Charged With A Misdemeanor in Maryland? Call Zirkin and Schmerling Law

Misdemeanors

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Charged with a Misdemeanor? We’re here to help.

Have you been charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense? While misdemeanors are often considered lesser offenses, with fines and jail sentences less than 12 months. Don’t let the name fool you. Just because a crime is classified as a misdemeanor and not a felony does not mean it is not extremely serious sentences including maximum punishments of multiple years in jail. Maryland has misdemeanor crimes punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Zirkin & Schmerling Law has attorneys with the experience to handle all types of misdemeanors, including but not limited to Assault, Domestic Violence, Reckless Endangerment, Protective Orders, Peace Orders, Drug Crimes, Weapon Crimes, Theft, and Fraud.  You need an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to represent you when your life is on the line.

If you need legal help with your Misdemeanor case, contact our Criminal Law attorney to schedule a free case evaluation today.
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What to know and anticipate in your Misdemeanor case

Below is a Road Map of your case from investigation through trial that is designed to give you an idea of what to expect at any point in the process. Click on any of the links below to reveal more information and get a better understanding of what to expect at each stage. 

  1. An Officer/Trooper/Sheriff has arrested you.
    • The Officer’s job at this point is to both take you to a police station to be more formally charged with the crime and to continue their own investigation of the crime. This will include interviewing any witnesses that are nearby and collecting evidence that is on the scene. Many, but certainly not all, officers are wearing Body Cameras and are recording their investigations. There are requirements that they notify you of this, with certain exceptions. Failing to notify you does not automatically mean that this evidence cannot be used in your prosecution.      
    • The first thing you need to do is remain silent. You have a right to remain silent. Anything you say and do can be used against you. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided to you. These are known as your Miranda rights. These are your full and complete Miranda rights. Law Enforcement are not required in all situations to notify you of these rights. To the extent that you ever encounter a situation where you are in an encounter with law enforcement, this article has just advised you of your Miranda Rights. Assert them always. Why? Because your own words and actions can be used as evidence against you to convict you of a crime. It is always the State’s Attorney’s job to prove that you are guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high standard and difficult for even the best prosecutors to overcome. When you offer up evidence against yourself, you are making the State’s Attorney’s job that much easier.
    • If the police try to interview you, tell them you do not want to speak without consulting an attorney. This may make their questioning come to an end. If they really want to talk to you, they must give you an opportunity to call an attorney. If this should occur, contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to begin the preparation of your defense in your case.
  2. Initial Bail Hearing
    • After being arrested by an officer, they will bring you to a police station where they will write up the charges against you. Within 24 hours of being arrested, you must be released or taken before a Commissioner. A Commissioner is someone who will advise you of the charges against you and decide if you should be released while your case is pending or hold you in the jail until your trial date. A Commissioner can also order you to have to pay a bail in order to get released. Finally, a Commissioner can order certain pretrial conditions on release on you including, but not limited to, staying away from certain people/locations and reporting to a Pretrial Agent who will stay in touch with you while the case is pending.
    • The standard that a Commissioner will consider is (1) whether you are a flight risk and (2) whether you are a danger to the community. They are applied like a balancing test. One can be enough to keep you detained while your case is pending. This is not a trial and most Commissioners will say they must accept the police report as fact for this hearing alone. Asserting that you are innocent until proven guilty is not enough to be deserving of pretrial release. 
    • You have a right to an attorney at your Bail Hearing. Notify the Commissioner that you want an attorney to represent you at this stage and the Commissioner will give you an opportunity to call your attorney. Contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to represent you at your Bail Hearing.
    • If you are released at this stage, and you have not already done so, contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to begin the preparation of your defense in your misdemeanor case.
  3. Bail Review
    • If you are not released from the Detention Center after your Bail Hearing, you will have a court appearance on the next business day with a Judge who will conduct a Bail Review. A Bail Review serves the same purpose as a Bail Hearing: to determine if you should be released while your case is pending or hold you in the jail until your trial date. Also, Judges have more discretion that Commissioners; there are certain situations where Commissioners are not authorized by law to release a Defendant, but a Judge still can.
    • The standard that a Judge will consider is (1) whether you are a flight risk and (2) whether you are a danger to the community. They are applied like a balancing test. One can be enough to keep you detained while your case is pending. This is not a trial and most Judges will say they must accept the police report as fact for this hearing alone. Asserting that you are innocent until proven guilty is not enough to be deserving of pretrial release.
    • You have a right to an attorney at your misdemeanor Bail Review. Contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to represent you at your Bail Hearing.
