Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Police and Prosecutors Work Together?

Police officers and prosecutors work closely in order to put together a well-prepared case for court. The police officers handle the cases originally and charge the defendant. Felony cases are brought to the state's attorney's office where the cases are prepared for court. Misdemeanor cases begin at the district court level where the officer assigned to the case and the prosecutor work closely to make sure all of the evidence is in the State's possession, that all witnesses have been interviewed and that the case is prepared for trial.

What is A Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain or plea agreement allows the criminal justice system to function effectively. Many people feel that plea agreements are bad and that defendants are "getting off easy." The reality is that without plea agreements, the criminal justice system would be unable to process the large number of cases that are handled every year. Most pleas are designed to have the defendant plead to a serious charge. Many times the plea agreement consists of a plea to the more serious charge with incarceration recommendation by the State.

Why Do DUI Offenders Receive Five or Six Chances Before They Serve Jail Time?

Certain DUI offenders will be sentenced to jail on the first offense. The likelihood of incarceration increases substantially on any subsequent offense. It is ultimately the judge's responsibility to sentence the defendant. The State will evaluate the case and make a recommendation to the Court for what the State feels is an appropriate sentence. The defense attorney is also given the opportunity to convince the judge not to send the defendant to jail. The final decision lies with the judge.

Why Isn't a 'Life Sentence' Actually a Life Sentence?

Many states and the federal governments have what is called, "truth in sentencing." This means that the sentence the judge gives a defendant is the full sentence he/she serves. Maryland does NOT have truth in sentencing. The amount of time a defendant serves in jail is set by the Maryland Division of Corrections. It has established a general guideline that outlines the length of a sentence and how "good time" credits will affect the sentence served.