Interviewer: What are some sequence of events that people will go through once they’re arrested in Maryland and what are the names of the events?
Andrew Jezic: When somebody is arrested in Maryland, there is an interrogation usually or an intent to do interrogation. Once that’s finished, the police take a prisoner before a commissioner where the commissioner decides two things. The commissioner is not a judge, it is somebody simply appointed by a district court judge, the commissioner does not have to be a lawyer and he usually meets prisoners inside of the jail. Commissioners have two purposes; one is to set bail, determine bail and the other is to determine whether probable cause exists to charge somebody in a case before somebody is arrested, whether probable cause exists to issue an arrest warrant.
A Defendant Has the Right to Have Legal Counsel Present at the Commissioner Hearing
The defendant has a right to speak to the commissioner in Maryland , the defendant has a right to have a private defense attorney present at the commissioner hearing. Maryland as of very recently provides public defenders if somebody is indigent before a commissioner. After bail is set, the probable cause is determined, then somebody either stays in jail or gets out and then the first hearing in court will be an actual bail review before an actual district court judge within 24-hours of arrest to review the commissioner’s determination of bail if the person does not make bail in the interim. The next hearing would be a preliminary hearing, which is four weeks after arrest.
The Purpose of a Preliminary Hearing is to Justify Probable Cause to Keep the Felony Charge Intact
At the preliminary hearing, the purpose before an actual district court judge is for the state to prove to that district court judge that probable cause exists to keep the felony charge alive. At the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor generally calls the arresting police officer to testify about all the evidence collected in the case which includes hearsay, which is allowed. Generally other witnesses do not testify in a preliminary hearing and the defendant does not have the right to present evidence at a preliminary hearing. The defendant only has the right to cross-examine whoever the state calls as a witness at the preliminary hearing. After the preliminary hearing or before preliminary hearing, the state may choose to present the felony case to a grand jury.
A Grand Jury is Generally Composed of 20 to 25 Randomly Selected Citizens in that County
A grand jury is composed generally of 20 to 25 randomly selected citizens in the county. It’s a secret proceeding and the prosecutor 99 per cent of the time is able to convince the grand jury to indict a case whenever the prosecutor wants that case to be indicted. Once the grand jury votes that probable cause exists on a particular felony, the case is sent to the circuit court for prosecution, the court where the juries are in Maryland. The first hearing after that will be a scheduling hearing in front of the administrative judge two weeks later to set the next three court dates.
Almost Half of the Criminal Defense Clientele in Maryland is Composed of First Time Offenders
Interviewer: Do you have people that are coming in for a new offense, maybe they had one year ago and they thought it was no big deal and now they’re facing some new charge?
Andrew Jezic: Yes. Roughly around 50 per cent of our clients are first offenders. It’s just that one bad night where they had three wines instead of two or that worst night of their life, worst fight of their life with their longtime spouse and a push occurs that had never occurred before. That’s what I enjoy about my job so much is that we help really good people get through a situation that they catastrophize about endlessly. We help them either win or achieve a result that doesn’t damage their everyday lives.