Maryland Criminal Lawyers
Have you been accused of a crime such as DUI, rape, theft, assault or drug possession? During this challenging time, you need a fully qualified Maryland criminal lawyer who can review your case, assess your situation and advise you on the best path forward. Your freedom depends on it.
A criminal defense case is very different from a civil case, where one party sues another. In a criminal case, you are going up against a powerful enforcement system of police, laws and courts. You need an attorney who can help protect your interests and who will truly fight for your rights. You need Zirkin & Schmerling.
Many Types of Criminal Charges
Under Maryland law, you can face many types of criminal charges. Some are violent crimes and some are non-violent. Some are property crimes. Some are misdemeanors, which usually involve less severe penalties, and some are felonies, which typically bring a stiffer sentence.
Examples of felonies in Maryland include murder, robbery, first-degree assault, sexual assault, burglary, fraud, theft over $1,500 and drug possession with intent to distribute.
Punishments for these crimes may range from five years in prison to a life sentence plus fines, loss of the right to vote and loss of other civil liberties. A felony conviction can also impact your ability to get a job in the future.
According to the most recent violent crime statistics from the state of Maryland, each year there are about 300 to 500 Maryland murders, 1,100 to 1,800 rapes, 10,000 to 11,000 robberies and about 130,000 instances of larceny and/or breaking and entering. Each person accused of these crimes will need to mount a criminal defense.
Even a misdemeanor can be taken very seriously by the court and the person convicted may face severe penalties. For example, although indecent exposure is considered a misdemeanor under Maryland law, someone convicted of this crime may face up to three years of incarceration and $1,000 in fines. Another example is Second Degree Assault, also a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years of incarceration and $2,500 in fines.
Zirkin & Schmerling attorneys can defend you against a wide variety of Maryland criminal charges, including:
- Child abuse and endangerment
- Disorderly conduct
- Domestic violence
- Driving on a suspended license
- Drug crimes
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Driving while impaired (DWI)
- Fraud and identity fraud
- Gaming violations
- Indecency/indecent exposure
- Public intoxication
- Sexual offenses
- Underage drinking
- Weapons crimes
Whether you are guilty or innocent, you need legal representation when you are accused of a criminal act. Under the law of the U.S. Constitution, each person is entitled to legal representation in defending themselves against criminal charges.
Your first interaction with the criminal and legal system may be during a police interview or arrest. If you are charged, this means you are being formally accused of a crime. If you are arrested, it means you are being taken into police custody.
Sometimes, a person is arrested but hasn’t yet been charged with a specific crime. The police may show up at your home or workplace to take you into custody, then you will wait in the county jail for a period of time before learning your charges.
The county prosecutor will likely review your case and decide whether you should be charged and what the charge will be. This is an extremely stressful situation – but it’s the ideal time to get help from an attorney.
This is a critical point in your life when you must be very careful what you say, what you do and who you trust. Do not take legal advice from well-meaning friends and family who may not have a complete understanding of the law. Rely only on the advice of your criminal defense lawyer from Zirkin & Schmerling.
Your attorney will help you understand your situation, clarify your charges and decide what to do next. They will also review the evidence against you and explain the details of the criminal code.
Types of Criminal Defense Cases in Maryland
When you know the charges against you, you can begin to build your criminal defense to present to the court. This process must be handled carefully because you typically only have one chance to present a carefully-developed defense that will impact your future and quite possibly your freedom.
Your Maryland defense attorney will assist you with understanding your charges and taking steps to build your case. Always consult with an attorney to be sure, and never assume that these exact charges or sentencing guidelines may apply to your specific situation. Some common types of Maryland criminal defense cases include:
When someone creates a fire with malicious and destructive intent, they may be convicted of arson in Maryland. First-degree arson is a felony that is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. You may also be convicted of second-degree arson, which can carry a 20-year sentence, or malicious burning, which can be a felony or misdemeanor and may bring a multi-year sentence.
Assault comes in two degrees and can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. In an assault case, the details of the encounter are extremely important. For example, a common defense to an assault charge is self-defense, where the defendant had to take action to evade someone else’s assault.
Child abuse, neglect and endangerment
There are many circumstances that may be considered child abuse and neglect in the state of Maryland. These include physical abuse (whether the signs are visible or not), failure to provide proper care and attention, placing a child at substantial risk of harm, impairment of a child’s ability to function and other types of abuse, neglect and endangerment. The courts take cases involving children extremely seriously, so seek the advice of an attorney immediately.
Certain behavior is prohibited in Maryland because it interferes with the public’s ability to peacefully enjoy their surroundings. Disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace may involve things like making loud noises, fighting, crowding an area, obstructing free passage, public intoxication, disrupting a sporting event or entering premises and causing a disturbance.
Maryland domestic violence law applies to abuse that occurs between family or household members. While Maryland does not have a specific Domestic Violence crime, domestic violence often involves assaults, rape and other sexual offenses and serious bodily harm. Many people don’t realize that domestic violence may also involves kidnapping, false imprisonment and stalking charges.
Driving on a suspended license
Your driver’s license may be suspended due to a Maryland traffic violation or other related violation of Maryland law. If you drive on a suspended license, this is a criminal act that may involve incarceration, additional fines and other consequences for your ability to drive legally.
