In Maryland, crimes are divided into two categories: misdemeanor offenses and felony offenses. A felony is far more serious of the two, and a conviction can lead to a lengthy imprisonment, fines, and probation, as well as collateral consequences. In short, having a permanent record as a convicted felon is life-altering in so many ways. When your future is hanging in the balance, you need a tenacious criminal defense attorney in your corner.
The Law Office of Asher Weinberg designs innovative criminal defense strategies for clients throughout the state of Maryland. If you have been charged with a felony, I presume that you are innocent and know that prosecutors must be able to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. By understanding the facts and legal issues involved in your case, I will choose the best line of defense and fight tirelessly to protect your rights.
Felony Classifications in Maryland
Unlike other states, Maryland does not divide felonies into classifications. Instead, the applicable law establishes specific penalties for different types of felonies. In any event, common felony offenses include:
- First-degree assault — Intentionally causing or attempting to cause serious physical injury to another, or using a firearm during the commission of the crime, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. “Serious physical injury” involves an assault that causes a substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, or loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
- Burglary — Entering or remaining in a residence, structure or other enclosed property, through the use of force, with the intent to commit a crime, a theft, violence or arson. Can be charged as burglary in the first, second, third, or fourth-degree, depending on the circumstances and punishment ranges from 3 to 20 years in prison.
- Robbery — The taking of, or attempt to take, money or property from another person through the use of force or putting the victim in fear of danger or harm, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If the offense involves the use of a dangerous weapon (e.g. a gun, knife, or any type of instrument that can cause death or serious bodily harm), the charge is elevated to armed robbery.
- Felony Theft — The taking of property or services, valued at least $1,000 but less than $10,000, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both, and restitution to the victim. The penalties are elevated based on the value of the property (up to 25 years in prison and a $25,000 fine).
- Drug trafficking — The illegal production and distribution of controlled substances, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, or fentanyl. Penalties are elevated if an aggravating factor is involved (e.g. possession of a weapon, a prior drug conviction).
- Sexual assault — Any sexual activity forced on a victim without his or her consent (inappropriate touching, forced penetration, sexual intercourse or kissing).
- Murder — The intentional killing of another person, charged as a murder in the first-degree if premeditation is involved, murder in the second-degree if there is intent, but no premeditation (killing someone in the heat of an argument) or felony murder, killing an individual while committing a felony crime, such as a robbery.
Sentencing Guidelines in Maryland
The Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy (MSCCSP) was established by the state legislature to adopt and oversee voluntary sentencing guidelines for criminal cases prosecuted in circuit court. The guidelines are based on data collected from sentencing guideline worksheets.
The MSCCP monitors circuit court sentencing practices and implements changes to the sentencing guidelines when necessary. Although the guidelines are voluntary, they weigh heavily in determining sentences for primary offenses, additional offenses, and repeated offenses.
Factors involved in the sentencing recommendations include the nature of the crime, injuries sustained by the victim(s), whether the crime involves the use of a dangerous weapon and prior serious felonies. It bears noting that two or more felony convictions subject defendants (deemed violent career criminals or habitual felony offenders) to Maryland’s “three strikes” law which will lead to a mandatory prison sentence.
Collateral Consequences of a Felony Conviction
In addition to a prison sentence, fines, probation, and restitution, being convicted of a felony means having a permanent criminal record, which will harm your reputation. This can make it difficult to obtain a professional license, rent a home, obtain a federal student loan, or other government benefits. You will also forfeit some of your civil rights, such as the right to vote or to possess a firearm.
Contact Our Silver Spring Felony Defense Lawyer
If you are facing felony charges in Maryland, you may have many concerns. Will I go to prison? How can I afford an attorney? What will happen to my family? I will work hard to address those concerns by providing you with aggressive, cost-effective legal representation when you need it most. My work starts as soon as you are arrested by arranging for your release at the arraignment (the initial hearing at which you are formally charged), if possible.
I will conduct a thorough investigation by identifying and interviewing witnesses, including the police, and examining all of the evidence. Above all, I will choose the best line of defense and work tirelessly to protect your rights. My office will keep you fully informed about the progress of your case, I am always available to respond to questions and promptly return phone calls.
Although I am committed to having the charges dropped or winning an acquittal, you will be encouraged to make the best decisions about your future. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to arrange for a reduction of the charges and penalties in lieu of going to trial. Above all, I will always put your best interests first. If you have been accused of a felony crime, don’t go it alone. Contact my office today so we can start building a successful defense right away.
The Law Offices of Asher Weinberg is located in Silver Spring and provides felony defense throughout Maryland including Montgomery County, Prince George County, Howard County, and Anne Arundel County.