Annapolis Criminal Attorney
Maryland criminal courts can be quite intimidating regardless of whether you are accused of a crime for the first time, have previous charges on your record, or learn that you are the subject of a serious criminal investigation. Criminal matters can become especially complicated in Annapolis, Maryland, as it is home to the United States Naval Academy and federal property. Maryland’s criminal statutes are complex, but an Annapolis criminal lawyer can help guide you through the system should you be accused of committing a criminal offense. There are two types of crimes: misdemeanors and felonies. Being convicted of either type of offense can lead to a criminal record, jail time, expensive fines, and even impact your constitutional rights.
Criminal Attorneys Can Represent You In These Annapolis Courts
Most Maryland criminal charges are argued in state courts. There is a court of appeals, a court of special appeals, a circuit court, and a district court located in Annapolis. Circuit courts hear serious criminal cases, including juvenile, orphan, and family-related legal matters. They also hear domestic violence cases. Cases in circuit court usually involve juries, but are sometimes heard by only a judge. Cases that are heard in district court include traffic and boating violations, misdemeanors and some felonies, and minor theft item recovery or restitution. District Court cases are only argued before a judge; there are no jury trials in district court.
Common Criminal Charges in Annapolis
DUI & DWI
According to Maryland laws, anyone who is driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher or appears to be under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs could be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). If the driver is under 21 years of age, they can be charged if they blow a BAC as low as .02 percent. A driver can be charged with driving while impaired (DWI) even if their BAC is within the legal range if they exhibit signs of impairment.
Drunk driving offenses are taken very seriously and the impact of a conviction on your life extends far beyond a simple fine. It is possible to lose your driver’s license before you even appear for trial if you are accused of DUI. Penalties upon conviction range from two months in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense, to four years of incarceration and up to a $4,000 fine. If the alleged offense causes an accident that seriously kills or injures someone, vehicular manslaughter or attempted vehicular manslaughter could be added to the DWI/DUI charge. DUI cases can be unique, and it is important to consult with an Annapolis criminal lawyer who has experience handling DUI and DWI cases in Maryland.
Illegal substances in Maryland are broken up into Schedules based on the probability of abuse or addiction and the amount of medical value they have. There are five Schedules, with the substances in Schedule I being the most addictive with no accepted medical use, such as heroin, and the drugs in Schedule V having the least likelihood for addiction and some medical applications. The penalties for a drug offense will depend on the type of drug involved and the quantity. Convictions for a drug-related crime can range from probation on a first offense of possession of a minimally threatening substance all the way up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $25,000 for a first offense of possessing heroin. Having multiple offenses on your record can lead to more serious penalties.
Judges have great latitude at sentencing, though they normally follow state-recommended guidelines for the offenses in question. If other crimes such as weapons charges are folded into these cases, those may add to the penalty. If you have questions about how gun crimes may be folded into your case, contact an Annapolis criminal lawyer.
A Maryland assault charge could be intentional or reckless (where the defendant displays disregard of the serious risks to the victim), but it may also be implied if there is the threat of bodily harm (even if the accused did not make physical contact with or injure the victim). There are three felony levels of assault: first degree, second degree, and aggravated assault, on top of misdemeanor assault. Penalties become more severe depending on whether a weapon was used by the accused, how severely the victim was injured, or if a law enforcement officer was the victim. Penalties range from probation and a small fine for a misdemeanor charge to 25 years in prison for first degree assault.
Any gun charge is a serious offense. The penalty for a first offense of illegally carrying a firearm in Maryland includes a fine of $250 to $2,500 and anywhere from 30 days to three years in prison. Repeat offenders could face penalties that include a prison term of three to 10 years and a fine of $250 to $2,500. The penalty can become even more severe if an individual is convicted of carrying a weapon on school property, carrying a gun while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or committing robbery or theft with a gun.
There is a wide variety of sex offenses listed in Maryland’s criminal code, all of which are accompanied by serious penalties that can have life-long impacts. One of the more serious consequences of a sex crime conviction is that the individual would be listed in the Maryland Sex Offender Registry. Some sex offenses in Maryland include:
- Sexual assault
- Child sexual abuse
Penalties can include a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail for minor sex offenses all the way up to life in prison with no possibility of parole for rape of a victim under age 16.
Domestic violence is typically characterized by abuse between family or household members. The severity of the charges determines whether they are argued before a jury in circuit court (felonies), or a judge in district court (misdemeanors). A criminal lawyer in Annapolis can further explain the differences between the two. Felonies generally fall into three categories:
- First degree domestic violence – classified as causing “serious physical injury” and carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and possible community service hours, substantial fines, probation, and more.
- Second degree domestic violence – can result in a prison term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $2,500, among other penalties.
- Domestic violence against a minor – Can be either felony first degree child abuse with a maximum sentence of 30 years in the state penitentiary if the injuries are severe, or second degree child abuse with a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
The most frequent traffic-related violations include:
- Driving while suspended or revoked – Sentences include up to a year in jail for a first offense and up to three years for subsequent convictions.
- Speeding – The penalty for a speeding ticket depends on how fast you were traveling and the amount of the fine is at the discretion of the judge. Fine amounts can be as little as a few hundred dollars up to several thousand depending on the circumstances and whether you have previous speeding convictions.
- Reckless Driving – Examples include: racing, failing to use turn signals, passing a school bus, driving with faulty brakes, and passing an emergency vehicle. Fines are computed similarly to speeding tickets and depend on the variables of your particular case.
An Annapolis criminal lawyer can help you handle the criminal proceedings in traffic cases as well as the MVA administrative hearings to protect your driving privileges.
Theft involves the taking of property from the original owner without consent. Penalties for theft depend on the value of the item stolen and can become more severe if there was violence involved in the offense. Misdemeanor theft cases are heard in district court while felonies are handled in circuit court. Penalties range from probation for a first-time offense to a fine of up to $25,000 plus up to 25 years in prison if the value of the stolen property is over $100,000. The accused may also be forced to pay restitution to the victim of theft.
Most of these cases are state cases, unless the crime was committed on federal property. State offenses can include first or second degree murder, manslaughter, and second degree (involuntary) manslaughter. Penalties depend on the circumstances of the crime and can range from death or life imprisonment for first degree murder to 30 years imprisonment for second degree murder. Manslaughter – voluntary or involuntary – can carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Contact a Skilled Annapolis Criminal Lawyer
With such harsh penalties associated with a conviction, facing any type of criminal charge is a stressful experience and should not be handled alone. If you have been accused of an offense in this part of Maryland, experienced Annapolis criminal lawyer Seth Okin can advise you as to your options for building a solid defense and help protect you from the potential negative impact a conviction would have on your life. Contact his law office today for a free consultation.