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Murder Charges in Maryland: What You Need to Know

murder charges

Murder is one of the most severe crimes, and therefore, it holds severe consequences. Each state has its own set of laws and penalties for murder charges. If you are facing murder charges, knowing the charges and potential consequences you are facing is vital.

There are multiple types of charges that you can face if you’ve been accused of murder, and each offense is very different in the eyes of the law. This article will discuss murder charges in Maryland and the consequences you may face for breaking the law.

Types of Murder Charges in Maryland

Murder and manslaughter are both felonies under Maryland State Law. Below, you will find what defines each charge and the penalties for being convicted.

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is addressed in Maryland Criminal Law Code § 2-201. To be charged with first-degree murder, it must be:

  • Deliberate or premeditated
  • Committed by poisoning
  • Committed by waiting for the victim to arrive

First-degree murder charges can also stem from murders that take place when the defendant is committing another serious crime (felony murder). Some of these crimes include:

  • Escaping from a correctional facility
  • Burglary
  • Kidnapping
  • Carjacking
  • Rape
  • Sodomy
  • Robbery
  • Sexual offenses
  • Mayhem

You can still face charges in Maryland for attempted first-degree murder if you attempted to commit murder but were unsuccessful. It is still considered a felony,.

Penalties for First-Degree Murder

There are two possible sentences that a judge can hand down to individuals convicted of first-degree murder. They include:

  • Life in prison
  • Life in prison without parole

Second-Degree Murder

Maryland Criminal Law Code § 2-204 discusses second-degree murder. When a murder wasn’t deliberate or premeditated, it is considered second-degree murder. The difference between second-degree murder and manslaughter is intent, so second-degree murder must be intentional.

Attempted second-degree murder holds the same penalties as second-degree murder in Maryland. It’s important to note that often, aggravated assault is confused with attempted second-degree murder, so it’s vital to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Penalty for Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder is a felony in Maryland. However, those convicted face a lighter sentence than first-degree murder. Being convicted of a second-degree murder conviction, individuals face up to forty years in prison.


Manslaughter charges can be considered involuntary or voluntary and are described in Maryland Criminal Law Code § 2-207. An individual can still be convicted of killing someone else even if there was no malice or premeditation. An example would be being at fault for a car accident that resulted in someone’s death.

Penalties of Manslaughter

The penalties for manslaughter vary based on the specific circumstances of your case. A manslaughter conviction can result in one of the following sentences:

  • No more than ten years in prison
  • A $500 fine and/or no more than ten years in jail

Common Defenses for Murder Charges

With the severity of the crime and the penalties involved, knowing potential defenses against murder charges can help you better understand your options. Your criminal defense attorney will advise you on the route that will be best for your situation. Here are some common defenses for murder charges.

  • Self-Defense — Self-defense is considered a justified homicide. If an individual acts in self-defense, which results in the death of another, they cannot be convicted of first-degree murder.
  • Diminished Capacity — This defense questions the defendant’s ability to form intent. If the prosecution can’t prove the defendant fully intended to commit murder, the defense may be able to get the charges reduced or request an acquittal. Individuals such as minors, those with mental impairment, and those mentally impaired by head trauma or intoxication are all people who can use the diminished capacity defense. On the other hand, those with a mental disorder can be found not guilty because of insanity. If this is the case, they are not released. Instead, they are typically placed in a mental institution.
  • Mistaken Identity — The prosecutor’s job is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is the person who committed the murder. Your criminal defense attorney can argue that it was someone else.
  • Failure to Prove the Elements — If the prosecution cannot prove the elements of the case, which include intent to kill someone, killing someone, premeditation, or deliberation, your defense team can argue failure to prove the elements.
  • Accidental Killing — Not all killings are considered murder. If a death was accidental, your defense can argue that. This can result in a reduced charge of second-degree murder or manslaughter.

Turn to Jeremy Widder Law if You’re Facing Murder Charges in Maryland

If you’re facing murder charges, you likely understand how serious the situation is. However, it’s important to remember that a conviction isn’t guaranteed, as you have to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s why having an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to help navigate your case and provide a solid defense strategy.

At Jeremy Widder Law, we’re ready to help. We have extensive experience in defending clients against major offenses and violent crimes. With the severe consequences that these types of charges carry, it’s vital to have a reliable and experienced criminal defense team by your side. Our team will listen to your story and advocate for you throughout the process.

Contact us today, and let’s talk about your case.


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