When you’re facing a criminal charge like theft, assault, or reckless endangerment, you need a Maryland criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Charges like these could lead to a significant period of incarceration that disrupts your entire life.
If you need help understanding Maryland law or fighting criminal charges in Maryland, we’re here to help. Below, the team at Zirkin & Schmerling Law answers common questions about a range of criminal offenses and how a criminal lawyer could help you resolve your legal issue.
For more information about your specific criminal case and have been charged with a crime, please call us 24/7 at 410-753-4611 or schedule your free consultation online.
Criminal Law FAQ
There is often confusion surrounding whether a person is legally obligated to provide assistance to others in various situations. Generally speaking, you are not legally required to come to someone’s rescue when they’re in danger. However, there are some notable exceptions.
If you are the one who put someone in danger, it is your legal obligation to prevent them from harm. Also, if you begin to help someone, you could be legally bound to complete the rescue and if you stop, you may face legal consequences. And if you have a special relationship with the person, like being their teacher or babysitter, you might have more obligation to protect them.
In some situations, self-defense is a viable defense in Maryland. You can use this defense as long as you weren’t the aggressor or didn’t bring the fight to the level of deadly force. You must have believed you were in immediate danger, the danger must have been reasonable, and you can’t have used more force than necessary to defend yourself from harm.
However, it’s very difficult to claim self-defense without the help of an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer. The state will attempt to pick apart your story and if they can show that at least one of the points above wasn’t true in your case, you could be found guilty.
A theft charge in Maryland has two main elements. The state must show that you took or possessed property that belonged to someone else and that you intended to permanently deprive its owner of it. From there, Maryland has a variety of theft-related charges you may face, like shoplifting, unauthorized removal of property, unauthorized control of property by deception, writing a bad check, fraud, or embezzlement.
Possessing something that is stolen or illegal, even if you didn’t steal it, is also a crime and is usually prosecuted just as severely as if you’d stolen it yourself. The same goes for keeping something that was given or delivered to you by mistake, which can bring criminal charges.
Since the Maryland state legislature enacted Alex and Calvin’s Law in 2016, the penalty for adults who provide alcohol to those under age 21 increased from a $5,000 fine to one year in jail. This means an adult who holds an underage drinking party can potentially face jail time for their role in providing alcohol to those who are underage.
If you are facing consequences for hosting an underage drinking party, get good legal representation immediately. The state of Maryland takes these cases extremely seriously and assigns tough consequences for adults who contribute to underage drinking.
In Maryland, reckless endangerment involves causing someone else a substantial risk of severe bodily harm or death. There are numerous situations where reckless endangerment charges may apply, so each case is evaluated individually based on the circumstances.
Reckless endangerment charges can arise from things like inciting violence, throwing an object into a crowd, using explosives or firearms, tampering with safety equipment, or even doing something in traffic that poses harm to others on the road. Take reckless endangerment charges seriously because they could result in a $5,000 fine and/or 5 years in prison.
You might be able to fight reckless endangerment charges by claiming self-defense, but it can be difficult to prove without a lawyer’s help. Your attorney may argue that you were merely responding to someone else’s reckless conduct or that you were defending yourself in a situation involving a violent crime.
Another route is demanding a bill of particulars, which involves compelling the prosecutor to list specific details which are difficult to prove about the alleged crime. This can sometimes lead to your charges being dropped, which is a huge relief.
Maryland has two levels of assault charges. First-degree assault is a felony with a maximum sentence of 25 years of incarceration. This charge is reserved for the most severe situations where someone has caused serious bodily injury to someone else.
Second-degree assault is a misdemeanor and involves causing or attempting “offensive physical contact.” Don’t make the mistake of thinking a second-degree assault charge isn’t serious just because it’s a misdemeanor. You can still face a maximum sentence of 10 years for this crime.
Have a Legal Question? We Have Answers
The team at Zirkin & Schmerling Law has been handling Criminal law court cases for decades and has a track record of working diligently for Maryland families. For more assistance, please call us 24/7 at 410-356-4455 or schedule your free consultation online with one of our experienced criminal lawyers today.