuit courts across Maryland.

Using the MD Sentencing Guidelines Offense Table, defendants can understand the charges filed against them as well as the mandatory minimum and statutory maximum jail time. With this, your criminal defense attorney can help prepare your case diligently and improve your chances of the best possible outcome. You can check out the MD Sentencing Guidelines offense table here.


MD Sentencing Guidelines Calculator

The Sentencing Guidelines Calculator tool is a stand-alone tool that any person can use (usually judges) to calculate sample sentencing guidelines. Users who want to calculate the sentencing guidelines can use the calculator tool as an alternative to filling out the paper worksheet manually.

The user is allowed to print a copy of the MD sample sentencing guidelines worksheet. Instructions for using the sentencing guidelines worksheet include computation of the offense and the offender scores. The offender score is based on the seriousness of the offense the individual is convicted of, whether any weapon was used, as well as a potential special vulnerability of the victim. Juvenile delinquency, prior criminal record, and any probation violations are also taken into consideration.

Keep in mind, however, that the sentencing guidelines worksheets cannot substitute the services of an attorney, so we encourage you to contact our office for more information on your potential sentence as well as your defense options.

MD Sentencing Guidelines Manual

The MD Sentencing Guidelines Manual (MSGM) covers several criminal cases that originate in Circuit Courts across the state. The purpose of the Maryland Sentencing Guidelines Manual is to:

  • Increase uniformity in sentencing while mitigating unnecessary disparity.
  • Establish an explicit sentencing policy while making it possible to review and change the policy from time-to-time.
  • Provide detailed information for new or rotating judges.
  • Promote increased transparency and help the general public understand the sentencing process.

The guidelines within this manual are regularly monitored and updated by the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy, which is an independent agency designed to promote fair and proportional sentencing policy. However, a defendant accused of committing criminal acts may still face disparities when navigating the court system, so it’s important to stay vigilant and explore all of your defense options.


Sentencing Guidelines Chart

In every criminal case, the Maryland judiciary uses a point system to determine or weigh different factors.

Each crime is allocated a different weight depending on its severity. For this reason, a first-degree assault will receive a higher point than a second-degree assault. Also, the defendant’s criminal history, background, and other surrounding circumstances may be considered when allocating points or weight to an offense for sentencing.

How the Sentencing Guidelines in Maryland Are Applied

As mentioned earlier, MD sentencing guidelines are not rules. They are just a guide to help judges remain uniform throughout the state when sentencing defendants for crimes.

The sentencing guidelines in Maryland are established for the Circuit Court Judges. Regardless, the judges are not mandated to follow the sentencing guidelines without deviation. This is one of many reasons it’s so vital to seek representation from a reputable criminal defense attorney who can skillfully defend you against the allegations.


Work With an Experienced Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney

The MD Sentencing Guidelines are a crucial part of the sentencing process. However, there are still other factors that determine what happens to a defendant or the possible punishment for a crime. This is why it is paramount to retain a highly-skilled and aggressive Maryland criminal defense attorney when facing criminal charges to protect your rights and outline your defense strategy.

If you’re facing criminal charges, you don’t have to go through this alone. Contact our office today to schedule a case assessment. Attorney Paolo Gnocchi and the Scrofano Law team will review your case, fight vigorously to protect your rights, and dispute the allegations against you with substantial pieces of evidence. Our firm is proud to serve clients in Bethesda, Bowie, College Park, Clinton, Fort Washington, Gaithersburg, Rockville, Silver Spring, and other communities throughout the state of Maryland.

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