Criminal Cases

Someone committed a crime against me, how do I file charges?
  1. File a police report - File a report with your local police department. If the police file charges, the court and Office of State’s Attorney will become involved automatically.


    File charges with a commissioner - If the police don’t file charges, you may file an Application for Statement of Charges on your own with a District Court commissioner. You cannot change your mind about filing the charge.

  2. Summons or arrest – If the commissioner determines that there is probable cause based on your application, he or she will issue a charging document. The commissioner will issue either a summons for the defendant to appear in court at a later date, or a warrant for the arrest of the defendant. The appropriate law enforcement agency will receive the document. Law enforcement will either serve the summons on the accused person, or arrest him or her.

  3. Trial - You may be required to appear as a witness. If you don’t appear on the date set by the court, the police can arrest you for failing to obey a court order.
I was arrested for a crime, what happens next?
You can view a flowchart of what happens in a criminal matter at the Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center.
How do I find a lawyer to defend me?
  1. Hire a lawyer in private practice. These lawyers will charge a fee for their services. You may use a Lawyer Referral Service to assist you in your search. View a list of referral services by county here.
  2. Apply for Representation by the Office of the Public Defender – If your application is accepted a lawyer will be assigned to your case. Information about how to apply can be found here.
I have a criminal record. Can I get my records "cleared?"

The process for removing information from a criminal record is called "expungement." For more information, see Expungement.

What is the Difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a minor criminal offense (other than a felony or an infraction) punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.

A felony is a serious criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or death.