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What happens if you are arrested in Maryland? - Part 1

Being arrested and charged with a crime can be a scary experience for anyone in Montgomery County, Maryland. A person can answer their door and be faced with police officers who are empowered to place them under arrest. That person can then find themselves handcuffed and put in the back of a police car. There is a lot of confusion about the procedures that are followed in the criminal justice system. For instance, when does someone declare that they are not guilty of the crime they are accused of? Also, what happens if a police investigation uncovers no wrongdoing? Here is Part 1 of a specific "roadmap" of procedures that occur when an adult, or a juvenile charged as an adult, is arrested in Maryland.

Before a person is arrested, a criminal incident or an alleged criminal incident must have taken place. Depending on the situation, one of two things can happen. If the police are called to the scene of a crime, they can arrest the suspect there directly. Otherwise, the alleged victim of the crime may choose to file a complaint against the suspected individual with the Police Commissioner's Office.

Once the complaint is filed, the Commissioner will investigate the case and determine if there is sufficient or insufficient evidence that a crime took place. If there is enough evidence to arrest someone, a summons or warrant will then be issued and the police will be given a copy of the arrest warrant. The officers will then go to the suspect's home or place of employment and present the warrant to the suspect before placing that individual under arrest. However, if the Commissioner finds insufficient evidence that a crime took place, then no criminal charges are filed and the criminal case ends.

After someone has been arrested and charged with a crime, that person is then taken to a police station, they are processed and an initial bail setting is determined. The case is also turned over to the State Attorney General office for prosecution. Then, there is a pretrial hearing, where the defendant hears the official criminal charges and the permanent conditions for bail are set. By the time a pretrial hearing occurs, anyone accused of a crime will have already met with their defense attorney and started planning their criminal defense. At the pretrial hearing, the defendant enters a guilty or not guilty plea. Should the defendant plead not guilty, a trial date is then set by a judge.

Source:, "Justice system roadmap", May 3, 2015

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