Annapolis Criminal Lawyer
Tips from a Maryland Criminal Attorney
The State's Attorney has burden of producing evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal charges may be brought by the State's Attorney in the Circuit Court for felonies by way of an indictment or information. In District Court, less serious criminal charges may be filed with the Commissioner.
Short of trial, the common forms of disposition in a criminal case are nolle prosequi
, or nol pros
, for short, which means, "not to prosecute the charges," Another disposition is a stet
, which means to "stay". When the State's Attorney enters a nol pros
, in effect the charges have been dropped. On the other hand, when the defendant receives a stet
, the case is stayed and it is said to be placed on the inactive docket. Either the State or the defendant can request that the case be put back on the docket and be set for trial. After one year, the case can only be brought by a showing of "good cause". The defendant will be requested to waive his or her right to a speedy trial in order for the defendant to receive a stet
A third disposition is called "probation before judgment," commonly called "PBJ". That special outcome follows a trial or a plea of guilty and involves the judge striking the guilty finding and entering probation before judgment. In traffic court this disposition results in the defendant receiving no points on his or her license. However, the judge may impose a fine or terms of probation. It will be up to the Judge whether the Probation is supervised or unsupervised by the Division of Parole and Probation.
Diversion programs are used in some counties for first time offenders involving marajuana, control dangerous substances, and sometimes, alcohol citations. Upon completion of an approved program, charges are either stetted or nol prossed. Drug related charges brought in the District Court in Anne Arundel County may involve a voluntary program called "Drug Court" for offenses that involve non-violent crimes for defendants who have had certain prior offenses. At the completion of drug counseling the case by agreement can result in the defender receiving a stet
in the case.
It is important that the charges and evidence be reviewed by an attorney who can determine the merits of any charges. An attorney may obtain copies of all discoverable documents in the states file upon written request by way of a motion. In alcohol or drug related cases, it is crucial for the attorney to make a written demand pursuant to Court and Judicial Proceedings Article 10-1003, that the chemist, analyst or other persons in the chain of custody to be required to testify in order to prove the State's case. Without the request the chemical test report may be entered without witnesses having to be present.