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Criminal Department

LOCATION:  North Tower 1st Floor, Rm 1260

HOURS:  Monday-Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm

PHONE: 240-777-9440

Roles & Responsibilities

The Criminal Department of the Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk's Office handles a variety of criminal cases. The Criminal Department files and dockets case pleadings and issues summonses, subpoenas, warrants, body attachments, and writs. Bonds are issued upon order of court to secure a defendant's presence at court hearings.

All files and information about criminal cases, except those that have been sealed and pertain to juvenile defendants, 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.

What is a Criminal Case?

Cases 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 Code, Criminal Proceedings, Title 2. Law Enforcement Procedures: Arrest Process.
  • 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 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 State’s Attorney Office. 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.

Online 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 start 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 except for 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 handled in the District Court but transferred 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.

Clerk’s Office employees may not give legal advice nor tell you what to say in your pleadings.

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