Archives for February 2023

The Difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor in Maryland

What Are the Unique Aspects of Each? How Are They Prosecuted Differently?

The-Difference-between-a-Felony-and-a-Misdemeanor-in-Maryland-imgIn Maryland, when you have been arrested and charged with a crime, it will fall into one of two categories—it will either be a misdemeanor or a felony. The initial determination as to which type of charge you’ll face will be based on the Maryland criminal statutes, which identify each violation of the law as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Often, prosecutors will charge you with both, so that you can still be found guilty of the lesser offense if there is insufficient evidence to convict you on the felony charge.

What Are the Basic Differences between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

As a general rule, the two key distinctions between a misdemeanor and a felony are the seriousness of the crime and the potential penalties set forth in the statute. In fact, many misdemeanors may be elevated to felonies if there is evidence of intent to cause serious injury or evidence that the criminal act is larger in scale or scope. Furthermore, if the length of incarceration for a criminal conviction is less than a year, it will generally be considered a misdemeanor, but if it is greater than a year, it will be prosecuted as a felony.

Because felonies generally involved a higher degree of culpability, prosecutors will typically be less willing to engage in plea bargaining. With most misdemeanors, provided the defendant doesn’t have multiple prior convictions, there’s customarily a willingness to try to resolve the case prior to trial.

Results-Oriented Prince George’s County Criminal Attorney

Attorney Jonathan Scott Smith has more than 30 years of experience protecting the rights of criminal defendants across the Baltimore metropolitan area and the state of Maryland, including people charged with misdemeanors or felonies. He has been received an AV-rating (the highest rating possible) under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System from his colleagues in the Maryland bar for more than 34 years. He has been ranked among the top 100 lawyers in Maryland listed by SuperLawyers and was named a Top-Rated Lawyer by The American Lawyer Magazine. He has also earned Martindale-Hubbell’s Client Distinction Award, awarded to less than 4% of all lawyers nationwide.

Over the past 30 years, attorney Smith has successfully protected the rights of individuals facing all types of criminal charges, including prosecution for domestic violence or abuse. He will work hard to protect your constitutional rights, fully investigating your case to verify that law enforcement officers and prosecutors follow proper procedures when gathering evidence. He’ll question all potential witnesses and preserve all relevant evidence, so that he can prepare and present the most compelling arguments for your acquittal.

Attorney Smith has been listed among the top 100 attorneys in Maryland by the National Trial Lawyers Association, a “by invitation only” professional organization. He holds a 10.0 (Superb) rating as a trial attorney from AVVO, as well as AVVO’s Client’s Choice Award, with an average client review of 5 stars.

Aggressive Baltimore Criminal Defense Attorney

Contact our office by e-mail or call 410-740-0101 for a free initial consultation. We represent criminal defendants in Carroll County, Frederick County, Howard County, Baltimore County, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

The Differences between Criminal and Civil Offenses in Maryland

How the Law Treats Criminal and Non-Criminal Acts

The-Differences-between-Criminal-and-Civil-Offenses-in-Maryland-imgIn Maryland, as in all states, there are generally two sides to the legal process: the criminal laws and processes, and the civil law. A single incident can give rise to both criminal proceedings and civil proceedings. For example, if you are driving under the influence of alcohol and strike another vehicle, you may be charged with a DUI/DWI, and you may also be sued for damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

What Are the Fundamental Differences between Criminal and Civil Proceedings?

There are a number of ways that the criminal process operates differently from the civil process:

  • The parties to the legal action—In a criminal prosecution, the party initiating the action is always the government—it may be state, local or federal. In a civil action, the parties may be governmental bodies, but are typically private citizens or businesses.
  • The burden of proof—In a criminal case, you must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt (typically considered to be with about 90% certainty). In a civil matter, it’s only by the weight of the evidence (more likely than not).
  • The penalties—In a criminal matter, you can be asked to make restitution, but the typical sanctions are incarceration or fines, which are payable to the state. In a civil matter, one party must typically compensate the other party, though there are very limited circumstances where you can compel performance.
  • The legal basis—Criminal prosecutions are based on violation of a statute (a written law enacted by a legislative body). Civil actions are typically based on the common law, which is set forth in legal opinions issued by judges.

Experienced Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorney Jonathan Scott Smith has fought for the rights of criminal defendants in Maryland for more than 30 years. SuperLawyers has named him one of the top 100 lawyers in Maryland and The American Lawyer Magazine has also cited him as a Top-Rated Lawyer.

Attorney Smith has been AV-rated (the highest possible) by his colleagues in the legal profession under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System for more than three decades. He has also received Martindale-Hubbell’s prized Client Distinction Award, an accolade earned by less than 4% of all attorneys nationwide. He carries a 10.0 (Superb rating) as a trial lawyer from AVVO and has also earned AVVO’s Client’s Choice Award, with an average client review of 5 stars.

A highly-regarded trial attorney, Jonathan has an extensive knowledge and understanding of Maryland criminal law and procedure. He knows how to effectively gather and preserve evidence and will take all necessary measures to ensure that law enforcement officers did not violate your constitutional rights.

Contact a Proven Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer

At the law offices of Jonathan Scott Smith, we aggressively advocate for criminal defendants throughout the greater Baltimore area and across the state of Maryland. Contact us online or call 410-740-0101 to arrange a meeting. We handle cases throughout Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Howard County, Baltimore County, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County in Maryland.


  • Jonathan Scott Smith 10490 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 200 ,Columbia, MD 21044-4960

  • Call for consultation 410-740-0101