Anne Arundel County Court Process
From start to finish, the Anne Arundel County court process is daunting. A skilled attorney may be able to help guide you through from booking to sentencing. A local criminal defense attorney have insight into how to best present your case, and could help you at each stage of the process.
While in Anne Arundel Jail
There are two jails in Anne Arundel County, one on Ordinance Road near Glen Burnie and the Jennifer Road Detention Center in Annapolis. Most individuals who are awaiting their court dates are at the Jennifer Road location and those who have been sentenced after being found guilty are typically moved to the Ordinance Road facility.
An attorney has almost unlimited access to speak with their clients at the jail. The general public is able to during visiting times only, which is a couple of times a week for limited periods. In those situations, they do not necessarily have privacy. However, an attorney conversation is not recorded due to attorney-client privilege. Additionally, attorneys are able to visit anytime they want to.
Booking in Anne Arundel County
When someone is arrested, they are transported to the jail where they are processed and, after several hours, they see a Commissioner. The Commissioner is a public servant that:
- Assess the charges
- Assess the incident
- Determine the likelihood of the person being a flight risk
- Determine potential danger to the community upon release
After seeing the commissioner, hopefully, the arrested is released. If they are not released by the Commissioner, they would have a bail review hearing the next business day by video with a judge. However, if they are arrested on a violation of probation warrant or something of that nature, they would not be able to see a Commissioner as the Commissioner does not have authority to release them. They have to wait for the bail review hearing in front of a judge to try to procure their release.
Bonds in Anne Arundel County
A typical bond has three variations of release based on what could happen. If someone is released on their own recognizance, they do not have to pay anything. They would be released and told to show up at court. On the opposite extreme, someone could be held without bond which means they cannot procure their release and sits in jail until their day in court. The middle ground is where someone could be released on bond either by posting a bond or an unsecured bond. Even if there is no money to post, they could procure their release pending the court case. There are going to be certain conditions they must abide by, whether it is reporting on different levels of pretrial supervision or their attendance at a class. Someone else may also be held without bond to be released to home detention with an ankle bracelet.
District Courts in Anne Arundel
There are two district courts in Anne Arundel. One is in Glen Burnie and the other one is in Annapolis. There is also a circuit court in Annapolis. Typically speaking, most cases criminal cases originate in the district court.
District court is lower-level where DUIs, bar fights, petty theft, drug possession, small civil matters, traffic tickets, et cetera are heard. If somebody is charged with a felony, their case commences in the district court and then be transported to the higher-level circuit court. In circuit court, there are jury trials as well as more experienced prosecutors and judges.
The Court of Special Appeals is in Anne Arundel County as Maryland’s capital is in Anne Arundel County. The court of appeals is the highest court in the state.
What to Keep in Mind in Court
Anne Arundel County District Courts and Circuit Courts typically have the same procedure, protocol, and rules as other counties. However, there are certain things that are a little different from other counties. Most cases in the District Court take significantly longer to go to trial than other counties. Baltimore or Howard County cases take about 45 days before they go to trial and Anne Arundel might take three to four months before they give an individual a court date.
This is problematic for individuals facing consequences in the short term such as suspensions from work. Alternately, if somebody is incarcerated, they may sit longer before they get their day in court and trial in hopes of being released or exonerated.
It is important to give the judges respect. The judges give respect to all defendants, regardless of what they are charged with, and they expect the same in return.
If somebody comes in on their own volition, meaning they are not incarcerated or being transported, it is important to have respect for the court, both while entering the courtroom and sitting in the courtroom. It is important to dress appropriately, use proper and clean speech, and overall demeanor should be nice.
Sentencing in Anne Arundel County
Sentencing is the second part of any trial after someone has been found guilty. If somebody is found not guilty, there is no sentencing because they have been acquitted. However, if they are found guilty, they move on to the sentencing phase which occurs immediately after a guilty verdict. However, there are instances where sentencing is delayed or deferred.
Sometimes, when a person is facing substantial time in jail, a judge allows them time to get their affairs in order before they come in to serve a sentence. A judge may request certain records or reports regarding alcohol or drug classes, anger management programs or other court-ordered programs.
There are certain mitigating circumstances that often change what a judge does. If someone makes the effort, they may get a more lenient sentence from the judge. This could happen in the district and circuit court.
After a Guilty Verdict
After a guilty verdict, the prosecutor makes a recommendation to the judge of what they think an appropriate sentence is based upon the person’s record and the nature of the offense they were convicted of. Alleged victims are entitled to give an ‘impact statement’ at the sentencing hearing as to how the incident has affected them before they turn to the reading of the sentence.
Then the defendant or defense puts on a presentation where they present whatever they want to present about the nature of the incident, the characteristics of the defendant, any type of action or mitigating circumstances that may apply, as well as any character witnesses. The defendant has a ‘right to allocution’ which is their right to say anything they want to before the sentence is read, although they are not required to.
The judge always decides the sentence in Anne Arundel. While the State and the defendant make recommendations, the judge is not bound by any recommendation made by either party and do as they wish. There are a lot of issues that could come into play, and a judge considers everything when rendering what they believe to be a fair sentence.
Mitigating Factors in Sentencing
If the defendant does not have a criminal record it may be significant for the final decision. If the alleged victim speaks in favor of leniency, that may also be helpful to the defendant at the sentencing. Mitigating factors could include taking drug classes or domestic violence counseling. Mitigating actions are seen as positive and a basis for special consideration of a more lenient disposition.
Contact an Attorney to Discuss the Anne Arundel County Court Process
An attorney could present whatever they wish to the court, but it is incumbent upon the defendant to do those things that they presented. The attorney acts as a guide and gives advice to individuals about how to put themselves in the best light. If they follow the attorney’s advice, the attorney may be able to make the best out of a bad situation. The sanctions are more serious when a person has not taken any steps to address the issue.
If you or someone you know has been arrested, it may be in your best interest to hire a local criminal defense attorney. They may be able to guide you through the Anne Arundel County court process and act as an advocate on your behalf from booking to sentencing. To learn more about the process in your specific case, contact a skilled attorney today.