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The role of a District Court Commissioner in Maryland

On Behalf of | May 13, 2024 | Criminal Defense

If you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, a District Court Commissioner is likely to be involved in your case. They play a crucial part in the state’s judicial system. After you are arrested in Maryland, you will typically be taken before a District Court commissioner within 24 hours. They will assess your case to determine if probable cause exists to charge you.

If there is probable cause, the commissioner will work to ensure that you understand the charge in question and potential penalties. They will also inform you of your right to an attorney, your responsibilities of obtaining an attorney, whether you qualify to be represented by a public defendant and your right to a preliminary hearing. The commissioner will also determine if you can be released before trial and under what conditions. Conversely, they can order you to remain in custody.

Next steps

If the commissioner does not find probable cause for your arrest, particularly when you are arrested without a warrant, they can release you without the requirement of a bond, based on your written promise to appear in court when required to do so (personal recognizance) with no other conditions of release. You can request a bail review hearing before a judge 24 hours after the commissioner sets conditions of release.

Under some circumstances, a District Court commissioner has the authority to issue warrants of arrest. Other parties with this authority include a circuit court judge and a circuit court clerk.

District Court commissioners are constitutional judicial officers in Maryland. If you being affected in a situation within their authority, get legal help to better understand what you can do to safeguard your rights as effectively as possible.