What to Expect From Criminal Charges in Prince Georges County

What to expect from criminal charges in Prince George’s County could include a number of consequences from jail to damaging your future. Because of the severity of criminal charges, you need to consider working with an attorney who could build a defense against the state’s prosecution. 

The Case Processes After Charges Are Filed

In Prince George’s County, criminal charges are generally filed through the district court first. A person should expect a hearing in the district court and then several options after that initial hearing. They may have a trial date if they have misdemeanor charges only. If they have a felony charge included, even if it is only one, they would have a preliminary hearing to see if that matter would stay in the district court.

There are very few felonies that would stay with the majority of those cases being ones that involve money. Those may be heard in the district or circuit courts. A charged person could expect to be served with a summons and put on notice, usually through the Prince George’s County Sheriff or local officer, though an attorney could work to have their case seen before a sympathetic judge if possible. If the person has been given a bond, an attorney’s office could work to reduce that bond. Usually, this is done in the Hyattsville Courthouse or the detention center. In order to help accused individuals, attorneys would want to learn such information as the nature of the charge, the amount of bond, whether the person has been released, and whether the charge includes only misdemeanors or at least one felony.

Misdemeanor Charges and What to Expect in Prince George’s County

When charged with a misdemeanor in Prince George’s County, a person should expect to have their hearing held in one of two district courts, either the Hyattsville district court or the Marlboro District Court. Hyattsville is close to the University of Maryland College Park, while Marlboro is near the 301. If they are facing criminal charges, their hearing is going to be in courtroom 262 of the Upper Marlboro district court or in courtroom 3 of the Hyattsville District Court. Local attorneys could help accused people by knowing the judges and prosecutors in these court rooms since they deal with these cases daily.

Common Misdemeanors

Prince George’s County District Courts carry an incredibly large and growing docket with regards to drug-related cases. The drug-related cases could include charges as simple as possession of marijuana greater than 10 grams. It could include possession of other drugs like heroin and cocaine, which seem to be slightly frequent in these areas. Psychedelic mushrooms and fentanyl are also beginning to enter into the local scene. Other misdemeanors frequently seen in Prince George’s County include domestic issues and general assaults, mostly in the second degree, as well as reckless endangerment, theft-related charges, and destruction of property.

Expectations Following a Felony Charge in Prince George’s County

A person could expect many different situations when charged with a felony in Prince George’s County. If the charge is related to the possession of drugs, depending on the volume, they may be charged with possession with intent to distribute. This is a felony that is charged when the amount of drugs on a person is greater than the amount normally designated for personal use. The state would conduct a preliminary hearing in which they have an indictment ready or decide to dismiss the felony charge in favor of keeping the misdemeanors. If the person is indicted for the felony, the case is sent to the circuit court. In the circuit court at the Upper Marlboro Courthouse, the person would have an arraignment.

After an arraignment, they may need to appear for a hearing on motions, a status conference, and trial dates, depending on the type of charges.

Frequent Felonies in Prince George’s County

The most frequent felonies in Prince George’s County are related to drugs and guns. The overwhelming percentage of these possessions with intent to distribute cases come from vehicles or warrants served on homes. If the police find a firearm in these cases, that is a penalty enhancement and sometimes comes with a mandatory minimum sentence.

If a person is driving their vehicle from out of state, they may believe that they have the right to carry a firearm. Unfortunately, Maryland has strict laws regarding the transporting of weapons, and the person could face a five-year mandatory minimum sentence in Maryland. This charge would be filed at the circuit court. This area also sees a number of felony cases involving first-degree assaults when injuries are particularly severe.

Sex offense charges are almost always felonies. Higher level felonies like rape and murder are tried in the circuit court. Other felonies that may end up in the circuit court include monetary crimes like theft, destruction of property, or embezzlement when the amount of money involved is more than $10,000.

The Differences Between Felony and Misdemeanor Charges

One way in which felony charges are expectedly different from misdemeanors in Prince George’s County is that misdemeanors often do not come with sentencing guidelines, whereas felonies do. There are also differences between the circuit court and district courts. For example, they may have procedural differences and, in the circuit court, there is a jury.

First Court Appearance and What Lay Ahead

For a first court date in Prince George’s County, a person should be prepared with an attorney who knows what they are doing. Attorneys would want to come to court knowing the extent of the charges, the possible defenses they could use, the purpose of that particular hearing, and any other information about the case. It could help to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney with the accused to inform them about the nature of the case.

What to Know About Criminal Charges

There are three top things that a person should know about facing criminal charges in Prince George’s County. The first is that the prosecutors often seek all available punishments. They do not offer many deals to a person. If it is a drug offense, even involving marijuana, the prosecution pursues jail time. If it is a sex offense, DUI, or a similar offense involving public safety, they approach the case intensely because they see the defendant as a threat to the public. People who have been charged should know that they need an attorney to help them in court because judges in Prince Georges County are not lenient. They are not afraid to give out jail time because the county is known for having a crime problem and judges are working to deter it. The last thing to know is that alleged wrongdoers should learn about their charges and the court in which they are being tried. It may be best to ask for a jury trial in some cases, so a charged person should consult with their attorney to see what could give them a better chance for a positive result in court.

The Significance of an “Attempt” or “Conspiracy to Commit” Charge

The way a charge is written is important. If a person is facing possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, or possession with intent to distribute heroin, they may be alleged to have worked in concert with a number of people and could be charged with conspiracy. The same is true of burglary charges in which people allegedly went with a group of others and attempted to commit a burglary. The wording of this law, with the phrases “attempt to commit” or “conspiracy to commit”, changes the criminal coding into a common law issue rather than a criminal issue. The penalty may still be 20 or 25 years but the charge is not a felony. This could be important, as it may remove some of the future penalties by not having a felony on the person’s record even though the jail time is the same.

Alleged Actions of Conspiracy and Underlying Offences

Being charged with a conspiracy to commit a crime or an attempt to commit a crime has varying effects. An attempt to commit a crime means that the crime was not completed even though the intent was present. A conspiracy charge may relieve some of the pressure on the individual since other individuals were also involved. These charges also open up the possibility that the State’s Attorney may offer different plea deals with reduced penalties, even removing felonies off of a person’s charges.

How Prosecutors Uses These Crimes When Litigating Cases

Prosecutors love to show the strengths of their case and say that they have all of the facts and could prove their case in court. Others who are less confident in their case may offer to defer the charge before the judge. In some cases, the prosecutor’s case may be weak. They may agree to a plea deal involving less jail time, local time instead of serving jail time in the Department of Corrections, a lessening of the charge, or even home detention in lieu of jail time. Prosecutors look at all the angles of their case when deciding to make a deal. Sometimes, this is good for the client and sometimes defense attorneys may advise their client not to take the deal because the prosecutor’s case is likely to fail in court.

Mistakes to Avoid when Facing Criminal Charges in Prince George’s County

One of the biggest mistakes a person could make when facing criminal charges in Prince George’s County is to fail to take the charge seriously. If accused people are assured of their own innocence, they need to combat the prosecution’s case in court and should contact a skilled attorney. Whether the case is in Hyattsville, Upper Marlboro, or the Prince George’s County Circuit Court, the State’s Attorney’s Office would come after cases that they believe they might win and they often do their best to prosecute them. The charged person should appear in court with an attorney and should not take the charge lightly since the prosecutors do not take the case lightly.

Let an Attorney Help

If you have been accused of a crime, you may wonder what to expect from criminal charges in Prince George’s County. Depending on the severity of your charge, you may face a slew of potential outcomes. However, no matter the degree of severity of the charge, you need to consider working with an attorney who could help you take steps toward a favorable outcome.