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Published on 6/1/2023, 6:43:00 PM

Maryland Statement of Probable Cause - What is a Statement of Charges?

If you or a loved one has recently been charged with a crime in Maryland, chances are that they are holding a document titled Statement of Charges or Statement of Probable Cause. This document normally has a cover sheet called a "CHARGE SUMMARY" that lays out each of the criminal charges brought against a person.

A Statement of Charges is a legal document that outlines the charges brought against a person and the basis for the charges. The Statement of Probable Cause is the written section of a statement of charges and typically contains the allegations outlined by the charging officer that form the legal basis for the criminal charges.

What is a Charge Summary?

The charge summary is the cover sheet of a charging document, which lays out each of the charges that a Police Officer or Private Citizen is bringing against the Defendant. A Charge summary will also show the statute a person is charged under along with the maximum penalty.

What does "CL" mean in a charge summary?

A "CL" marking under statute on a charge summary means that the offense is a Common law offense. Common law offenses can be charged in Maryland; however, they do not have a prescribed maximum penalty by statute. Instead, a Judge may impose a fraid and reasonable sentence, usually one based on the other offenses charged or underlying statutory offense.

For example, Conspiracy to commit assault is a common law offense which would then typically have a fair and reasonable maximum sentence of 10 years, the maximum penalty for a second degree assault charge in Maryland

Why are there so many charges on my Maryland charge summary?

The charge summary contains each of the counts that a person is charged with along with their maximum penalties. Often times there are multiple charges for the same offense. This could be due to the date of the crime, the elements of the offense, or charging a major offense and the lesser included offenses.

When Police officers submit their initially charges, they tend to throw as many charges as they possibly can on the charging document. A criminal defense lawyer should be able to tell you which of the charges are likely to stick around for trial.

What is a Probable Cause Statement in Maryland?

A Maryland Statement of Probable Cause is an integral element of the state's criminal law system. It's a legally required document provided by law enforcement and reviewed by a commissioner, explaining why an individual was arrested.

This document must establish probable cause, meaning the existence of reasonable grounds, based on facts and circumstances, to believe a crime has been committed. It plays a pivotal role at the initial appearance, a critical juncture in the legal process, determining if a person will face criminal charges.

The weight of the probable cause statement lies in its ability to justify an arrest. The grounds must be enough to convince a reasonable person that a crime has occurred, and the person arrested is responsible for committing it. A solid understanding of this concept is vital for anyone involved in a criminal case in Maryland, whether as a defendant, an attorney, or even a concerned family member.

The Role of the Statement of Probable Cause in Court Proceedings

The Statement of Probable Cause holds immense significance in court proceedings. It forms the basis for several vital procedures in both the district court and the circuit court.

During a bail review, the judge may use this statement to decide whether to grant or deny bail. Furthermore, the document may be used in motions for dismissal or suppression, playing a crucial role in the defense strategy.

The probable cause statement itself is not admissible as evidence; however, an attorney may use it to cross examine an officer during a preliminary hearing or a trial.

Can a lawyer explain my Statement of Probable Cause to me?

This document should be the source of most of the answers to the questions asked to a criminal lawyer during a free consultation.

Impact on Plea and Sentencing

A Maryland Statement of Probable Cause can impact the plea and sentencing phases of a trial as well. It might influence whether a defendant pleads guilty or not guilty, which could determine the course of the trial and, ultimately, the sentencing. When it comes to criminal charges, understanding this document's content and its implications is non-negotiable.

Challenging the charges against you

If your lawyer doesn't contest the State's case, there is a possibility that they may read the contents of the Statement of Charges during a plea. Often times the State will read the contents of the Statement of Charges as the facts in support of a Defendant's guilty plea. If your lawyer doesn't take exceptions to all or part of it - a Judge may be required to assume it's all true at the time of sentencing.

Bring a trial lawyer to Court

When facing a criminal charge in Maryland, the importance of securing expert legal representation cannot be overstated. The professional services of a skilled trial lawyer from FrizWoods can make the difference between a conviction and acquittal. A skilled lawyer brings a wealth of experience, a thorough understanding of Maryland criminal law, and a staunch dedication to their client's defense.

The attorneys with FrizWoods stand out due to their comprehensive understanding of the legal processes involved in a trial. With an in-depth knowledge of crucial procedures like motions, dismissal, suppression, and bail reviews, they can guide you efficiently through the intricacies of your case, from the initial appearance to the final verdict.

Moreover, they possess significant courtroom experience, effectively contesting charges ranging from DUI to more serious crimes. This practical experience, coupled with their expansive understanding of the law, allows them to construct robust defense strategies that seek to undermine the prosecution's case.

In addition, the lawyers at FrizWoods comprehend the importance of a client-centered approach. They strive to understand your specific circumstances and work tirelessly to represent your best interests. They believe in keeping their clients informed and involved throughout the process, making sure you understand the progress and the strategies employed in your defense.

Importance of Hiring an Experienced Criminal Lawyer

Navigating the complexities of the Maryland Statement of Probable Cause, and the criminal law process in general, is challenging for those unfamiliar with the system. An experienced criminal lawyer is invaluable in these situations. They can guide you through the intricacies of the criminal law process, from the initial appearance and bail review to plea negotiations, trial, and even sentencing.

For residents of Maryland, we recommend the seasoned professionals at Frizwoods. The criminal defense with FrizWoods attorneys possess a deep understanding of the state's criminal laws and courts, guiding you effectively throughout the process. Whether you're dealing with charges in a district court or a circuit court, their experience and expertise will be your stronghold.


The Maryland Statement of Probable Cause plays an essential role in criminal law proceedings. It can influence arrest, bail decisions, plea negotiations, trials, and even sentencing. Understanding its intricacies and implications is crucial for anyone facing criminal charges in Maryland. An experienced criminal lawyer can provide invaluable guidance and robust defense strategies to navigate this complex process, and, potentially, mitigate the consequences.