Differences Between Felonies and Misdemeanors in Maryland

There are two categories for criminal offenses in Maryland, felonies and misdemeanors.  It’s generally known that misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, but in Maryland, some misdemeanors can carry longer jail sentences than felonies.  Here we’ll explain why the difference matters, why there’s confusion between the two, how to identify each, and how you can best protect yourself from these charges. 

Why the Difference Matters

It’s important to know whether you’re being faced with a misdemeanor or a felony because, overall, felonies hold much greater consequences.  For those who are facing immigration proceedings, felonies are more likely to lead to a denial of citizenship, the revocation of green cards and deportation.  Felonies also prevent citizens from voting, receiving social security benefits, being hired for jobs, receiving public housing, joining the armed forces, holding public office or serving as a police officer or lawyer.  Felonies are tried in the Circuit Court of Maryland, which is more serious than being tried in the District Court. 

Why There’s Confusion Between Felonies and Misdemeanors

A crime that’s classified as a misdemeanor under state law may be classified as a felony under federal law.  Sometimes certain facts about a specific situation may cause a crime that’s normally classified as a misdemeanor to be elevated into a felony case.  It used to be that felonies and misdemeanors were distinguished based on the potential jail time that could be served (less than 1 year for misdemeanors, greater than 1 year for felonies), however, since the law changed, you need to look into a specific crime in order to see if it’s categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony. 

Examples of Misdemeanors

Some of the most common misdemeanors include:

  • Possession of marijuana (10g – 50lbs) or other controlled substances
  • Driving under the influence, reckless driving or other driving offenses
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Second degree assault
  • Petty theft (valued <$100) or misdemeanor theft (valued <$1,000)
  • Vandalism
  • Stalking or harassment (including telephone or email harassment)

The sentence is dependent on the specific crime and can vary anywhere from less than 90 days to ten years of imprisonment, in addition to fines ranging from $500 – $5,000. 

Examples of Felonies

Some of the most common felonies include:

  • Possession of marijuana or other controlled substances with intent to distribute
  • Vehicular homicide or murder
  • Weapons offenses
  • First degree assault or sexual assault
  • Robbery, burglary, fraud, or theft (valued >$1,000)
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping

These sentences can vary from one year to a lifetime of imprisonment, and fines also vary greatly. 

How To Protect Yourself From Felonies and Misdemeanors

Convictions of any kind can damage your future reputation, financial security, employment or housing opportunities, and rights as a citizen; having strong legal defense can help you in dismissing your charges, exploring your best options, or representing you in court.  The Law Office of Elizabeth A. Lawrence offers high-quality legal representation, personal attention, and professionalism to help defend those who need it most.  Click here or call (410) 986-0088 to consult with an experienced attorney today.

Contact Us

    Law Office of Elizabeth Anu Lawrence, LLC.
  • Address: 90 Painters Mill Road Suite 201 Owings Mills, Maryland 21117
  • Phone: (443) 352-3201

  • Email: info@elawrencelaw.com

Follow Us