    • If you are released at this stage, and you have not already done so, contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to begin the preparation of your defense in your misdemeanor case.
  4. Discovery
    • When you are charged with a crime, the State’s Attorney is required to turn over copies of the evidence they will use against you as well as any evidence they have that may tend to show you are not guilty. 
    • For misdemeanor cases, there is no specific date that evidence has to be turned over before a trial. The only language in the rules of evidence for misdemeanor cases is that the State’s Attorney is required to exercise due diligence to identify all of the material and information that must be disclosed. In terms of timing, that isn’t very specific. And for any client, this can be very frustrating if your attorney does not explain this to you in advance.
    • Essentially, it means that evidence must be turned over before trial begins. So what happens if the State’s Attorney turns over evidence on the day of trial? A good attorney should not hesitate to consider postponing a case if the evidence turned over requires further investigation.
    • Also, one of the reasons you are hiring an attorney is because your attorney knows what should be turned over typically in a case. An experienced Criminal Defense Attorney will be on the lookout for certain evidence and know when it is missing and when this missing evidence is significant enough to affect the entire case either positively or negatively for their client. An experienced Criminal Defense Attorney will also know that such circumstances may also require the need for a postponement to protect their client.
    • Contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to represent you so that you can obtain all of the Discovery that you are entitled to.
  5. Trial Date in the District Court
    • In Maryland, the only types of criminal cases that can go to trial in the District Court are all misdemeanors and traffic violations and a very select list of felonies.
    • There is no set rule statewide of when your misdemeanor case will be scheduled for trial after you have been charged. It changes by county to county. Some counties will schedule a trial date one month later while others will schedule your trial months later.
    • Your first trial date will be scheduled in a District Court in the county where you were charged. You will have a right to a trial as soon as that day. If you elect to have a trial while your case is in the District Court, the only trial you can have inside a District Court is a trial by judge, aka a Bench Trial. This is a trial where the judge assigned to your courtroom listens to the evidence and decides alone if the State’s Attorney has proven that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • Just because your case begins in the District Court does not always mean that it has to stay there. If you are charged with a crime where the maximum penalty for any one charge is more than 90 days of incarceration, you have a right to a jury trial. Jury trials are not tried in the District Court. They are only tried in the Circuit Court. The choice of whether or not to have a jury trial is the exclusive choice of the Defendant.
    • If you are still in the District Court, and you request a jury trial, the case is postponed to be set in to the Circuit Court for a jury trial date. Again, when this will be varies by county. Some counties set the case in as soon as the very next day while others will set the case in for trial several months later.
    • Much work goes into preparing for a trial. You may insist that you are Innocent but asserting that you are Innocent is not enough. You need to be ready to win your trial. Contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to defend you on your trial date when you are charged with committing a Misdemeanor.
  6. Trial Date in the Circuit Court
    • If you requested jury trial in the District Court for your misdemeanor case, your jury trial will take place in the Circuit Court.
    • At your trial, a judge will preside over your misdemeanor case. The State’s Attorney is required to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You get to select before the beginning of your trial who will listen to the evidence and decide if the State’s Attorney has proven their case against you. You will be deciding between the Judge or a Jury. A jury is 12 people chosen from the voter and motor roles of the county where your case is being tried. The State’s Attorney will call witnesses to testify and present evidence that they have. Your attorney gets to ask questions of the State’s Attorney witnesses. This is called cross-examination. You have the opportunity to present evidence in your defense. This can be witnesses, evidence, and you have the right to testify in your defense. You also have the right to not testify and your silence cannot be held against you.
    • At the conclusion of the trial, the judge or jury will decide if you are Guilty or Not Guilty. Much work goes into preparing for a trial. You may insist that you are Innocent but asserting that you are Innocent is not enough. You need to be ready to win your trial. Contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to defend you on your trial date when you are charged with committing a misdemeanor.

Types of Misdemeanors in Maryland

When You’re Facing Misdemeanor Charges

It’s important to point out that all defendants in criminal cases should have proper legal representation under United States law. In fact, legal representation is not only your right, but it can also seriously impact the success of your case as well as the amount of jail time or prison time issued during the sentencing phase after you learn your fate. A qualified and passionate attorney who understands Maryland’s criminal codes and laws will give you a voice in the courtroom and stand up for your rights.

During this time, you need Zirkin & Schmerling Law on your side. We are compassionate lawyers who have helped thousands of Maryland residents facing criminal charges. We will always do what’s in your best interest and help you survive your legal situation. Get a free misdemeanor case evaluation by calling 410-753-4611 today.

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