Arraignment in Maryland

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The “presentment rule” in Maryland requires that authorities bring someone they have arrested and kept in custody to court “without unnecessary delay and in no event later than 24 hours after arrest”—unless the arrestee waives this right. In some instances, an arrest warrant may instead require that the initial appearance occur “without unnecessary delay and in no event later than the next session of court.” (Md. Rule 4-212; Logan v. State, 289 Md. 460 (1981).)

(For more general information on initial court appearances, see Arraignment: Getting to Court. Also see How should I plead at arraignment?)

Probable Cause and Bail

At the initial appearance, after the police have made an arrest without a warrant, the judge (or another judicial officer) determines whether there was probable cause for the arrest. If the court determines there wasn’t probable cause for any of the charges or for the arrest, it must order the defendant’s release.

Arrestees are normally entitled to either bail or “OR”—as long as the judge determines that the defendant is likely to return to court and that the victim and others will be safe. (Bail procedures differ when sufficiently serious charges are involved, such as those that carry potential life imprisonment.) (Md. Rule 4-216.)

Initial Appearance Procedure

At an initial appearance for a defendant who is in police custody, the judicial officer must normally provide certain information to the defendant, including:

  • the nature of the charges and the possible penalties (including any mandatory penalties)
  • a copy of the charging document (if one is available)
  • an advisement of the right to counsel, and
  • a notice of the right to a preliminary hearing (for certain crimes), and the deadline for requesting one.

(Md. Rule 4-213, 4-215.)

Violation of the Rule

Within the first 24 hours of arrest, delays for certain purposes aren’t considered “unnecessary.” Among the legitimate causes for delay are routine booking procedures and the determination of whether to file charges.

If the authorities delay the initial appearance beyond the 24-hour window, the remedy for the defendant usually isn’t dismissal of the case. Instead, depending on the circumstances, some of the defendant’s statements may be inadmissible in court.

Get A Lawyer

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you should contact a criminal defense attorney in your area as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can:

  • fully advise you of the applicable law
  • guide you through the court process
  • assist in trying to get you out of jail, and
  • advise you regarding charges, penalties, and any potential defenses.

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