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What are the basic steps in a Maryland criminal trial process?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2022 | Criminal Law

A Maryland criminal case starts after an accusation of a defendant breaking the law. The state is the party that prosecutes charges in court, and traffic cases are also criminal cases. The state court punishes defendants who are found guilty with incarceration and fines.

How criminal cases begin

Criminal cases and incarcerable traffic offenses may begin in four ways. A warrantless arrest or an arrest under a warrant are common ways to charge a defendant. The state attorney’s office may file information in the Circuit Court or District Court. The State attorney’s office may issue a summons or an arrest warrant. The last way to start a criminal case is a citation by a peace officer or law enforcement alleging the crime.

The steps in a criminal case

The state attorney’s office determines whether a case moves to the Circuit Court or stays in the District Court. Criminal defense begins when the state attorney’s office initiates the case through a grand jury indictment of filing information. The defendant receives the summons, which notifies them when to be in court. A summons may hold a defendant in custody until the hearing. During the scheduling hearing, a judge explains the defendant’s right to counsel and the charges against them. The judge will explain the remainder of the set court dates. Both parties can agree to modify any court dates.

The discovery phase

Discovery is the disclosure of information that legal teams submit to the court at trial. A legal team may file pretrial motions to request to suppress evidence or statements before the motions hearing. Depending on the evidence in the case, a defendant may plead guilty or agree to a deal. The deposition hearing is where the judge takes the sentence agreement and plea. A trial begins if the defendant pleads not guilty. The presiding judge determines a verdict, but the defendant can file for an appeal after a guilty verdict.

Differentiated Case Management guidelines track cases entering in terms of their required resources. Each case has a case track that shows the tasks and allocates the proper level of resources. The four tracks in criminal cases dictate the date and time for the cases.