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State's Attorney's Office
50 Maryland Avenue, 5th Floor
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: 240.777.7300
Fax: 240.777.7413
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State's Attorney's Office

 

  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):


INFORMATION ABOUT THE POLICE:  

 

INFORMATION ABOUT BEING A VICTIM OR WITNESS OF A CRIME:

 

 WHEN YOU ARE REQUIRED TO COME TO COURT:

 

 SENTENCING AND PLEA BARGAINS:

 

 APPEALING CONVICTIONS:

 

What police district am I in?

Click on the following link to find an interactive map of Montgomery County to determine what police district you are in: 

http://gis2.montgomerycountymd.gov/ims/publicsafety/viewer.htm

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Answer: How do I get a copy of a police report?

Incident Reports:

Your local Montgomery County Police district station provides accident reports 24-hours daily. However, it takes 3-5 days after the accident to process the report.

Each report is $10.00. We accept cash only.

Please call ahead to make sure that the report is ready for pick up.

Effective October 1, 2007 the Maryland Transportation Article (20-110) restricts access to collision reports for the first 60 days after the report is filed to specific individuals. Identification will be verified to determine authorization.

Individuals who are authorized to receive copies of collision reports within the first 60 days are:

  1. The individuals involved in the motor vehicle accident;
  2. The legal representative of an individual involved in the motor vehicle accident;
  3. The insurance producer, insurer, or employee or agent of the insurer of an individual involved in the motor vehicle accident;
  4. A State's Attorney or other prosecutor;
  5. A representative of a victim services program;
  6. An employee of a radio or television station licensed by the Federal Communications Commission;
  7. An employee of a newspaper;
  8. A unit of local, state, or federal government that is otherwise authorized to have access to a report in furtherance of the unit's duties.

PENALTY: A person who obtains a report in violation of this law or an officer who knowingly discloses a report to a person not entitled to access the report under this law is guilty of a felony and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 15 years or both.

All Other Police Reports (e.g.: burglaries, thefts, assaults, etc.)

Must be obtained through the Records Division located at Police Headquarters -

100 Edison Park Drive, Gaithersburg MD 20878

Monday - Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 p.m.

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Answer: How do I access the Montgomery County Police Department website?

Follow this link: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/POL/index.asp

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Answer: How do the police and prosecutors work together?

Police officers and prosecutors work closely in order to put together a well-prepared case for court. The police officers handle the cases originally and charge the defendant. Felony cases are brought to the State's Attorney's Office where the cases are prepared for court. Misdemeanor cases begin at the District Court level where the officer assigned to the case and the prosecutor work closely to make sure all of the evidence is in the State's possession, that all witnesses have been interviewed and that the case is prepared for trial.  Additionally, police officers will request advice and counsel of prosecutors during investigations.  In Montgomery County police officers have the contact information of the prosecutors that are assigned to their district. 

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Answer: How do I initiate a complaint against someone?

If a crime is committed in the presence of a police officer normally that police officer would have the ability to arrest an individual or obtain a summons or warrant for that person. However, if a crime is committed and no police officer observes it then a citizen may pursue criminal charges on their own. The citizen would appear before a commissioner and obtain and fill out an application for a statement of charges. If the commissioner believes that probable cause is present, the commissioner would issue a summons for a person to appear in court or a warrant for their arrest in some circumstances. (see police website and CCB page)

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Answer: Do I, as a witness or a victim need to have my own private attorney for a criminal case?

No. For the purposes of the criminal case the State's Attorney's Office represents the interests of victims and presents the testimony of witnesses.  However, in some circumstances a victim may obtain a civil attorney to address issues beyond the scope of criminal prosecution. 

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Answer: How do I protect myself against the defendant?

If you have been threatened or assaulted by the defendant or others and there is a continuing threat, you should contact the State's Attorney's Office to alert us.  For an immediate threat you should contact your local police department. There are several options including, for victims of domestic violence, the loan of a cell phone or obtaining a protective or peace order.  In addition, in extreme situations there is the possibility of moving you and your family from the area or into a secure location.

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Answer: What is a protective order and how do I get one?

Please see our website page on protective orders here.

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Answer:  What information do I need when calling or visiting the State's Attorney's Office?

If you are calling about a specific case, it helps us to locate the case in the computer system if you have the defendant's name, case number and trial date. This information would be on your courts summons or other letters from the State's Attorney. It is also helpful if you have been dealing with a police officer to have the officer's name and department.

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Answer: When and how do I get my restitution?

Restitution can be ordered for loss or damage to property or for medical or funeral expenses. In a criminal case, restitution cannot be ordered for lost wages, although wages may be recovered from a civil suit.  Restitution can be ordered by the judge upon the conviction of the defendant.  Depending on the amount of restitution and the ability of the defendant to make payments, restitution might be made in one payment at sentencing or be made payable through the Department of Parole and Probation and collected a little at a time for over many years.  An order of restitution is filed as a civil judgment and can be executed by the victim as any other civil judgment.

