Maryland Criminal Lawyer
Getting arrested and charged with a crime can lead to serious consequences for anyone this happens to. We live in a society whose politicians have emphasized being “tough” on crime for several decades. Over the years, many states, including Maryland have toughened penalties for minor crimes and over criminalized conduct for nonviolent offenses. The so-called War on Drugs has created a system of mass incarceration for nonviolent offenders.
In this climate of overcriminalization, anybody anywhere can get arrested for any reason. Many people are fortunate to avoid the criminal justice system. However, in Maryland, as in other states, police make arrests for quality of life offenses like public intoxication and disorderly conduct on a daily basis. Multiple police agencies have jurisdictions to make arrests including city, county, and state police. Law enforcement continues to arrest nonviolent offenders for possession of drugs and other nonviolent activity, including through stings on social media.
Getting Arrested in Maryland
In Maryland, an arrest usually starts with a warrant or, for most misdemeanors, when the officer observes the crime committed in their presence (like for a DUI or reckless driving). Domestic violence and assault cases often originate from a person making a complaint against another and police ultimately obtaining a warrant for that person’s arrest. After getting booked and processed at the station during an arrest, the person arrested will have to go before a Commissioner who will determine whether to release the person.
The Commissioner may release the person on their own recognizance or impose conditions of release. At that point, the case gets forwarded to the State’s Attorney’s Office to decide whether to prosecute them or not. For anyone who gets arrested in Maryland, its important to consult with an experienced and qualified Maryland criminal defense lawyer. A Maryland criminal defense lawyer can negotiate with the Assistant State’s Attorney for a plea bargain and/or prepare the case for trial.
There are a range of potential charges in the Maryland Criminal Code including, but not limited to:
- Disorderly Conduct
- Domestic Violence
- Fake ID
- Prostitution & Solicitation
- Reckless Endangerment
- Reckless Driving
- Revenge Porn
- Sex Offenses
- Traffic Offenses
Getting charged with a criminal offense in Maryland is a serious matter. Anytime one’s liberty is at stake, the consequences can be devastating to the person’s family, career, time, and reputation.
Criminal Court in Maryland
In addition, a Maryland criminal defense lawyer can try and negotiate to determine whether the State will offer some form of diversion as a means to resolve the case. Diversion is typically a deal with the State where the defendant agrees to complete conditions in exchange for either the case being set aside, dismissed, or put on an inactive or “Stet” docket. Maryland also has some agreements where the defendant gets something called a probation before judgment or “PBJ.” This type of agreement or sentence puts the defendant on probation before the Court enters the final order or judgment convicting the person. If the defendant successfully completes the probation, then they ultimately do not get convicted.
At trial, the State has the burden to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. That means the State must prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Maryland’s court system is two-tiered with a Circuit Court and District Court in each county. These are the trial courts where criminal cases get adjudicated. At the District Court level, if the case proceeds to trial, the trial is what’s called a bench trial. A bench trial is where the judge decides whether the State proved their case. If the defendant makes a jury demand (and the offense is jury demandable), the case gets heard in the Circuit Court. In a jury trial, it’s the 12-person jury who decides what facts occurred in the incident. The judge instructs the jury on what the law is and says. The judge further instructs the jury to apply the facts they believe occurred to the law. That usually involves the jury deciding which witnesses to believe and what evidence to accept.
If the jury finds the defendant guilty, then the judge ultimately sentences the person. The judge can sentence people to jail, assess fines, and folks convicted of a crime can suffer a number of collateral consequences. For DUI cases, the collateral consequences can include things like loss of license and increased insurance premiums. For individuals convicted of felonies, they can lose their voting rights, access to housing, among the literally dozens of potential consequences.
Because Maryland trial courts have a two-tiered system, cases tried in District Court can be appealed de novo to the Circuit Court. That means that if a defendant loses at the District Court level, they can get a new trial at the Circuit Court level, which means the government has to retry the case in front of a jury. In addition, at any time as long as the maximum penalty meets the statutory requirement, the defendant can make a jury demand from District Court to Circuit Court.
Of course, getting convicted for a criminal offense in Maryland can be life changing for any individual. At Scrofano Law PC, we aggressively represent folks and relentlessly fight on their behalf, including in the State of Maryland. We regularly practice in Montgomery and Prince George’s County as well as surrounding counties.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
Its important to hire a criminal defense attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. It can be extremely difficult to navigate the criminal justice system. Police officers may have violated your constitutional rights are engaged in outright unlawful behavior in the investigation or arrest process. Prosecutors aggressively pursue charges against individuals and are not likely to just drop charges after someone is arrested.
If you or someone you know has been arrested or is under investigation in the State of Maryland, contact Scrofano Law PC for full case evaluation. We specialize in defending individuals charged with misdemeanors and felonies in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. We have experience in the District and Circuit Courts defending a wide range of offenses including DUI and traffic offenses, domestic violence, guns, drugs, sex offenses, alcohol related offenses, violent felonies, and assault cases. You are not alone, and we are standing by ready to help.