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Maryland Appeals System
If you have been convicted of a criminal charge but are considering appealing the ruling, the following is what you should know about the appeals process in Maryland. For legal guidance contact an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer today.
How the Appeal System Works in Maryland
In any cases that are resolved in the District Court in Maryland, you have an automatic right to a de novo appeal. That essentially means a brand new trial. The Circuit Court will hear all of the facts again, but none of the findings from the District Court will be considered. That can be done either after a trial or after a guilty plea. So an individual has the absolute right to appeal a District Court case to the Circuit Court. Circuit court cases can be appealed to the Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals. However, Circuit Court pleas are very, very difficult to appeal.
In order to appeal a plea from the Circuit Court, you must ask the Appeals Court for leave to appeal and there are only four very narrow grounds upon which an individual can appeal a plea. Those four grounds are that the plea wasn’t willing and voluntary, that the court lacked jurisdiction of the matter, that the sentence was illegal, or ineffective systems of counsel.
Number of Times you can Appeal a Case
A case can be appealed automatically once from the District Court, then there is the possibility of appealing it from the Circuit Court as well, depending on whether it was a plea or a trial. If there was a trial, you could appeal to the Court of Special Appeals citing some type of error either in the trial, the jury instructions or in the sentencing phase, and the Court of Special Appeals would hear that.
Time Limit For Appeals
There is a time limit on appeals. There is only a 30 day window in which to file an appeal for a criminal case. That window starts from the day of sentencing. So from the day an individual was sentenced, they only have 30 days to file an appeal. The appeal is filed at the court where the sentence was actually handed down. So if you are appealing a District Court case, you would file your appeal in the District Court and they would then transfer the case to the Circuit Court.
Important Things to Consider Before Appealing
An appeal is a brand new trial. So the Circuit Court is not bound to what happened in the District Court. They can make totally new findings of fact. They are also not bound in terms of sentencing. So if you lose an appeal, there is the possibility that the judges in Circuit Court could sentence you more harshly than the previous court did. So knowing which jurisdiction you’re in, which judges are likely to hear the appeal, and what the factual bases are of the case is extremely important in deciding whether or not it makes sense to appeal a District Court case.