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Answer: Where are the Commissioners located?

Commisioners will be at two locations in the County. There will always a be a Commissioner at Rockville. Commissioners are scheduled at Silver Spring but may not always be available as scheduled.Rockville: Central Processing Unit

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Answer: Can I drop charges after I have signed a complaint?

While your concerns are important, only an assistant state's attorney - can dismiss the charges once they are filed. 

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Answer: Why is the State of Maryland involved?

Most likely the police were called, completed a police report of the offense, and then filed police reports and an affidavit charging the defendant(s) with a criminal offense. The State's Attorney's Office represents the people of the State of Maryland and prosecutes the case on behalf of the State of Maryland.

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Answer: I am a victim, what can I do if a defendant continues to contact me?

The court can issue an order that the defendant stay away from you and/or members of your family. If the defendant continues this behavior, call your local police department and advise them of the situation. Additional criminal charges may be appropriate if the behavior persists.  Additionally, if a defendant continues to contact a victim or a witness the police should be called immediately.  The police may obtain a warrant with additional charges or the State's Attorney's Office may file an emergency bond revocation, if appropriate. 

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Answer: How can I find out my court date?

It is helpful if you have the defendant's name, case number and what court the case is in when you call the office. If you do not have this information, we can still find the trial date, but you may have to be transferred to the various divisions within the office because they are each on a separate computer system.

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Answer:  I received a subpoena to appear in court. Must I appear as directed by the subpoena?

Yes for a variety of reasons. You should appear ON or BEFORE the scheduled time you are to appear, dressed appropriately for court. An early arrival is generally a good idea - in addition to traffic and parking delays, everyone must pass through the main security checkpoint. Plan to arrive at the courthouse at least 15-20 minutes ahead of your appointed time to allow for parking, walking to the courthouse, passing through security, and finding the appropriate court room.

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Answer: How long will my court appearance take?

There is no way to make this determination in advance. You should be prepared to wait.

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Answer: I am a defendant, what happens if I fail to appear in court?

A warrant may be issued for your arrest.

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Answer: I am a witness or victim, what can happen to me if I don't show up for court because I do not want to get involved or testify?

A subpoena is an order from the Court ordering you to appear for the scheduled court date. If you refuse to appear, the court does have the power to issue an order for your arrest, and have you held in jail until the time of the trial or hearing.

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Answer: Will the case be continued if I am not there?

It is up to the judge assigned to the case. If you fail to appear, and the judge does not permit a continuance, then the case might be dismissed. In addition, the judge has the right to hold you in contempt of court.

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Answer: What is a plea bargain?

A plea bargain or plea agreement allows the criminal justice system to function effectively. Many people feel that plea agreements are bad and that defendants are "getting off easy." The reality is that without plea agreements, the criminal justice system would be unable to process the large number of cases that are handled every year. Most pleas are designed to have the defendant plead to a serious charge. Many times the plea agreement consists of a plea to the more serious charge with incarceration recommendation by the State.

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Answer: Why do DUI offenders get five or six chances before they serve jail time?

Certain DUI offenders will be sentenced to jail on the first offense. The likelihood of incarceration increases substantially on any subsequent offense. It is ultimately the Judge's responsibility to sentence the defendant. The State will evaluate the case and make a recommendation to the Court for what the State feels is an appropriate sentence. The defense attorney is also given the opportunity to convince the Judge not to send the defendant to jail. The final decision lies with the Judge.

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Answer: Why isn't a "life sentence" actually a life sentence?

Many State's and Federal Governments have what is called, "truth in sentencing." This means that the sentence the Judge gives a defendant is the full sentence he/she serves. Maryland does NOT have "truth in sentencing." The amount of time a defendant serves in jail is set by the Maryland Division of Corrections. It has established a general guideline that outlines the length of a sentence and how "good time" credits will effect the sentence served.

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Answer: If I do not agree with the outcome of a case, in which I was the victim, what can I do about it?

Generally, once the judge's decision has been handed down in a criminal case, it cannot be changed.  Therefore, it is very important to contact the prosecutor assigned to the case and discuss your thoughts about the outcome prior to any hearings or trials.  If you have a problem with the way the prosecutor handled a case, you may contact the State's Attorney's Office and ask to speak with the supervisor of that particular assistant state's attorney. 

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Answer: What are the chances that the defendant's conviction will be reversed on appeal? If the conviction is reversed, does that mean a new trial?

In the vast majority of cases, the defendant is not successful on appeal. In those few instances in which the appellate court reverses the conviction, it could mean that the case has to go to trial again. In rare cases, the appellate court reverses the conviction and orders the defendant to be discharged from further prosecution.  Additionally, if you sign up with the VINE (Victim Information Notification Everyday) network system you will be informed of the defendant's incarceration status and pending hearings.  

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Answer:  How long does the appeal take?

It depends on the complexity of the case. Most cases are decided by the court of appeals within two years following the conviction.

 

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