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Nolle Prosequi and Stet, Know the Difference

Photograph of a client walking out of court

If you are facing criminal charges, one of the best outcomes that you can hope for is that the State will decide not to proceed with prosecution. The State can choose to stop prosecution for any number of reasons, such as new evidence coming to light that weakens its case against you. If the State makes this decision, there are two primary outcomes: “nolle prosequi” and “stet.” As a defendant, it’s important that you understand how they are different and how they may affect you.

What is nolle prosequi?

The best outcome is “nolle prosequi,” which is Latin for “no longer prosecute,” which is also known as “nol pros.” This means that the State is electing not to move forward with the case and is dropping its charges against you, which is good news! You have not been convicted and the case is now closed. Once the nolle prosequi has been filed, you can apply to the court for an expungement of the charges, which removes them from your record if you have no other pending charges.

Nolle prosequi does not mean that the charge is completely gone. As long as the statute of limitations for the crime has not been exceeded, the State can still choose to reopen the case if, for example, they acquire new evidence, although reopening is exceedingly rare. However, if your record is expunged and the statute of limitations is expired, the charges can no longer be brought against you.

What does it mean when a case is marked stet?

“Stet” is another Latin term (you will find many in law) that translates into “let it stand.” A case on stet is on an indefinite postponement. But this is not the same as a dismissal or an acquittal — the charge remains in the system, although it is not actively being prosecuted. Essentially, the State decides to put the case in a drawer and forget about it, which in many cases is literally what happens. This may sound like good news, but while it does mean that no charges will be brought against you, it does not mean that you’re off the hook. 

In order for a case to be put on stet, the defendant must waive their right to a speedy trial, and the court can reopen a case within the next three years if it chooses to do so. This is different from nolle prosequi, where your right to a speedy trial is retained. A case put on stet may have other conditions as well, such as a requirement to perform community service or other requirements set by the court. If any requirement is not met, the court can reopen the case and continue with the prosecution. After three years on the docket, a case on stet can be expunged; and if it is, the charges can no longer be prosecuted. Unlike nolle prosequi, not every county offers to put cases on stet. 

Do you have further questions about a nolle prosequi or stet case?

Albers & Associates is Your Experienced Legal Team 

Albers & Associates is your highly experienced Baltimore legal team. We can advocate on your behalf for the best possible resolution for your case. Our highly skilled legal team can expertly navigate your case and work with you during this difficult time. Contact us today for a consultation. You can also give us a call at our downtown Baltimore, MD office (410) 505-0671 or Dundalk, MD office (410) 505-7831.

Criminal Defense FAQs

Can I Appeal My Criminal Case?

If your case was tried in the District Court of Maryland, you do have the right to an appeal which would result in a brand new trial that doesn’t regard the findings of the initial court that tried your case. You have 30 days from the date of sentencing to appeal a case.

Will the State Appoint Me a Defense Attorney?

You may choose to accept legal assistance from a state-appointed lawyer during your trial. However, working with a criminal defense attorney at Albers & Associates means you’ll receive more personalized and dedicated care from a lawyer who is dedicated to aggressively pursuing the best outcome possible for every client they work with.

Why Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney for a DUI?

Maryland is one of the states in the U.S. That assesses both administrative and criminal penalties when someone is charged with a DUI. This means that fines, license suspension, and imprisonment are all commonly assessed when a driver has been caught doing so under the influence. The MVA handles most of the administrative charges, but a criminal defense lawyer is necessary if you want to avoid harsher penalties for the criminal charges.