You Were Arrested in Maryland: What Happens Next?
Being charged with a criminal offense can be an intimidating experience. The more you know about the criminal justice system, the better equipped you will be to protect your rights and your future.
My name is Jim Crawford. For the past 18 years, I have defended people in Baltimore, Catonsville, Annapolis, Bel Air and throughout Maryland who have been charged with crimes. I offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and answer your questions.
The following provides more information about Maryland criminal procedure:
- Before your arrest: If the police show up on your doorstep with a warrant (or not), you may think that answering questions and explaining your side of the story will help you. However, talking to police cannot help you and it could result in your arrest. Make no mistake: The state is not on your side.
- Your arrest: If you are arrested, you will be taken to a police station where you will be booked and processed. You should politely decline all attempts to question you and ask to speak to an attorney. Maryland rules of procedure require that you appear before a commissioner within 24 hours of your arrest. You may be placed in a holding cell or jail until you see the commissioner.
- Bail: After you appear before a commissioner, you may be released on your own recognizance, required to pay bail or held until trial. Bail is an amount of money that you may be ordered to pay to be released from jail pending trial. Obviously, your first priority is to get out of jail.
- If your bail was denied: If you were denied bail, you'll need to plead your case in front of a judge as to why you should be allowed to go home rather than stay in jail.
- Preliminary hearing: If you have been charged with a felony, you have the right to request a preliminary hearing within 10 days from the date of your arrest. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to decide whether the state has enough evidence to force you to stand trial. You should always request a preliminary hearing, as your lawyer may find a way to have the charges dismissed.
- Arraignment: You have a right to an arraignment if you are charged with a serious misdemeanor or felony in circuit court. At your arraignment, the court will read the charges against you and ask if you have an attorney. The court will also ask if you wish to plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. You should have an attorney represent you at your arraignment.
- Plea bargain: After your arraignment, your defense attorney may negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. One example might be a deal to protect your professional license in exchange for something the prosecutor wants. In a plea bargain, you agree to plead guilty to lesser charges than you would face if you go to trial. The majority of criminal cases are resolved through plea bargains.
- Ominous motions: A police officer may have improperly requested information from you without reading you your Miranda rights or tricked you into confessing to a crime. In these cases, your lawyer can file a motion to suppress those statements so they cannot be used against you.
- Jury trial: In Maryland, you have the right to a jury trial or a trial before a judge. If you are tried before a jury, all 12 jurors have to find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you, based on the evidence presented by the prosecution, which may include the results of lab analysis and other evidence obtained by police search and seizure.
- Not guilty or sentencing: If you are found not guilty, you will be released unless there are other charges holding you. If you are found guilty or accept a plea, the judge will sentence you. The sentence can range from probation and a suspended sentence to incarceration in prison.
- Post-trial rights: If you are not satisfied with a particular verdict or sentence, you can file an appeal. Generally, your attorney can file a motion for a new trial within 10 days of the trial. You can file a motion to modify or revise the sentence within 90 days of the sentence. You can also make an appeal for the return of property forfeited by the government.
- Violation of probation or parole: If you are put on probation or parole, it's important to comply with all of the terms. If you fail to comply or are arrested again, the consequences for various parole violations can be severe.
If you face criminal charges, contact me, Baltimore, Maryland criminal defense lawyer Jim Crawford, before you talk to police or anyone else. I am available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I offer a free initial consultation.
To contact me, call 443-701-4525 or 866-635-0623.