Montgomery County Appeals System
In the District Court when somebody is charged with a criminal offense they have the right to a trial. That is considered a bench trial, where a judge hears the evidence that is presented and makes a decision about whether somebody is guilty or not guilty of an alleged crime.
You have the ability to file an appeal within 30 days of your sentencing on a particular case, the formal process of which a Montgomery County criminal defense lawyer can help you with. Someone with experience will have handled criminal appeals before and will know how the process works and what paperwork is required.
Montgomery County Criminal Appeals Process
If a person is not satisfied with the resolution of their case they have a right to appeal the case to the Circuit Court of Montgomery County with the help of an attorney. The Circuit Court of Montgomery County can hear the case on what is called a de novo appeal basis. When a de novo appeal is heard it means that the person gets a new trial in the Circuit Court and they start from the very beginning of their case. Witnesses testify again, and this time either a judge or a jury of 12 people make a decision about whether or not the state has met their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
This is important to recognize because it essentially gives people two chances. They get two opportunities to have a trial and two opportunities to try to win their case. A person who is skilled in handling cases in Maryland, and particularly in Montgomery County, will be able to use this appeals process to their client’s benefit. They can make sure the client utilizes all of the opportunities given by the court system to clear their name of the charges brought against them.
Appeals associated with felony charges that are handled in the Circuit Court from the very beginning have limited rights to appeal. You can appeal the case for ineffective assistance of original Montgomery County criminal counsel, if the judge gave you an unlawful sentence, or if there were irregularities or unlawful things that took place during the course of the trial. Other than that, there are not many opportunities to appeal from the Circuit Court to a higher court.
When You Can Appeal a Case
In Maryland the District Court is the place where you begin your appeals process. You can appeal a District Court case to the Circuit Court. Once the case goes to the Circuit Court you can note an appeal. The Court of Special Appeals may accept the review of that case or it may not. If it does and the Court of Special Appeals decision is not satisfactory, you may then petition the Court of Appeals, which is the highest court in Maryland, to review the matter. Again, even with the help of an experienced Montgomery County criminal attorney, they may or may not accept your case.
Considerations About Whether to Appeal
Important considerations to remember are what detriments an appeal can have to you. You know when you are appealing the Circuit Court case there are not a lot of considerations involved. Really you have nothing to lose by appealing your case to the Court of Special Appeals or to the Court of Appeals beyond that. When somebody is going to appeal the case from the District Court to the Circuit Court, they should recognize that if they were sentenced in the District Court after being found guilty, and are found guilty again after having the same trial in the Circuit Court, they could be facing more serious consequences. A judge in the Circuit Court who is hearing your case is not bound by the sentencing issued by the prior District Court judge from before the appeal.