If you have been convicted of a crime and sentenced, that’s the end of the story, right? Well, not necessarily. There are some situations in which appealing your case is the right option. However, the Maryland Criminal Appeals system can be quite complex, which means that you need a seasoned lawyer on your side.
What is a Court Hierarchy in Maryland?
Before we can talk about the appeals process, we should take a moment to talk about the courts. There are several kinds of courts in the state of Maryland and they all have a special job.
District Court – In each county of Maryland, there is a district court. These courts handle a wide variety of violations and crimes, though they are usually on the more minor side. For example, things like minor traffic violations, landlord-tenant disputes, and peace order petitions would be heard at the district court.
Circuit Court – When the crimes get more serious, they go to the circuit court. However, sometimes serious civil cases will also be heard here. If you appeal a case heard in the District Court, it will be heard here.
Court of Appeals – The Court of Appeals is considered the top court in Maryland. A panel of 7 judges oversees this court by written request.
Court of Special Appeals – This court is overseen by a panel of 3 judges who can overturn the ruling of a lower court, uphold their decision, or declare a mistrial.
Office of Administrative Hearings – This is where you can argue your case with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration for your license or insurance policy.
Federal Courts – For matters that concern Federal law, you may need to appear in one of Maryland’s Federal Courts. If your crime overlaps with state law, you may need to appear in both levels of court.
Orphan’s Court – This court handles matters of child guardianship, wills, and the estates of unemancipated minors.
When Can You Appeal A Criminal Case?
If your case was heard in a Maryland District Court, then you have a right to an automatic de novo appeal, or a fresh trial. This case will be heard in the Circuit Court and though they will weigh the facts again, they will not look at the findings of the previous court. If you want to appeal your case a second time, then you can appeal to the Court of Appeals or the Court of Special Appeals, though this process will be much more difficult. To appeal beyond the Circuit Court, you must request a leave of appeal from the Court of Appeals, and they will only grant one under special circumstances.
Following your trial or guilty plea, you will have 30 days to appeal your case from the time of sentencing.
Should You Appeal Your Case?
If you’ve been sentenced by a District Court and you are unhappy with their conclusions, then you may feel the need to appeal. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the Circuit Court is its own entity. They will review the facts of your case on their own and draw their own conclusions. This could lead to a lesser sentence or it could lead to a more severe one. An appeal does not necessarily mean that you will be able to lessen your sentence. An appeal can be a roll of the dice for your future.
Tackle Your Case the Right Way The First Time
The criminal appeals process can be lengthy, expensive, and messy. The best way to handle your criminal charges is to argue your case as strongly as possible the first time. For that, you need an experienced criminal lawyer in Maryland; you need Ross W. Albers. Contact us today to set up a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you.