A recent post here took a look at the steps an individual goes through when they are arrested in Maryland. This process included being served an arrest warrant, being placed under arrest by law enforcement officials and going to a pretrial hearing. This follow up to Part 1 will look at what happens to an individual who goes to trial after pleading not guilty to criminal charges filed by the prosecution.
Once a trial date has been set by a judge, two things can happen. The trial can proceed as set by the trial judge, or a defendant, with the assistance legal counsel, can negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution. A plea agreement can be an integral part of a criminal defense and can spare a defendant from the most serious charges. During a plea negation, a defendant oftentimes agrees to plead guilty to a less serious charge and thereby receives a less severe punishment. It is also possible that by agreeing to a lesser charge, the defendant will only receive probation, depending on the charges. Another possibility during a plea negotiation is for a defendant to plead not guilty but agree to a statement of facts. This means that although a not guilty plea is entered into the court records, the negotiations with the prosecution proceed with an agreed statement of facts as if the defendant is guilty.
Should the defendant go to trial, then there are three potential outcomes. The defendant can plead not guilty but agree to a statement of facts, just as in plea negotiation, or the defendant can be found either guilty or not guilty. A not guilty verdict means that the defendant is exonerated and can leave the courtroom a free person. If someone is found guilty, that person will either receive the appropriate prison sentence, or possibly even probation if they have already served time in jail while waiting to go to trial.
Source: www.mdcrimevictims.org, "Justice system roadmap", Accessed May 11, 2015