Will My Maryland Internet Crime Go Federal?

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Answered by: Thomas J. Maronick, Jr.

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The federal government and the state of Maryland take cybercrimes seriously. Conviction of computer crimes in Maryland carries penalties of from six months to 20 years in prison and a possible fine of $10,000. Those penalties increase dramatically if your case is tried at the federal level.

Whether your criminal case is handled at the state or federal level will largely depend on the nature of the charges that you are facing. These cases will often start at the state level, although they may start at the federal level immediately. A federal prosecutor may also jump in and take a case if you allegedly violated a federal charge.

The biggest challenge you and your attorney face will be keeping your internet criminal charges at the state level. The attorney you ultimately work with should be someone who understands how to keep a criminal case at the state level as well as someone experienced dealing with federal prosecutors if the case goes federal.


There are two primary reasons why anyone charged with an internet crime should seek to keep the charges at the state level.

First, federal sentencing guidelines are extremely strict and are relied upon by federal judges and prosecutors. Because the penalties are codified into federal law, it is very difficult to negotiate for a more favorable sentence. These charges often have mandatory minimums that cannot be negotiated away.

Second, if convicted, you may have to serve significantly more time in prison if your charges go to federal level. Typically for federal cases, you must complete close to 85% of your sentence to become eligible for parole for good behavior. For state sentences, depending on the nature of the underlying crime, you could be paroled after just 50% of time served.

If you are facing internet allegations, or any other criminal charges that could be handled at the federal level, it is critical to consult an attorney immediately. The sooner you hire your lawyer, the more likely you can keep your charges at the state level. That could affect the outcome of your case and limit the negative consequences you could experience after the case is resolved.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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