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What are the Average and Maximum Jail Times Served for Common Crimes?

When you or a loved one are facing charges, the first question on your mind may be, “How much jail time will I have to serve?”  Unfortunately, it changes from violation to violation and is often different based on your state.  Each crime, whether misdemeanor or felony, may carry a prison term.  Violations have a maximum sentence that the judge can impose, but most people don’t serve the full time.  Here is a look at some common crimes, their maximum sentence, and the average time served for each (Note: Most sentences listed below are Maryland averages, but may be similar for other states):


Crime Maximum Sentence Average Time Served
  1. Drug possession
4 years (Non-marijuana) 16 months
   2. Child sexual abuse 25 years 3 years
   3. Rape/Sexual assault Life (first degree)20 years (second degree) 292 months (trial)
   4. Murder (1st degree) Life 17.3 years
   5. Murder (2nd degree) 30 years 5.9 years
   6. Manslaughter 10 years 9.2 years
   7. Burglary 20 years (first degree)15 years (second degree) 4.6 years
   8 Theft/Larceny 10 years (less than $10,000) 1.3 years
   9. Battery/Assault 25 years (first degree)10 years (second degree) 6.7 years
   10. Kidnapping 30 years 4.3 years
   11. Handgun possession 3 years 2 years
   12. DUI/DWI 2 months (first offense) None (first offense) (often charged with a fine)
   13. Domestic violence 1 year (misdemeanor)4 years (felon) Unknown
   14. Prostitution 1 year 10-12 days
   15. Shoplifting/Robbery 15 years 8.7 years
   16. Vandalism 60 days (less than $1,000) Days to several years
   17. Extortion 10 years (less than $10,000) 5-14 years
   18. Drug trafficking 20 years (first offense) 4.2 years
   19. Child pornography 10 years (first offense) 121 months