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Delaware Criminal Law: An Overview

Whether you committed an offense or were the victim of one, Delaware's criminal laws affect you to some extent. As the offender, these laws define not only the penalties you can expect but also your rights under these circumstances. As the victim, these laws inform you of not only your rights to recovery but also of your limitations and the legal procedure.

Use LawInfo's criminal law articles to help educate yourself about Delaware's laws and how they affect your case. You can learn about the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, intoxicated driving charges amany other state-specific criminal law topics. You can also use LawInfo to connect with a Delaware criminal law attorney in Wilmington, Dover, Newark or elsewhere in the state.

Delaware Marijuana Crimes

The medical use of marijuana is legal in Delaware for registered, qualifying patients. Patients are permitted to possess no more than six ounces of marijuana for medical use only.

Marijuana is not yet legalized for recreational use but marijuana possession has been decriminalized in Colorado for some cases. The possession or consumption of any amount of marijuana for recreational purposes by people aged 18 years or older is subject to a civil penalty of $100. If a person age 18 to 20 repeats the offense, it's upgraded to an unclassified misdemeanor with an additional $100 fine.

The penalties increase with additional fines and imprisonment if the offense was committed in a moving vehicle or a public area. Aggravating factors such as the presence of children can upgrade the offense to a class B misdemeanor.

Crime Classifications in Delaware

Every state has its own system of classifying crimes which also identifies the statutory punishments for each classification. Like many states, Delaware has three main classifications of criminal offenses: felonies, misdemeanors and violations.

Both felonies and misdemeanors are subdivided into several classifications. Violations are not subdivided. There are seven classes of felonies ranging from Class A felonies (the most serious offenses) to Class G felonies. After Class G felonies and as offenses decrease in severity, they are classified as Class A misdemeanors, Class B misdemeanors or unclassified/environmental misdemeanors. Violations are the least serious and non-criminal offenses.

Felonies and misdemeanors are penalized with fines, imprisonment or both. Violations are penalized with fines for the most part but the court may impose up to one year of probation.

Delaware Criminal Statute of Limitations

Your timing for pursuing legal action against a criminal offender is oftentimes crucial. Like every other state, Delaware imposes time limits in which you must file a lawsuit against specific criminal offenses before you are legally restricted from pursuing legal action. These time limits are called Delaware's statute of limitations and they rule that legal action must be commenced:

  • At any time for Class A felonies, murder offenses or attempts to commit these offenses.
  • Within five years from commission for any other felony offenses or attempts to commit these offenses.
  • Within three years from commission for Class A misdemeanors.
  • Within two years from commission for Class B misdemeanors, unclassified misdemeanors or violations.

The statute of limitations doesn't "run" (i.e. count down) if the offender is a fugitive on the run or if the prosecution has been commenced and is pending for trial.

Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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