Maryland Felony Charge

The most serious crimes are defined as felonies. A felony is a crime that may be punished by more than a year in prison. A misdemeanor is less of a crime and typically can only be punished by no more than one year in prison and/or fines, probation or community service. If you have been charged with a Maryland felony you can always contact our Maryland criminal law offices for a free consultation

Examples of felonies:
• Rape
• Aggregate Assault
• Murder / Homicide
• Sexual Assault
• Child Abuse
• Embezzlement
• Hit and Run
• White Collar Offenses
• Vehicular Manslaughter
• Robbery
• Burglary
• DWI/DUI (Third Charge)
• Grand Larceny
• Drug Charges
• Kidnapping
If you are convicted of a felony it can result in the loss of certain privileges. The privileges include but not limited to:
• Loss of professional licenses
• Loss of driver’s licenses
• Termination of public/government employment
• Ability to hold public office
• Removal of public office
Persons that are convicted of felonies are often punishable by:
• More than a year in prison
• Probation
• Community service
• Fines
• Mandatory Classes (typically for DUI/DWI and domestic violence)
Complaints and Indictments
Felony cases begin with a filing of a Complaint or through the finding of the Indictment. Both are prepared by the prosecutor’s office.A Complaint is a person accuses the defendant of having committed a crime. It is typically signed by the prosecutor but could also be signed by a witness. An Indictment is a document that a grand jury accuses a person of having committed a crime or crimes. It is issued by the grand jury at the conclusion of their consideration of a case in a grand jury proceeding.
Summons and Arrest Warrant
Defendants can be compelled to appear in court either by serving the defendant with a summons or an arrest warrant. A summons is a document which is handed to the defendant by the Sheriff’s Office. The summons will provide a date and time to appear in court.Defendants can also be arrested and brought to court based on an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant is issued by a judge. Arrest warrants can only be issued if there is evidence of probable cause that the defendant committed a crime or crimes.
Initial Appearance
If the defendant has been charged through the filing of a Complaint, the defendant’s first appearance will be before magistrate judge.During the hearing, the defendant is informed of the charges against them, the maximum penalties that the court could impose if the defendant pleads or is found guilty of the charge. If the defendant has been arrested, the court will determine if the defendant can post a bond. The defendant will not be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty during the initial appearance. During the hearing, the magistrate will schedule a time for the preliminary hearing.
Preliminary Hearing
During the preliminary hearing the prosecution is required to produce witnesses and evidence to establish probable cause that the defendant committed a crime or crimes. A failure to provide sufficient evidence could result in dismissal of the charge or charges. The magistrate is required to determine whether the prosecution has provided sufficient evidence for a conviction. The evidence does not have to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt but must be strong enough to provide a case against the defendant. The magistrate will dismiss charges that don’t have sufficient evidence of the complaint. If the prosecution produces sufficient evidence, the magistrate will require the defendant to appear in District Court to enter into a plea. The magistrate issues a commitment finding that the evidence that was provided is sufficient to move forward.
Arraignment in District Court
An arraignment is when the defendant is brought before a judge and read his or her criminal charges. During this process the accused is asked to plead either “guilty” or “not guilty” of his or hers charges. If the defendant pleads guilty at the arraignment, the defendant can be sentenced that day or a later day. If the defendant pleads not guilty, depending upon the seriousness of the charges, and previous criminal history, the judge will have the right to set a bail or release the defendant on his or her own recognizance. Typically for a misdemeanor the judge will release the defendant on his or her own recognizance.
Pretrial
The purpose of the pre trial is to bring both the defendant and the prosecutors together to determine if they can resolve the case out of court; This is known as plea bargaining. If both parties reach an agreement, the defendant can be sentenced at the time of the pretrial or at a later date. If an agreement is not made the defendant will have to go to trial. Typically if a plea bargain is rejected the defendant and the attorney feel that they have a good chance of winning the case.
Trial
The trial can be a daunting process. Trials are either “jury trials” or “court trials”. It is up to the defense team to pick the jury for the case. In a misdemeanor case there are 6 jurors are selected. The number of jurors for a felony is 12. In a “court trial” the decision is made by the judge. Once the trial begins, the prosecution makes its opening statement. This typically consists of introducing the defendant and explaining the charges against the defendant. Next is the presentation of evidence. Since the defendant is innocent until proven guilty, the criminal defense team will present last. Presenting the evidence can include physical evidence, verbal evidence, witnesses and expert testimonials. During this time the prosecution is trying to make a case against the defendant and the defense team is trying to prove the defendants innocence. After the defendants presentation of evidence, will be the closing arguments. If it is a “jury trial” the juries will than convene and once a verdict has been made, the jury will typically read a “guilty” or “not guilty” plea. If it is a “court trial” the judge will rule a “guilty” or “not guilty” plea.
Sentencing
A sentencing hearing is the last regular hearing held before the court. The prosecution will recommend the appropriate sentence, as well as the defense team. Both the prosecution and the defense team can call witnesses and introduce evidence to support their position about the sentencing. The court will have final say of what the sentence should be; fines, jail time, probation or community services typically result from a misdemeanor.

Appeals

If you have been convicted of a felony you will have an opportunity to appeal the case to a higher court. Although many appeals are not successful, there instances in which you can get a sentencing reduced.

If you are looking for legal representation for your Maryland felony visit our website today for more information.

Maryland Criminal Lawyer

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  1. […] Misdemeanor • Felony • Appeals • Federal Crimes • Sex Offenses include: • Rape • Child Molestation • Date […]

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