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Published on 5/9/2023, 10:43:00 AM

What is a Criminal Summons in Maryland?

A criminal Summons is a legal document that orders a person to appear in Court to either defend themselves on a criminal charge, or give witness testimony on behalf of the Defense or the State. The type of summons you may have receive will be explained on the document itself. If you're confused, the article below may help explain the summons.

You can always contact the experienced criminal lawyers to discuss your criminal summons.

Summons vs Warrant in Maryland

In Maryland criminal law, a summons and a warrant are two distinct legal documents issued by the court. A summons is an order that requires a person to appear in court to answer criminal charges against them. It is typically issued for less severe offenses, such as misdemeanors or traffic violations.

On the other hand, a warrant is a court order that authorizes law enforcement to arrest an individual and bring them to court to face criminal charges. Warrants are usually issued for more serious crimes, such as felonies or when a person fails to appear in court as required by a summons.

Differences in Legal Consequences

While both a summons and a warrant require an individual to face the charges against them in court, there are notable differences in the legal consequences of each. A summons does not involve an arrest, while a warrant does. Any criminal conviction - whether the case started by summons or warrant - can lead to jail time, a criminal record, and potentially more severe penalties if found guilty.

Service of a Summons

According to Maryland law, a summons in Maryland shall be served by a local Sheriff for the County of your criminal case, or other peace officer, by a judicial officer in the District Court, or by the States Attorney in Circuit Court. The individual receiving the summons must be properly identified, and the summons must be handed directly to the person who will then sign acknowledging service. The proof of service is then sent to the Court and is called the "return of service".

In some cases, a summons, like one for appearance in a criminal case as a witness may be served by mail, although this is less common and might not be as legally sufficient under Maryland law.

Failure to Serve Summons

If the summons is not properly served, the court may issue a new summons or, in some cases, issue a warrant for the individual's arrest. If a warrant is issued and a person is arrested, they will have a bail review before a commissioner and a Maryland Judge if they are held.

It is crucial that the summons is served correctly, as failure to do so may result in legal complications and delays in the court process.

Common Questions about Maryland Summons in Criminal Cases

What happens if I avoid a summons?

If you intentionally avoid a summons or fail to appear in court as required, the court may issue a bench warrant for your arrest. It is essential to take a summons seriously and address the underlying charges promptly to avoid further legal complications.

Can a Police Officer write a summons against me?

Yes, a police officer can issue a criminal citation, which is a type of summons, against you if they have probable cause to believe you committed a crime.

The citation will require you to appear in court to answer the charges against you. Some cases commonly involve the issuances of a summons at the time of charging, like shoplifting in Maryland.

Other cases, like assault charges can come by summons issued when a person isn't present at the scene of the crime.

How do I know if I have a summons?

If you have been served a summons, you should receive a copy of the document that includes the details of the charges against you, the date and time you are required to appear in court, and the location of the court.

The description of the charges is captioned "Charging Document" and has the words "STATEMENT OF CHARGES" printed at the top.

If you are unsure whether you have been served a summons or if you have misplaced the document, you can contact the appropriate court or consult with a Maryland criminal defense lawyer to determine your next steps.

If I miss a summons, can the Court re-issue it?

A summons can be re-issued by the Court if it goes un-served. This is discretionary to the Court, and will depend on the charge and the facts of the case.

What if I miss my Court date and get a FTA?

If you miss your scheduled court appearance due to a legitimate reason, the court may re-issue the summons and re-set your Court date, allowing you another opportunity to appear.

However, it is essential to promptly notify the court and provide a valid explanation for your absence. Failure to do so may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. This is something an attorney can help with.

If I have a warrant, can it be made into a summons?

In some cases, a warrant can be converted into a summons if you or your attorney can demonstrate to the court that you are not a flight risk and are willing to voluntarily appear in court to address the charges.

According to Maryland law "A judge of the District Court or a circuit court, upon a finding of good cause, may recall a warrant issued by a commissioner and issue a summons."

However, the decision to convert a warrant into a summons is at the discretion of the judge and depends on factors such as the nature of the charges, your criminal history, and your ties to the community.

It is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options and develop a strategy for addressing the warrant.

Speak with a Maryland Criminal Lawyer Today

If you are facing criminal charges and have been issued a summons or warrant, it is crucial to seek the advice of an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer.

A skilled attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process, build a strong defense, and negotiate with the prosecution to potentially secure a more favorable outcome, such as reduced charges, a dismissal, or a lighter sentence.

Protect Your Rights and Future

The consequences of a criminal conviction can be severe and long-lasting, including jail time, fines, probation, and a permanent criminal record. By enlisting the assistance of a reputable criminal defense lawyer, you can protect your rights and work towards the best possible outcome for your case.

Schedule a Consultation

Don't wait to get the legal representation you need. Contact a Maryland criminal defense lawyer today to schedule a consultation and discuss your case. Your future may depend on the quality of the legal defense you receive, so it is essential to choose the best lawyer to represent you in court.