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Maryland Criminal Defense Blog

Can computer crimes be misdemeanors or felonies?

Computer crimes can be very serious in the eyes of the law. Sending or creating viruses, damaging networks, hacking into governmental websites, and other activities are illegal. If you're accused of a computer crime, you need to be proactive about your defense.

While one of the most common forms of crime online is hacking, something you're more likely to see is spam or viruses. Spam, which is essentially digital junk mail, may carry damaging viruses. Some viruses open a way for hackers to access information on a server once the spam has been opened or downloaded.

Misdemeanors versus felonies: Distinguishing factors

If you're charged with a crime, you may be concerned about the severity of the charge. You will either be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. There are a few major differences between the two that you should understand, so you know how to approach your case with the help of your attorney.

What is a misdemeanor?

You can work to stay on probation after a violation

When you commit a crime, the courts can decide on a punishment that suits what's happened. If you've been able to get probation, it's been determined that it's safe for you to live in the community instead of going to jail. You may pay heavy fines or be under many rules and regulations, but you won't have to go to prison or be in jail for an extended time.

It is possible to go to prison or jail if you violate your probation. There are normally terms that you will need to agree with, and if you violate those terms, you could be taken back to court and given a new sentence. For example, most people on probation need to check in with a probation officer at certain times. For some people, that might be every day, while others may only need to once in a while.

Cyberbullying and the law

Misdemeanor crimes come in many shapes and forms, but cyberbullying is one that you may not have considered. This is a relatively new crime in many locations, and some areas may not have specific laws on the books yet. However, in places that do, cyberbullying is generally seen as a misdemeanor crime, but it could also result in civil penalties or jail time. If you're accused of it, it's important to know what kind of penalties you'll face in your own state and local jurisdiction. Penalties vary widely, so your attorney may need to focus on a strong defense to protect you.

Cyberbullying refers to the bullying that happens online or through digital means. For example, if you take an inappropriate photo of a person and share it on social media to make fun of that person, then you'd be considered a cyberbully. Cyberbullying can actually be more traumatic than other kinds, because social media can allow these photos or videos to spread quickly. Instead of only one or two people making fun of a person, several hundred or even thousands of people could see the image or videos, leaving that person the subject of public humiliation.

Marijuana penalties raised in Maryland

If you have ever been arrested for possessing marijuana, you may know that the state has been working to decriminalize the drug. You need to defend yourself regardless of the potential punishments; any drug charge can leave you frustrated and facing penalties. The benefit of decriminalization is that you can be caught with a drug and not face as serious of penalties. You could be asked to seek drug treatment or pay a penalty, but the charges wouldn't usually affect you as seriously as a misdemeanor or a felony.

The House of Delegates has determined that a bill that raises fines for smoking marijuana in public is necessary in the state; the bill passed and will make public smoking a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500.

Expungements and your right to have your record sealed

If you've been accused of or convicted of a crime, one of the things you may be considering is how the expungement process works. Expungement is never guaranteed, and you may have to work with your attorney to file the appropriate documents. If you want your record expunged, you'll have to show why you believe this is a decision the court should make.

When you commit a crime, you normally have to tell everyone about it when you apply for housing, a job, or other important things in life. That can hinder you, since some employers or housing associations may not want someone with a conviction on his record working or living in the area.

What is a white collar crime and what are some examples?

White collar crimes include things like lying, cheating and stealing from others. Basically, these crimes are financial in nature; they are based in fraud. Although no one actually gets physically injured in a case of fraud, that's not to say there isn't a victim or even multiple victims.

There are many kinds of fraud that can be classified under the umbrella term "white collar crime." For example, insurance fraud, identify theft and mortgage fraud can all be types of white collar crimes. Others may include piracy, securities fraud and financial institution fraud.

You can defend yourself if you're accused of thieving or burglary

Burglary is any unlawful entry into a structure in which you intend to commit a felony or theft. As someone who may have been trespassing or entering a home uninvited, you need to be aware that there is a difference between an unlawful entry and burglary. If you're accused of burglary, there are a few things that the prosecution will have to prove.

The prosecution is going to have to show that you intended to break the law, first. If you entered a property with the understanding that you were there legally, for instance, then you could argue that you weren't attempting to break and enter. If you can provide a witness or alibi that says they also were of the understanding that you had the right to enter, that can help you confirm your case.

Minors can drink underage in Maryland...sometimes

Are all cases of underage drinking as good as lost? Not at all. In fact, there are some reasons underage people may be drinking that are allowed by law. Even if they are out and about, if they can prove that they were drinking in these situations, they may not be found guilty of an underage drinking charge.

The underage drinking laws in Maryland may appear to state that anyone under the age of 21 can't drink or possess alcohol at all, but that's not exactly true. Each county in the state varies, and there may be other exceptions. For instance, if you're under 21 and working for someone who has a valid liquor license, you may possess alcohol, but you are not allowed to drink it.

What is an innocence defense and how does it work?

Are you able to provide a defense against any criminal charge? The quick answer is yes, even if you think the case is completely against you. There are more ways than one to defend a person against charges, some of which have to do with how a person is interviewed by police or if the person's rights were violated in any way. Besides finding a flaw in how your case is being handled, you have a few standard defense options that your attorney can discuss with you.

The main defense to consider is a claim of innocence. Can you prove that you didn't do the crime? Were you away in another state, off somewhere with friends or otherwise occupied?