Maryland Court Information
If you are accused of a crime in Maryland it is important that you know which court your case will be heard in, and what to expect in that courtroom. Below, a Maryland criminal defense attorney discusses the different courts in the state of Maryland and what types of cases are heard in each.
For more specific information on your case and where it is most likely to be heard, call and schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm today.
Different Types of Cases Heard in Maryland
Misdemeanor cases in Maryland are initially heard by the District Court. The District Court in Maryland handles misdemeanors and small claims. These are crimes where there is still the possibility of incarceration making it a criminal case, but not a significant period of incarceration. If an individual loses a case in the District Court, asks for a trial by jury, or if the case is a felony, then that case would go the Circuit Court in Maryland, which is the next higher level court. The Circuit Court in Maryland is the only place where you can have a trial by jury in Maryland. District Court cases are always bench trials, meaning they are always heard by a judge and not a jury.
Cases in the Circuit Court, however, can be heard by either a judge or a jury and that can make a big difference in terms of the outcome of the case. The Court of Appeals and the Court of Special Appeals in Maryland are the next highest courts. Those courts hear cases that have already been adjudicated at the Circuit Court level. This is the hierarchy of court systems in Maryland.
The Supreme Court of Maryland
Very few cases are heard by the Supreme Court. They are usually only going to be reviewing the record in the Circuit Court to make sure that there was not error. There are very few de novo trials at the Court of Appeals in Maryland.
Things That People Should Know About The Court System
The court system is staffed by professionals. All of the judges were attorneys, licensed and members of the bar, even though not all of them were always practicing attorneys. The State Attorney’s Office is also staffed with professional, competent attorneys and they will vigorously prosecute criminal cases. So it is very important to have a defense attorney on your side who has great knowledge and experience with the prosecution and can make sure that the prosecution is not trying to confuse or take advantage of the defense.
What to Expect for Someone Who Has Never Been To Court
They should expect they will be treated courteously and professionally by everyone involved in the case, that the prosecution will seek to vigorously prosecute the case, that the judge will be fair and unbiased, and that their defense attorney is prepared and able to mount a defense in their case.