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Ocean City Criminal Law: Definitions

Below, an Ocean City criminal lawyer defines some common criminal law terms you may hear regarding a criminal case in Ocean City. If you are facing a criminal charge, contact our law offices for a free initial consultation.

The Grand Jury in Ocean City

The grand jury is a charging tool that the prosecutor can choose to utilize. Each county state’s attorney is responsible for bringing citizens together and having them scheduled to serve a period of time when they serve on the grand jury for that particular county. County residents can expect that if they either have a license through the MVA or are registered as a voter, they could be called at times to serve on the grand jury of the county in which they reside. Prosecutors have different varying reasons why they might take a case to the grand jury. In Maryland, there is no legal requirement that the grand jury proceedings be recorded and so there may be absolutely no record of what was said within the grand jury proceedings.
If it is a case involving an undercover police officer, the prosecutor may choose to keep that officer’s identity a secret, although eventually the identity of that police officer must be disclosed to the defendant and attorney. Sometimes prosecutors use the grand jury because they aren’t really certain whether or not a jury would find certain behavior to be criminal. The grand jury can kind of be a testing board – the prosecutor can put all of the best evidence forward and see if the grand jury agrees to file an indictment.  If they can’t even prove their case to a grand jury then the likelihood of them being able to prove it at a much higher burden of proof is extremely unlikely. Therefore, the prosecutor can choose to stop putting any resources in to the case. A prosecutor has the opportunity to put forth their witnesses without any cross examination, without the other side of the case being heard, it’s a very one sided process. A prosecutor typically can get anything indicted if they bring it in front of a grand jury.

Ocean City Criminal Indictment

An indictment is a form of a charging document the state can use. If a person’s case was heard by a grand jury and the grand jury chose to issue charges, that charging document is called an indictment. If a person is charged by a police officer and after a district court preliminary hearing those charges were sustained then the state’s attorney’s office would file a document called criminal information. The outcome is the same. You can be charged by way of indictment, or you could be charged by way of criminal information. Regardless of how you’re charged, both of those charging documents would be heard in circuit court and you would have the same rights to a trial and the same rights to secure an attorney.

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