Wicomico County Courthouses
The Wicomico County criminal courthouse for defendants charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI) is the Wicomico County District Court building on 201 Baptist Street in Salisbury. Wicomico is one of four Eastern Shore counties in District 2 of the Maryland court system.
The court does not allow drinks, food, or gum in the building. All who enter must pass through security and metal detectors. Building entry may be slow when lines form on busy days; defendants scheduled to appear do well to plan for such delays to avoid tardiness. Court security personnel may inspect and confiscate electronic devices, which must remain off and inoperable inside courtrooms. The court prohibits the use of any device to record or transmit photographs, videos, or other visual images in the facility without express permission. The District Court is a court of record by electronic equipment. A trial that cannot be recorded may not be held unless all parties waive the right to record it. A party or a party’s attorney may listen to the recording of the case at such times and places as the court deems appropriate.
The District Court has jurisdiction over all motor vehicle violations and jurisdiction concurrent with that of the Circuit Court over misdemeanors and some lesser felonies. The District Court does not conduct jury trials. When an offense is punishable by more than 90 days in jail, the defendant has the right to remove the case to the Circuit Court for a jury trial. For a DUI first offense the maximum sentence is jail time of one year, a fine of $1,000, or both.
DUI Trial at Wicomico County District Court
For defendants arrested for DUI, commissioners preside over their first encounters with the District Court. The District Court Chief Judge in Annapolis appoints these judicial officers, who have two primary responsibilities: to review affidavits or applications for statements of charges to determine probable cause for arrest and to conduct pre-arraignment, initial appearance hearings on those arrested to decide conditions of pre-trial release. The Wicomico County Commissioner Station is on Naylor Mill Road in Salisbury.
District Court judges, who preside over all other proceedings, must be at least 30 years old, members of the Maryland Bar, and residents of the counties in which they sit. The Maryland State’s Attorney prosecutes traffic and criminal offenses in District Court.
In a District Court bench trial or a Circuit Court trial by jury, the prosecution must prove intoxication to secure a conviction. They may use blood alcohol content, video evidence, or eyewitness testimony. They always prefer the more reliable, less strenuous scientific method of blood alcohol content or the results of field sobriety tests– and they are quick to use incriminating statements
Wicomico County Public Defender
The Office of the Public Defender handles criminal cases with any possible jail time or fines of more than $500. Eligibility for Public Defender services is according to financial condition under federal poverty guidelines. For eligible defendants the office takes applications Monday through Friday except state holidays. Defendants may apply at any Public Defender office at least ten business days before trial.
Every summer, visitors, vacationers, tourists, and students travelling to Ocean City beaches find themselves unexpectedly charged with a DUI. All such situations fraught with dire consequences are extremely stressful, especially for defendants from outside the Salisbury-Ocean City area. A skilled, experienced Wicomico criminal defense attorney familiar with DUI practice is the first and best source of the advice and advocacy necessary for the best possible result (more information on Wicomico criminal lawyer available here).