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The Stages of a Criminal Prosecution in Waldorf MA

If you are charged with a crime in Waldorf, Maryland or in Charles County, MD, prosecution of your case will go through several stages or steps. Without question, being arrested and/or charged is stress-inducing and it is helpful to have some idea of what to expect. In this article, we provide a brief overview of the stages of a criminal prosecution here in Southern Maryland. Of course, it is important to hire experienced and courtroom proven Maryland criminal defense lawyers like the ones at the Law Office of Robert Castro. Call us at (301) 75-5253 if you have been arrested or charged. We are available around the clock, 24/7.

As discussed in more detail below, the stages of a Maryland criminal prosecution are:

  • Arrest by a Maryland law enforcement police officer or voluntary surrender by the criminally accused
  • Booking and processing by law enforcement officials and preliminary incarceration
  • Bail/preliminary hearing before a Maryland criminal court judge
  • Scheduling hearing — which may also occur at the bail/preliminary hearing
  • Discovery
  • Filing of pretrial motions
  • Trial
  • Sentencing
  • Post-trial motions
  • Appeal

There are several ways that a person might be brought into the Maryland criminal justice system for criminal prosecution. One common method is being arrested by a police officer. Other methods include being indicted by a Maryland grand jury. Generally, the term “defendant” is used for a person who is charged with a crime (or crimes) in Maryland.

Whatever the method, once a criminal defendant has been arrested or has surrendered to law enforcement officials, the first stage is processing. This involves various tasks like fingerprinting, issuing jail/prison uniforms, inventorying and securing the defendant’s possessions, taking photos, etc. After processing, the defendant is placed in jail/prison and awaits his or her first appearance before the judge.

Shortly after processing, the defendant is brought before a Maryland criminal court judge. The purpose of the first hearing is to read charges to the defendant and inform the defendant of various statutory and constitutional rights. The initial hearing will also be a hearing on whether the defendant will be allowed to go free on bail. The initial hearing may also set the case schedule (although a second hearing may be held for scheduling). At the initial hearing, the defendant’s experienced criminal defense team may assert various legal issues challenging the arrest, challenging the level of bail required and/or other matters. At some point, the defendant will be asked to enter a plea to the charges such as guilty or not guilty.

The next stage in a Maryland criminal prosecution involves discovery of evidence. In brief, this involves an exchange of evidence that the prosecutors and the criminal defense team has that is relevant to the case and that might be used at trial. At various points during discovery, the prosecutors and the criminal defense team may file various pretrial motions with the Maryland criminal court judge. For example, an experienced Maryland criminal defense team might file a Motion To Suppress Evidence that was collected in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.

Once the discovery and pretrial motion stages are complete, the court will schedule and conduct a trial. For felony cases, the trial will be conducted before a jury. The prosecutor’s attorneys will “go first” and present their evidence of the defendant’s guilt. The defendant’s criminal defense team will present its evidence and may (or may not) have the defendant testify. At the end of the trial, the jury will return a verdict of guilty or not guilty on each crime that has been charged.

If the jury has convicted the defendant on any charge, the next stage is sentencing. This is often done at a hearing scheduled several days after the completion of the jury trial. After sentencing, the next stages include the filing of post-trial motions and, if warranted, the filing of an appeal with the Court of Appeals. Defendants convicted following a trial are entitled to an appeal.

Contact Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions contact our office to speak to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer at (301)705-5137. We are Waldorf, MD Criminal Defense lawyers. Our address is: 2670 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD 20601.