|Location:||Montgomery County Circuit Court
North Tower 1st floor, Rm 1320
|Hours of Operation:||8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.|
The Criminal Department of Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk's Office handles a variety of criminal cases. In addition, the Criminal Department performs many duties which include filing and docketing case pleadings, issuing summonses, subpoenas, warrants, body attachments, and writs. Bonds are issued upon order of court to secure defendant's presence at court hearings.
All files and information pertaining to criminal cases are public record and can be accessed in person at the Criminal Office. Cases that have been sealed cannot be accessed by the public without an order from a judge.
Cases “originating” in the Circuit Court
Cases involving criminal and incarcerable traffic offenses begin by any of the following 4 ways:
- A warrantless arrest by a police officer pursuant to Sections 2-202 through 2-206 of the Maryland Criminal Procedure Article.
- An arrest pursuant to a warrant issued by a District Court Commissioner based on a sworn Statement of Charges (complaint) by a police officer or other individual alleging a criminal offense for which the Commissioner finds probable cause that the offense occurred. The Commissioner typically issues a summons ordering the defendant (accused) to appear in court in most minor cases.
- An Information filed either in the District Court or the Circuit Court by the Office of the State’s Attorney. The court determines whether to issue a summons or an arrest warrant based on the State's Attorney’s Office request.
- A citation written by a law enforcement or peace officer alleging an offense.
Click here for the on-line Maryland Laws available from the Maryland State Law Library.
The State’s Attorney’s Office reviews felony and serious misdemeanor cases to determine whether they should be handled in the Circuit Court or kept in the District Court. For the latter cases, the State’s Attorney’s Office presents them to the Grand Jury for Indictment or files an Information – the first paper filed in criminal prosecution stating the crime for which the defendant is accused – to initiate the criminal proceeding. These cases are generally called cases “originating” in the Circuit Court and are subject to the statutory 180-day speedy trial constraints. Typical Circuit Court criminal cases include all felony charges with the exception of some felony theft charges that may be heard in the District Court.
District Court Appeals and Instant Jury-Demands
The other types of criminal cases handled by the Circuit Court are those that are typically handled in the District Court but move to the Circuit Court. This occurs when a defendant demands a jury trial or when a defendant appeals a sentence received in a District Court proceeding, including sentences imposed for violation of probation.
The Clerk’s Office employees may not give legal advice nor tell you what to say in your pleadings.
All criminal cases are initiated by the State’s Attorney’s Office either through Grand Jury Indictment or filing of an Information. A summons is then issued with a scheduling order to the defendant to notify that he or she has been charged and to appear in court on a specified date. A warrant may also be issued to hold the defendant in custody. At the defendant’s first appearance in court for preliminary inquiry, he or she is informed of the right to have counsel and the importance of the assistance of counsel, as well as the nature of the charges against the defendant. While court proceedings are pre-scheduled according to the Court Criminal Differentiated Case Management Plan when the case is filed, the schedule can be modified at the status conference where the State’s Attorney’s Office and defense counsel negotiate the date for hearings and the trial. Prior to the status conference, discovery – disclosure of information to be submitted to the court at trial – and filing of pretrial motions – requests to the court to suppress the evidence and/or statements taken from the defendant at the time of the arrest, to postpone scheduled proceeding(s), to transfer the case to Juvenile Court, etc., – must be completed. Based on the information provided during discovery, the defendant may decide to plead guilty, and the parties may reach an agreement as to the number of charges to be brought against the defendant and/or the sentence(s) to be imposed on him or her. These matters are formalized or held at the disposition hearing where the presiding judge takes the plea and sentence(s) based on the agreement reached by the State’s Attorney and defense counsel. However, when the defendant does not plead guilty, the case goes to trial. Prior to the trial, the court holds a motions hearing to resolve any outstanding motions. At the trial, the presiding judge or a jury determines whether the defendant is guilty of the alleged crime beyond reasonable doubt based on the evidence presented before the court. If a defendant has been found guilty, he/she may file for an appeal to the Court of Special Appeals. If qualified, a defendant may also apply for an expungement of his/her record(s).
Expungement is the removal of records from public inspection. In Maryland, qualifying records may be expunged from court files, as well as from Motor Vehicle Administration files and police files. Please see Maryland Rules for what constitutes “qualifying” court records, motor vehicle files and police files.
Expungement filing fee: $30.00 for most dispositions
Additional information regarding expungement of records
Expungement Brochure (English, Spanish, Korean), Petition for Expungement Form (Maryland FORM 4-504.1), and General Waiver and Release Form are available from the Maryland Administrative Office of Courts Expungement site.
Click here to access Montgomery County Circuit Court Order for Expungement of Records (MSWord).
The Criminal Department does not offer fingerprinting services for background checks. For additional information and request for fingerprinting services, contact Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Fingerprinting Services/Fingerprinting Courses - Phone: 410-764-4501, 1-888-795-0011 (toll free).
You can view case records of Montgomery County Circuit Court and other jurisdictions in the State of Maryland on-line at Maryland Judiciary Case Search.
An appeal is a proceeding in which a party to the case disagrees with the Circuit Court judge’s ruling and wants the case to be heard in a higher court. The appeal has to be made within 30 days after the final judgment is entered. The appeal is noted in the Circuit Court to the Court of Special Appeals if a defendant in a criminal case or either party in a civil or family law case does not agree with the court decision.
Once an appeal is filed with the Appeals Clerk at the Circuit Court (located in the court’s Civil and Family Law window), all necessary original papers, including the original transcript (to be provided by the person filing the appeal) are sent to the Court of Special Appeals by the deadline provided in the order from the Court of Special Appeals.
Filing Fees: $110.00 (cash, money order, or check payable to the "Clerk of Court"). No credit cards accepted.
Appeals filed from the District Court to the Circuit Court
After the Circuit Court decision, if a party wishes to appeal the second time, a petition for a writ of certiorari must be filed with the Court of Appeals in Annapolis in a timely manner.
50 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM