When Maryland residents are arrested, they will immediately face a number of crucial decisions. An initial hearing will happen rather quickly, at which point the court will set a number of other important dates in the case and likely determine whether or not the defendant will secure their own lawyer.
Most crimes in the criminal justice system are prosecuted by state prosecutors in Maryland and other states instead of the federal government. However, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a crackdown on crimes and promised to seek longer sentences for convicted criminals. Justice Department officials hope that the states adopt this tougher position.
Before arrested citizens can mount a criminal defense in Maryland courts, they may be entitled to bail. This is money paid to a court to guarantee that a person who is released from jail will appear at required proceedings.
Maryland has many opportunities for people who were incarcerated after a brush with the criminal justice system. It is one of 14 states that allows individuals to vote immediately after release from prison and is one of 26 states with a Ban the Box policy that prohibits public employers from inquiring about an applicant's criminal background until a pending job offer is made.
The criminal justice system provides rights to individuals who are stopped by the police or arrested in Maryland. A person's conduct could also harm their criminal defense and have long-term consequences.
Maryland state or local governments can seize property related to criminal activity, even if there is no criminal conviction, through civil forfeiture. In cases related to drug crimes, the government may seize real estate, cars, equipment, money, accessories and all types of other property.
A brush with the Maryland criminal justice system can have long-term consequences. These may affect a defendant's job, housing, education and family.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the Old Line State's second highest court, handed down a landmark decision that will assure that the criminal justice system protects privacy rights. It issued the first high court decision in this country finding that police investigators are required to secure a search warrant for tracking cellphones, particularly for using a Stingray device to track phones. The Stingray device works a bit like a cellphone tower and triggers all operating cellphones in its range to connect with it. It then operates a real-time tracking device for locating cellphones.
In July 2017, a Maryland court ruling will take effect which will revise a hallmark of the state's criminal justice system. A Maryland Court of Appeals 2016 ruling requires state court judges to release nonviolent offenders from jail without posting bail if they are not a flight risk. However, the state legislature is also considering a bill that would reverse this decision.
The severity of punishment in Maryland's criminal justice system is sometimes illogical. Many years of repeals and changes in its criminal statutes often caused inconsistency and unintended consequences.