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How Long Will My Maryland Criminal Case Take?

It perhaps goes without saying that anyone charged with a Maryland crime wants the matter to be done, resolved and finished as quickly as possible. It may be that in specific applications, a defendant perceives that delay, and perhaps lengthy delay, actually gives them a tactical or strategic advantage over the prosecution. That may be situationally true, however, I Attorney Eric T. Kirk would guess that it in the typical Maryland criminal case, the person charged, the accused, wants the matter to be over with and behind them, and to move on.

Three related considerations are involved in the answer:

Is it a Circuit Court or District Court Case?

In What County, or City, is the Case Scheduled?

The Role of Covid-19.

Is it a Circuit Court or District Court Case?

Maryland has two different but related court systems. District Court, which typically handles less serious and/or misdemeanor cases, and Circuit Court where the more serious allegations and  felony criminal cases are heard. As a general rule, District Court cases are resolved on a shorter time track than Circuit Court cases. There was a time that most District Court criminal matters in Maryland were resolved in a matter of months. For the last 15 months, that has not necessarily been the case.

In What County, or City, is the Case Scheduled?

To add a further wrinkle to the already murky logistical outlook, Maryland, as any state, contains jurisdictions that vary greatly in population. Courts in rural jurisdictions, e.g. in the western part of the state or the eastern part of the state, simply do not have the number of cases that courts in the major metropolitan areas do. Hence the dockets in those latter jurisdictions are much more congested.

The Role of Covid 19.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made the answer to the question of “how long the case will take” a different one- and a difficult one to answer. Certainly, the pandemic has not abrogated the constitutional or the statutory right to a speedy trial under Maryland law. However, the time-frames imposed by these requirements are flexible, and the time periods can be enlarged upon a demonstration of good cause. Unquestionably, a novel virus and associated pandemic killing millions of people certainly is good cause to postpone a case. Maryland courts have been gradually “reopening” for the last several months, and we’re beginning to see, at least, District Court criminal matters being tried consistently. There is, however, a tremendous backlog of cases- and many cases going to trial currently have offense dates from a year ago or more.

How Long Will My Maryland Criminal Case Take

Until there is a return to “pre-pandemic” normalcy, or some version of it, there is no surefire, guaranteed way to accurately predict the length of time that a Maryland criminal case may take. If you have retained counsel for your case, certainly that lawyer will be monitoring correspondence and other notices from the court system and will pass that information along to you. If you are representing yourself, or if you have counsel and wish to look anyway, you can certainly consult Maryland Judiciary Case Search for the latest posted information.