All federal and Maryland state laws prohibit the illegal use and possession of many drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. While Maryland has decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana, getting charged with this civil citation can still have an impact on your private life and an attorney still should be consulted.
Drug crimes range widely from misdemeanor possession charges to felony distribution charges. There is widespread confusion about Maryland drug laws, so always consult an attorney if you are accused of a drug crime.
Driving under the influence (DUI)
This charge refers to driving under the influence of alcohol and it is a serious charge. If you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, you are considered “under the influence per se” as defined by Maryland law. When you are driving or attempting to drive with this BAC, you will be charged with DUI.
Driving while impaired (DWI)
A DWI charge is usually considered a lesser charge than a DUI. It stands for driving while impaired. The impairment may be due to alcohol, illegal drugs or even a legal prescription drug.
Extortion is a commonly misunderstood felony charge that is often related to theft/larceny. It generally refers to a crime where something is obtained by force or by threat of violence. Blackmail is perhaps the most common example of extortion, where someone threatens person with serious harm if that victim doesn’t take certain actions.
Fraud is a general term that designates crimes that involve swindling and deceiving someone to obtain a measurable benefit of monetary or personal gain. The court may find the accused made misrepresentations or initiated deceitful conduct. Related charges may include identity fraud, insurance fraud, mail fraud, securities fraud, bankruptcy fraud, tax evasion and other charges.
Most types of gambling are prohibited in Maryland, with the exception of horse racing. Raffles, bingo and contests are generally considered contests of skill and are exempt from gambling laws. If you are charged with a gambling crime like bookmaking or illegal betting, get legal representation to mount a criminal defense.
One of the most common indecency charges is indecent exposure, or the willful exposure of private parts in public and in the presence of others.
Intentional and malicious harassment after a reasonable request to stop is prohibited by Maryland law, with an exception for peaceable political protest. Although this is usually a misdemeanor crime, it may be combined with felony charges like assault.
Kidnapping/abduction is a felony in Maryland punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Other than murder, this is one of the most serious crimes someone can face in the state of Maryland. Also known as criminally negligent homicide, involuntary manslaughter may include an accidental killing where negligence was involved – for example, in a drunk driving case.
Murder in the first degree is Maryland’s most serious crime. Although Maryland abolished the death penalty in 2013, you can still serve a life prison sentence for killing someone. Murder charges may vary according to whether you planned the murder in advance, poisoned someone, acted in the heat of the moment and other specific circumstances.
Maryland obscenity law involves applying community standards to citizens’ behavior, speech, artwork and other forms of communication. You may be charged with a crime involving the distribution of obscene materials like flyers, social media posts or videos.
Prostitution is illegal in any form in Maryland. These charges may come from what is commonly called street prostitution or they may be the consequence of police raids of spas and other businesses that have faced charges of prostitution and human trafficking.
Also called drunk and disorderly, public intoxication is usually a misdemeanor under Maryland law but may come with related charges like disturbing the peace, DUI or DWI.
Rape is a serious crime that may be combined with certain aggravating circumstances that cause your punishment to be more severe, up to life imprisonment without parole. Aggravating circumstances include kidnapping, violent acts and brandishing a weapon.
This includes a wide variety of sex-related crimes, including those against children and adults. A first-degree sexual offense, including an attempted first-degree sexual offense, is eligible for life imprisonment in Maryland.
Willfully and knowingly taking or concealing objects and failing to pay for them is a type of general theft crime in Maryland.
Regardless of the type of theft crime in Maryland, they all involve depriving someone of their property and intending to do so permanently. Because these cases have so much variation, it’s important to have a Maryland criminal lawyer who can distinguish the legalities between them and help you build a case in your defense.
When you enter someone’s land without permission, you may face a trespassing charge. This is a misdemeanor in Maryland and usually carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a fine of $500, although a judge may assign one or the other of the two penalties.
Maryland has many laws related to underage drinking, including underage possession, underage consumption, underage purchasing, false identification, loss of driving privileges, furnishing alcohol to minors and minimum age for servers, sellers and bartenders.
Maryland has handgun laws and laws concerning the use of weapons in domestic violence crimes, and considers the use of a weapon an aggravating circumstance in the commission of crimes such as rape, assault and robbery. Weapons violations are very serious and you will need a qualified Maryland criminal lawyer to help you defend your case.
Types of Punishments for Criminal Convictions in Maryland
Depending on the type and severity of your crime, you may face multiple penalties if you are convicted. These may involve anything from a small fine to a lifetime prison term without the possibility of parole. Here’s a look at the types of punishments Maryland courts typically assign for criminal convictions.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor crime in Maryland, you will likely pay a fine between $500 and $5,000. You may also be required to pay restitution to someone. These costs can come in addition to, or instead of, imprisonment.
A period of incarceration for a misdemeanor crime is almost always less than that of a felony, unless the person has prior convictions that could cause a more severe penalty. Imprisonment for a misdemeanor can be as few as 10 days and as much as 20 years.
