The procedure involves from committal of a crime till conviction or aquital of the defendant are as follows:
- Reporting to the local police: When a crime is committed against some one the first step is reporting the crime to the local police department.
- The reporting of the incident makes it a matter of record.
- Investigation by the police: The police depending upon the nature of the incident as complained conduct the investigation. If it is found sufficient grounds to file charge against the person accused then the Police files the charge with the District Court Commissioner.
- Reporting to the District Court Commissioner: If the police do not conduct an investigation or file charges, an application may be filed for Statement of Charges on with a District Court commissioner.
- The District Court commissioner, a judicial officer, reviews the Application for Statement of Charges to decide if sufficient evidence exists to charge the defendant (the person accused) with a crime (probable cause).
- Issue of charging document through summon or warrant: If there is reason to believe that the person accused of committing the crime and there is probable cause, a charging document is issued under oath of the person complaining. The commissioner then issues either a summons for the defendant to appear in court at a later date or a warrant for the arrest of the defendant.
- A charging document may be issued either by
- Citation or
- Criminal Information
"Citation" means a written charging document that a police officer or fire marshal issues to a defendant, alleging the defendant has committed a crime.
- Service of summons: If a summons is issued, a law enforcement officer authorized to serve the summons will attempt to do so. "Serving" the summons, means delivering it to the defendant.
- Arrest on warrant: If a warrant is issued, the document will be given to the law enforcement agency responsible for finding and arresting the accused person.
- Preliminary Hearing: Upon arresting or on service of summon the person appears before the District court for the preliminary hearing.
- A preliminary hearing is a proceeding held in the District Court to determine if probable cause exists to charge you with a crime.
- The defendant has the right to hear the evidence against him/her and to cross-examine the state's witness.
- If the court finds no probable cause, charges may be dismissed.
- TRIAL: In a criminal case tried in a court of general jurisdiction, there is no right to a jury trial unless:
- the crime charged is subject to a penalty of imprisonment; or
- there is a constitutional right to a jury trial for the crime.
- After examining the witness(es) and evidence laid down before the court the court pronounce its judgment and either release or convict the defendant.
- Date: The date for trial of a criminal matter in the circuit court shall be set within 30 days after the earlier of:
- the appearance of counsel; or
- the first appearance of the defendant before the circuit court, as provided in the Maryland Rules.
The trial date may not be later than 180 days after the earlier of those events.
- The District Court hears most cases involving motor vehicle violations, criminal misdemeanors and certain felonies.
- The circuit court hears cases involving serious felony crimes.