When Someone You Care About Has Just Been Arrested in Maryland
Being placed under arrest is a traumatic experience for anyone. It is a long and terrifying process for the person being arrested. It is equally stressful for friends and family members, who for the next few hours or days are unable to contact their loved one. In Maryland, what happens with the defendant may depend on the type of arrest, the nature of the case and the age of the defendant.
Arrest and Charging by Way of Citations/Tickets
Many traffic cases and some criminal offenses in Maryland are charged by way of a citation issued by a police officer. The citations might be issued at the scene of the infraction (i.e., roadside; store). In some cases, the defendant may be transported to a police station, where the citations will be issued, such as with most DUI cases. Charging by citation usually results in the quickest release of the defendant.
Arrest at the Crime Scene Followed by an Application for Formal Charges
If a defendant is arrested at a crime scene, he or she may be transported to a police station or commissioner’s office. The police may want to interrogate the defendant. This may take a few minutes to several hours. By rule, any arrested defendant is supposed to be presented to a commissioner within 24 hours of his or her arrest. The arresting officer will type up a formal application for charges, summarizing the allegations and evidence. The commissioner will then issue some or all of the charges requested by the officer. The defendant is then “processed.” This involves fingerprinting and/or taking a DNA swab of the defendant. Basic biographical information will be requested concerning the defendant’s residence, family ties to the community, employment, income, criminal history, etc. A check may be done to see if the defendant has any other outstanding warrants or open cases. The defendant then later appears before the commissioner to consider what if any bail/bond should be imposed, and what the conditions of release will be. How much time it takes to finally appear before a commissioner depends greatly on how many other arrestees are there to be processed. Most offices will be busier on the weekends than during the middle of the week. Expect it take 4 to 24 hours for a defendant to be brought before a commissioner. To find out the status of a recently arrested defendant, call the commissioner’s office of the relevant county at the numbers provided by the links below:
Allegeny County Anne Arundel County
Baltimore County Baltimore City Commissioner
Baltimore City Central Booking Calvert County
Caroline County Carroll County
Cecil County Charles County
Dorchester County Frederick County
Garrett County Harford County
Howard County Kent County
Montgomery County Prince George’s County
Queen Anne’s County Saint Mary’s County
Somerset County Talbot County
Washington County Wicomico County
Because of recent Court decisions, all arrested individuals are entitled to have counsel present when appearing before a commissioner. If you would like request that one of our attorneys appear at a commissioner's office, please call us at 301-251-9001. If private counsel cannot be secured immediately, the defendant will have the assistance of the Public Defender’s Office when appearing before the commissioner.
The Commissioner may set a specific bond amount that must be paid before the defendant will be released. If affordable, the defendant and/or his family can pay that full amount. If the defendant appears for all his court dates, the bond money will be refunded a few weeks after the case has concluded. If the defendant cannot afford the bond, friends or family can hire a bondsman. Typically, someone pays the bondsman a percentage of the actual bond amount. The bondsman then posts the full amount. The person hiring the bondsman signs a contract that sets forth the terms and amounts that have to be paid for the bond service. Usually, the money paid to the bondsman is not refunded – the money paid is the fee for the service.
A commissioner may also release the defendant on an “unsecured” bond, meaning that an amount is set, but the defendant does not have post any of it. If the defendant fails to appear, the defendant or a cosigner may be required to pay the bond amount. The commissioner might also release a defendant on his own “personal recognizance” or promise to appear in court without having to pay any money. Some offenses prohibit the commissioner from setting a bond; the defendant must wait to appear before a judge, usually the next business day.
If a defendant cannot afford the bond amount, he or she will be taken before a judge that day or on the next business day. (If the defendant is arrested on a Friday, he or she will not appear before a judge until the following Monday). Waiting to appear before a judge can have advantages. The defendant or his attorney can ask to reduce the bond, or set more favorable conditions of release. We have been successful in many cases in getting judges to allow that a reduced bond amount will be deposited with the Court. That way, the defendant can get released, and the reduced bond amount gets refunded to the person who posted it when the case is over. If the defendant still can’t satisfy the bond amount after this first hearing, an attorney can file for a later bond review.
Bond amounts can be paid with cash, certified checks, or cashier’s checks. Do not expect a commissioners office to accept a personal check.
Arrest on a Previously Issued Warrant
Some defendants are arrested on the authority of a warrant that was previously issued at the request of a police officer or citizen. The arresting officer might have nothing to do with the original investigation; he or she is simply serving the warrant. The defendant will be transported to the commissioner’s office for processing. The defendant will be processed as similarly described above.
If the defendant is arrested for warrant issued because of a failure to appear for a court date, the release conditions may depend on what the issuing judge directed in court. If the judge indicated that the “commissioner may set bond” it will be up to the commissioner to set the bond amount once the defendant is arrested. If the judge set a specific bond amount in court, the defendant will have to pay that amount to get released. If the judge indicated the defendant is to be “held without bond” the defendant will remain incarcerated unless and until his counsel obtains a new bond review hearing. If the judge indicates “returnable to this judge only” the defendant will not be released until he is brought before the judge who issued the warrant.
Arrest of a Juvenile (Under 18 years of Age)
Most juveniles who are detained by a police officer, are processed at the police station and released to his or her parents. If the offense is serious, or no parents/guardians can be contacted, the juvenile might be transported to a local juvenile detention facility. That juvenile will then have an “emergency detention hearing” before a judge or "master" to determine if there are any acceptable alternatives to having the juvenile detained.
For some serious offenses, a child under the age of 18 may be charged as an adult. In that event, the juvenile will be processed as an adult, and could be held in an adult detention center.