Can you be charged with a crime from five months or five years ago? It's a valid question and each state has regulations in place, called the criminal statute of limitations, that limit how much time prosecutors have to file criminal charges.
Maryland has different limits for different kinds of crimes, so it all depends on the type of offense at issue. Maryland also has default statutes of limitations for general categories of crimes which apply unless another statute specifically identifies a different limitation period for a specific crime. For example, misdemeanors in Maryland are generally subject to a one year statute of limitations, but misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary have no statute of limitations.
Criminal Statutes of Limitation in Maryland: Overview
Understanding the text of a statute can take time, especially when it's written in a language that can even be hard for professionals to understand. That's why having a condensed summary explaining the text can help. Below is a chart covering key aspects of Maryland criminal statute of limitation laws for your reference.
Maryland Code: Courts and Judicial Proceedings:
Maryland Code: Criminal Law:
|Specific Statutes of Limitations||
No Statute of Limitations:
Three Year Statute of Limitations:
Two Year Statute of Limitations:
One Year Statute of Limitations:
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Maryland Criminal Statute of Limitations: Additional Considerations
The point of criminal statutes of limitations is to ensure that criminal trials are based on the best available evidence and to promote fairness in how long the government can wait to pursue criminal charges. Testimonial evidence like officer statements and eyewitness accounts, and physical evidence like fingerprints and DNA can fade or be lost over time. Longer or indefinite statutes of limitations seek to balance the interest in fair trials with the seriousness of the offense.
However, it's important to note that hiding out or moving out of state doesn't necessarily get criminals off the hook. Most statutes of limitations will run only while the alleged criminal remains visible and in the state where the crime occurred. If the suspect is out of the state, on the lam, or otherwise living in hiding, this will pause, or “toll,” the statutory clock. The clock will resume running if and when the criminal reenters the state.
Maryland Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources
Learn More About Maryland Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws from a Lawyer
As long as the statute of limitations hasn't expired, prosecutors may charge you with a crime if they have enough evidence to ensure a conviction. It almost always makes sense to have legal counsel by your side to help you defend against any criminal charges. Get a head start today by contacting a skilled criminal defense attorney in Maryland to discuss your case and learn about your options moving forward.
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