A felony conviction in Maryland may come with a fine of $500 to $15,000 or more, depending on the severity of the crime and its exact circumstances. Because felony crimes are among the most serious threats to public safety, they are subject to long periods of imprisonment.
Felony prison terms can be from one year to life without the possibility of parole. The most serious felonies are murder, which commonly bring sentences of 25 years to life.
Carjacking, first-degree rape and aggravated assault all carry sentences of 25 to 30 years. Distribution of certain drugs can also be a felony crime with a sentence of five years or more depending on the circumstances.
All Criminal Charges
It’s important to point out that all defendants in criminal cases should have proper legal representation under U.S. law.
In fact, legal representation is not only your right, it can seriously impact the success of your case and the outcome of the sentencing phase after you learn your fate. A qualified and passionate attorney will give you a voice in the courtroom and stand up for your rights.
Judges, clerks, lawyers and police are all part of a complex legal system the average person has a hard time understanding. It’s normal to struggle to understand your rights and have trouble navigating the stressful experience of facing criminal charges.
During this time, you need Zirkin & Schmerling on your side. We are compassionate lawyers who have helped thousands of Maryland residents facing criminal charges. We will always do what’s in your best interest and help you survive your legal situation.
When You’re Facing Criminal Charges
For many Maryland criminal defendants, the first moment they’re aware of their criminal charges is when they have contact with police. The officers may take time to explain your charges or they may not yet know what kind of charges you will face and detain you for additional investigation.
From this first contact and moving forward through the legal system, it’s important that you have legal representation that is professional, courteous and offers deep expertise on Maryland legal matters. If you experience difficulty with the police, jail staff and/or inside the courtroom, your case is more likely to get worse rather than better.
If you’re facing criminal charges, make the call to Zirkin & Schmerling as quickly as possible or contact us online for a free case assessment. You deserve the best legal representation in Maryland. We’re here to present your best possible criminal defense.
Defendants Commonly Involved in Maryland Criminal Cases
When the police come knocking, you may be expecting to see them or you may be completely surprised and caught off guard. Here’s a look at the common types of criminal defendants in Maryland and the charges they may face. If any of these sounds like you, a friend or a family member, reach out to Zirkin & Schmerling for a case evaluation.
What if your business was raided by the authorities and you faced allegations of prostitution, human trafficking, theft, bribery, forgery, mail fraud, identity theft or tax evasion? A business owner can be held criminally liable for certain crimes that occur related to their company.
Spouses and Domestic Partners
Each day in Maryland, an average of 956 domestic violence victims seek urgent services from assistance programs. If you are accused of domestic violence, this can quickly become a situation that spirals out of control – especially if children are involved.
During the enthusiasm and chaos of a sporting event, you may become involved in a criminal situation like disturbing the peace, public intoxication, vandalism, assault or DUI/DWI. Disorderly conduct is prohibited at Maryland sporting events.
After Maryland implemented the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016, also known as Noah’s Law, drunk driving laws became more strict. Anyone who faces a DUI or DWI charge in this state may receive a sentence of imprisonment of several months to several years, plus license suspension and mandatory use of an ignition interlock device for future driving.
Here’s a fact about the legal system: Anyone can face a criminal case. No one is above the law and you must mount a legal defense whether you are guilty or innocent. That’s why Zirkin & Schmerling is here. We assist the people of Maryland with legal issues and help them stand up for their rights no matter the circumstances.
Use These Maryland Criminal Case Resources from Zirkin & Schmerling:
Alcohol-related case information, including DUI and DWI
Assault information, including aggravated assault, attempted battery, assault and battery
Domestic violence and spousal battery resources
Drug charges including distribution or possession of any type of drug
Theft-related cases like theft, fraud, larceny, robbery, burglary, forgery, trespassing, carjacking and possession of stolen property
Traffic violations including reckless driving, failure to yield, speeding, and hit and run
Criminal Charges? We’re Here to Help.
When you’re facing criminal charges, Zirkin & Schmerling is your partner in the process. We’ll help you understand your circumstances and the exact charges you face, and we’ll represent your interests in the complex Maryland legal system.
Contact an Experienced Maryland Criminal Lawyer
In a situation that involves criminal charges, you must act fast to contact an attorney who can truly work as your advocate in the legal process. Consider these important factors:
Experience. Do they have the credentials to represent you? Are they experienced with serious criminal cases in Maryland?
Results. A good attorney will serve as your voice in the courtroom and work to protect your rights during a criminal case. Will your attorney get the best possible results and minimize the impact of this case on your life?
Reputation. The judges in criminal court demand and deserve respect, along with all authorities involved in the process. Your lawyer must have a sterling reputation for professionalism and a firm grasp of the law. How is your lawyer’s reputation?
Your future and your freedom depend on the outcome of this case. There’s only one name you should keep in mind when you’re considering experience, results and reputation for Maryland criminal cases. That name is Zirkin & Schmerling.
To learn more, please contact Zirkin & Schmerling Law today at 410-753-4611 to get in touch with a qualified, experienced criminal case attorney in Maryland. Our lawyers can provide an initial evaluation of your case entirely free of charge. We can’t erase the past, but we can give you the representation and advocacy you deserve going forward.