The Criminal Justice Process in Maryland

Maryland ReporterIf you are arrested, given a citation or charged with a marijuana related offense in Maryland it is important that you contact an attorney to help you navigate the criminal justice process in Maryland.  A Baltimore area marijuana attorney can protect your rights, ensure that the government did not violate your rights, and give you the best possible defense to the charges.

Maryland Law allows the police to either arrest a drug offender or in the case of small amounts of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, issue a citation or summons to appear in court.  If you are in a situation where the police want to speak with you, you should ask to speak with an attorney and insist on speaking with an attorney before you answer any questions.

If you are arrested, you will like appear before a commissioner and bail will be set.  In Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and other more populous jurisdictions, a commissioner is likely to release you on your own recognizance if you are a first time offender and you possessed a small amount of marijuana.  In other jurisdictions, you may be arrested and bail might be set pending a hearing.   You should contact an attorney as early in the process as possible so you can get the proper representation, especially if you are offered a bail review hearing.

Once you are released, bailed out or awaiting a trial date, an experience defense attorney can work hard on defending your case and making the State prove their case.    A defense attorney can represent you at the bail review hearing, at arraignment, at a pre-trial hearing, at motions hearings, in plea bargains and negotiations, and can help ease your mind as you await the justice system to process your case.  One of the most important things and attorney can do is review the laboratory reports indicating that a trained chemist has found the substance to be a controlled and dangerous substance.  Criminal laboratories for drug analysis are located throughout Maryland in Baltimore, Hagerstown, Cecil County, the eastern shore and other Maryland Counties.

Either before or at your hearing, the State’s attorney may offer a plea bargain to resolve the case without trial.  Again, without an attorney on your side, it is difficult for the average person to know if they are getting a fair deal or to truly know the consequences of agreeing to plead “guilty” in even a small marijuana case.

If there is no agreed plea bargain and both sides are prepared you will have a trial to determine guilt.  Depending on your charges you may pray a jury trial, ask that a judge hear your case, or if the charge carries a maximum jail sentence of less than 90 days you cannot request a jury trial, and a judge will decide your case.  The State must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high burden of proof.  You should have an experienced Maryland drug lawyer if you go to trial for drug possession.

Whether you agree to a plea bargain or are found guilty, the Judge will then sentence you based on the penalties stated in the law, while considering mitigating factors such as whether you are a first time offender or if you have multiple offenses, your community involvement, your work and school history, your family history etc….

The judge then has broad discretion to determine the most appropriate sentence if you are found  guilty.  The judge may sentence you to jail and/or a fine, order you to serve probation, order you to be regularly drug tested, order you to pay for supervised probation, order you to attend drug treatment, and/or make you perform community service.

You may have appeal rights at this stage or you may ask the court to revise it’s sentence.  The court or your attorney will advise you of your post-trial rights.

Once your sentence if concluded and your probation is over your case is finished.  You may then be eligible to have your record  expunged if you received any verdict besides a guilty verdict or can show good cause to expunge your record in Maryland.